Most people know that there is a limit on the length of a tweet (although not everybody knows that Twitter doubled that length a while back to 280 characters). Although other social media character limits may not be so explicit, they too generally limit the length of your social media posts. In this post, we look at each of the leading social media networks, establish any set limits, and discuss the best length for a social media post.
What is the Best Length for Social Media Posts?
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Facebook is the busiest social network, and it is also one of the hardest for businesses to gain organic traction with their posts. The Facebook algorithm has a strong bias towards posts made by your real friends and family. In turn, it has a strong bias against posts made by businesses – unless they have paid for the right to do so.
Neil Patel looked at this in detail in, Is Facebook Organic Reach Really Dead? He notes that Facebook has changed the way that it measures organic reach. “Previously, Facebook counted Organic Reach as any time an unpaid post appeared in someone’s News Feed. Now, Organic Reach will only give you a hit if your unpaid post actually enters a person’s screen.” Between February 2012 and June 2016 organic reach fell from about 16% to a mere 2%, i.e., if you have 100 followers to your Facebook page, Facebook will only serve your new posts to two followers on average.
But Neil Patel doesn’t believe that horrifying fact is any reason to give up on Facebook. You just need to ensure that your content is amongst the 2% that gets shared. Facebook is waging war against low-quality content and only wants high-quality content visible. You need to stand out and ensure that your posts remain visible.
Best Length for a Facebook Update
So, what is “quality Facebook content” in terms of length? Several studies have found that Facebook statuses of around 40-80 characters perform best. An Express Writers infographic suggests that your posts work best at 40 characters or fewer, earning 86% more engagement than longer posts. Jeff Bullas found similar results, although you could be a little more generous with your writing – posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% higher engagement.
So, if you were thinking about uploading an entire blog post to Facebook, it is probably best that you rethink your strategy.
Best Length for a Facebook Ad Headline
Some people spend a considerable amount of time analyzing the effectiveness of copywriting and headlines. A single changed word can bring you an entirely new audience or lose you followers, instead.
Remember that a Facebook ad has a somewhat unusual structure. It begins with its ad text. It usually follows this with an image. The Headline is placed directly below the image, and this is followed by the link description.
Adespresso has worked extensively with Facebook advertising over recent years. In 2018, they analyzed a tremendous 752,626 Facebook ads and discovered that the most popular headline length was five words (as it had been three years previously in their 2015 survey).
Best Length for Facebook Ad Body Text
Adespresso noticed, however, that although the headline has remained the same length since 2015, the length for Facebook ad body text has increased. Indeed, it rose every year from 14 words in 2015 to 15 in 2016, 18 in 2017 and 19 in 2018. Clearly, readers are prepared to read a small amount more at the top of sponsored posts now before they take a closer look at the ad itself.
Best Length for Facebook Ads Link Descriptions
The final part of a Facebook ad (apart from the Call to Action at the bottom) is the link description. The trend here is the opposite to that of the body text – Link descriptions have shrunk over the last few years. Adespresso has discovered that these have shrunk from an average of 18 words in 2015 to 17 in 2016 to 14 in 1015 and 13 in 2018.
This is because Facebook suggests it should be 30 characters. Otherwise, there is a danger that it may appear truncated. It is difficult to fit even 13 words into the space and not lose some of them.
Your description simply needs to be long enough to make it clear where you are sending people who click on your Call to Action.
Facebook Character Limits
Regardless of best practice, there are some character limits imposed by Facebook. You can’t exceed these, no matter how important you consider your message. If you feel you need more, you need to create an additional post (or ad).
- Facebook Posts: 63,206 characters (no penalty for using images or videos)
- Facebook Username: 50 characters
- Facebook Page Description: 155 characters
- Facebook Ads image/ video: body text – 125 characters
- Facebook Ads (link) image/ video: headline – 25 characters
- Facebook Ads (link) image/ video: link description – 30 characters
- Facebook Ads Carousel image/ video: body text – 125 characters
- Facebook Ads Carousel (link) image/ video: headline – 40 characters
- Facebook Ads Carousel (link) image/ video: link description – 20 characters
- Facebook Ads Collection image/ video: body text – 90 characters
- Facebook Ads Collection image/ video: headline – 25 characters
- Facebook Ads (all types) – no image can be more than 20% text
For years, 140 characters were the magic maximum length for a Tweet, but nowadays, Twitter gives you up to 280 characters you can use in 1 tweet.
Best Length for a Tweet
However, just because you can use all those characters doesn’t mean that you should. Some people make their tweets almost indecipherable because they include @entries from everybody, they consider important, along with #entries for topics that are remotely similar. You are far more likely to grab someone’s attention, and encourage them to engage, if you limit your tweets to somewhere between 71 and 100 characters.
Best Length for a Twitter Hashtag
According to Vanessa Doctor from Hashtags.org, the best hashtags are a single word with only a few letters. She recommends that you restrict your hashtags to being under 6 characters.
Twitter Character Limits
- Tweet: 280 characters
- Twitter Direct Message: 10,000 characters
- Twitter Handle: 15 characters
- Twitter Profile Name: 20 characters
- Items excluded from the above counts: Twitter handles at the beginning of a reply, direct message deep links, and images.
