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March 21, 2019
What are you trying to do with this post?
One of the first filters you should use to decide how much you’re going to write is your goal. What’s the purpose of this post? What does success look like? Specifically. And we’re not just talking about your call-to-action here.
Your CTA doesn’t determine how long your post will be.
For each blog post, “what are you trying to do?” goes beyond “sell this product” or “promote this resource.” We’re looking at the second part of your goal: how this post will help you achieve your objective.
Here’s what that means.
I want my post to be popular on social media
Suggested length: 500–1,000 words
Everybody wants to go viral. And while people who have gone viral act like there’s a magic formula, the reality is a lot of it is out of your hands. There are things you can do to increase the likelihood that your content catches on, but what “going viral” means and how it happens largely depends on your audience. (And that’s a post for another day.)
If being popular on social media is your goal, I have good news: your posts don’t need to be that long.
In fact, 59 percent of people who share blog posts on social media don’t even read them. So in theory, you could just write a bunch of catchy headlines and call it good, right?
Maybe. But that’s not the right approach. Because then anyone who actually reads your post will think you’re just an attention-grabbing schmuck. And they’ll be right. And they won’t come back. And they’ll become anti-fans and bash your posts when they see other people share them.
There’s a happy medium, and it’s about 500 words.
Even if your blog post is image-heavy, it should be long enough to satisfy the intrigue or emotional response created by your eye-catching headline.
You can certainly get away with fewer than 500 words–just keep in mind that the shorter your post is, the harder it is to satisfy that itch that got someone to your blog. Your title convinced them your post was worth checking out, but your content has to meet that expectation.
Technically, there’s no upper limit to a blog post you want to do well on social. Plenty of long posts still get shared. (Ever heard of the New York Times?) But once you get beyond 1,500 words, you’re getting into a range where you’re already doing so much work, you may want to focus on writing a post that’ll rank in Google.
Even if you’re just writing from personal experience and it’s easy for you to crank out 2,000 words, you’re going so in-depth that with a little research and clear organization, you can probably write an evergreen post that provides long-term traffic.