Because Instagram is inherently visual, you might not have noticed character limitations on Instagram. But they’re there, however.
Best Length for Instagram Captions
Although Instagram captions can be surprisingly long, you won’t want to do this. People come to Instagram to look at the images/videos – not to read exceedingly long captions. You will perform best if you limit yourself to 138 to 150 characters. Social Report suggests that your Instagram captions should be even shorter – less than 125 characters.
Most people quickly scroll through their Instagram feed and only read the captions for posts that particularly interest them.
Best Length for Instagram Ads Captions
The same philosophy applies to Instagram ads as to Instagram posts. It’s better to use short, concise copy than long rambling text. Your image or video should sell itself, with only a small amount of additional help from the text. Ideally, you should restrict yourself to fewer than 125 characters for your Instream ads captions.
Best Number of Hashtags for Instagram Captions
One area that differs between Twitter and Instagram is hashtag usage. Instagrammers love their hashtags – indeed you can use up to 30 in a post.
But in most cases, you shouldn’t use the full 30. For a start, you need to ensure the hashtags you use are relevant to the post. You also want to ensure you don’t use the same hashtags all the time (otherwise you may come under danger of earning a shadow ban).
The general view is that 4-9 hashtags are a good quantity on Instagram. TrackMaven has found the ideal number of hashtags in an Instagram post is 9.
Best Number of Characters in an Instagram Hashtag
TrackMaven also analyzed the effects of using hashtags of various lengths. Surprisingly their data showed that hashtags with 21 characters gave the most engagement, followed by hashtags with 24 characters. Hashtags with 22 and 23 characters were also successful. This is considerably longer than the recommended hashtag lengths on Twitter.
Instagram Character Limits
- Instagram Caption Character Limit: 2,200 characters
- Instagram Hashtag Limit: 30 hashtags
- Instagram Bio Character Limit: 150 characters
- Instagram Username Character Limit: 30 characters
- Instagram Ads image/ video: text – 2 rows of text
- Instagram Ads Carousel image/ video: text – 90 characters
- Instagram Ads (all types) – no image can be more than 20% text
Best Number of Characters in a LinkedIn Status Update
LinkedIn is more text-based than most of the other social networks. This is partly because of its role as a centralized resume. However, you still make status updates on LinkedIn, just like any other social network. And just like the others, short performs best on LinkedIn.
The ideal length for a LinkedIn status is around 100 characters. The “See More” button cuts off messages at about 140 characters.
Best Number of Characters in a LinkedIn Publishing Post
Recent changes to the LinkedIn algorithm have discriminated against status updates that share links. This has encouraged more people to use LinkedIn Publishing to create entire blog posts on the platform.
Paul Shapiro, of Search Wilderness, analyzed more than 3,000 posts and found that long-form content performed best here. Posts of 1900-2000 words performed best according to his research.
LinkedIn Character Limits
- First name: 20 characters
- Last name: 40 characters
- Page name: 50 characters
- Company name: 100 characters
- About us/Summary: 2,000 characters
- Company update: 700 characters
- Company leaders’ headline: 150 characters
- Company leader’s description: 150 characters
- Employee testimonials: 400 characters
- Custom module title: 150 characters
- Custom module body: 500 characters
- Custom module URL label: 70 characters
- Recommendation: 3,000 characters
- LinkedIn Publishing post headline: 150 characters
- LinkedIn Publishing content length: ~120,000 characters
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should your update on Facebook be?
Many studies have found that a Facebook status that has about 40-80 characters perform best. As a matter of fact, an Express Writers Infographic found that posts that are only about 40 characters (or even fewer) generate 86% more engagement than longer posts.
May your tweets be longer than 140 characters?
Tweets no longer have to be just 140 characters. Twitter now allows users to use up to 280 characters in one tweet. Though, just because you may use 280 characters does not mean that you should. Your chances of grabbing users’ attention and encouraging them to engage are much better if you restrict your tweets to only 71-100 characters. With regards to hashtags, the best hashtags are only one short word (ideally it should be fewer than 6 characters long).
Does Instagram have character and hashtag limitations?
Instagram actually has a caption character limit of 2,200 characters for posts and a hashtag limit of 30 hashtags. Though, that does not mean that you should use all the characters or hashtags. People use Instagram to look at videos and images and, therefore, your posts will perform better if you restrict yourself to about 138-150 characters. With regards to hashtags, the general opinion is that 4-9 hashtags are best.
What are some tips for using hashtags?
Firstly, you need to ensure that the hashtags that you use are relevant to your posts. Secondly, you want to avoid using the same hashtags all of the time (on Instagram using the same hashtags repeatedly can cause a shadow ban). With regards to Twitter, the best hashtag is a single word no longer than 6 characters. While Instagram allows you to use as many as 30 hashtags, it is best to restrict it to 9 per post max.
Can I create long-form content on LinkedIn?
Long-form content performs quite well on LinkedIn. Paul Shapiro of Search Wilderness has analyzed over 3,000 posts and found that long-form content actually performed best on LinkedIn. Posts of 1,900-2,000 words got the best results according to his research. Just bear in mind that the headlines of posts on LinkedIn publishing are limited to 15 characters, while the length of the content may not be more than about 120,000 characters.