Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

For many of us, a hamburger is a delicious sandwich, no matter where you get it. No one can mess them up.

But there are things you can do to make your hamburger exceptional. For me, that means the addition of bacon, cheese, and avocado. I’ll still eat and thoroughly enjoy the hamburger if those ingredients aren’t available. But they make the hamburger go from good, to memorable.

Hamburgers are like marketing. Much of the work you do to promote your library is already good (because I know you’re doing good work!) Now, you’re on the path to maximizing the effectiveness of your marketing.

One of the ways you can ensure success is to make certain your marketing content is the perfect length. It may seem insignificant. But the right number of characters or words for a piece of content can make all the difference.

How do you know how long your tactics should be? I did the research, so you don’t have to.

Ideal length of a Facebook post: 100-259 characters

Research from experts on this one is mixed. Some studies suggest you keep captions at 50 characters or less.

But in my work with libraries, I try to pay attention to engagement rates and post length. And I personally think 50 characters is too short. So, I would suggest you try to write between 100 and 259 characters.

Ideal length of a Tweet: 240-259 characters

Most experts agree that using slightly less than 280 character limit on Twitter is ideal. That gives people the room to quote Tweet your library.

But you can do two other things to improve your library’s Twitter engagement.

  • Include rich media in your post, like photos, graphics, and video. In fact, multiple photos or a mix of photos and a video will help your Tweet get more engagement.
  • Use emojis at the beginning of your Tweet to capture attention and stop people from scrolling past your messages.

Ideal length of an Instagram post: 138-150 characters

Fun posts should have shorter captions. Information or educational posts should have longer captions.

There are other caption tricks that help with Instagram post engagement.

  • Add spaces between your sentences, so they look like paragraphs. Here’s an example from Amherst Town Library.
  • Weave in plenty of emojis. You can even substitute emojis for words to add character to your post.
  • Include multiple kinds of rich media, like photos and videos all in the same post, to increase the value.   

Ideal length of a TikTok video or Instagram Reel:  between 7 and 34 seconds

There is not a lot of data or research surrounding TikTok videos or Instagram Reels. It does appear that, even though the platforms allow you to create videos that are several minutes long, shorter videos lead to maximum engagement.

Ideal length of a LinkedIn post: Less than 210 characters

There is lots of dispute around this recommendation. I’ve picked the median number. And to help with engagement, I have a formula that’s worked well for me.

Construct a good, first teaser sentence, and then put a space between it and the rest of your post caption. This will cause your reader to have to click on “see more.” It works!

Good content on LinkedIn is also important. Videos natively uploaded to the platform get lots of engagement. Also, try polls to increase engagement.

Ideal length of an email: 100 words

Different types of emails should have different lengths. If you’re sending someone an onboarding email, you’re going to need to write more than if you’re sending an email promoting an upcoming event.

There are some scenarios where a couple of sentences is plenty to capture your cardholder’s attention and others where you’ll need several paragraphs to get your full point across.

In general, keep your email text as simple as possible. Be straightforward about the benefit of your library service or collection item or event. And drive recipients to your website for more information.

Ideal length of an email newsletter: 3-4 pieces of information

In my experience advising libraries, email newsletter recipients never click anything past the first 3-4 pieces of content in an email. I always recommend sending shorter, more frequent email newsletters rather than one long monthly version.

If you don’t have control over how long your email newsletter is, you can help engagement by placing the 3-4 most important things at the beginning of the email. If your email provider has a table of contents feature, use that to drive interest to content further down in the email.  

Ideal length of an email subject line: either very short (30 characters) or very long (90 characters or more)

It appears that the extreme ends of length catch the attention of the inbox scroller.

Longer subject lines boost response rates, according to Adestra, a U.K.-based email service provider. Its analysis of more than one billion emails showed that subject lines of 90 characters and more produced the highest response rates. They theorize the added characters increase engagement because they can communicate more value to the recipient.

But their research also found that subject lines at 30 characters or less performed well. That’s because the full subject line can usually be seen by the recipient, both in desktop and mobile versions of mail provider apps.

Experiment with both ends of the length spectrum to see which your audience responds to. And keep in mind the other factors that can impact subject line effectiveness.

Ideal length of a YouTube video: Between 7 and 15 minutes

This stat comes from several sources, including Social Media Examiner.

It’s important to let your content dictate video length. A how-to video may need five minutes or more to show the process. An unboxing video can be shorter. If your video is interesting to watch, the length won’t really matter. 

Ideal length of a podcast: 22 minutes

Your target audience will really dictate the perfect length for your library. Most research I found recommended 20 minutes for podcasts aimed at listeners who are doing chores or taking short walks, 40 minutes for people commuting or doing longer chores, or 60 minutes for those who want an extended listen.

Ideal blog post length:  2,000 words

That’s a lot of words! For context, the Monday articles here on Super Library Marketing run between 1,000 and 1,500 words each.

So, before you get anxious about word length, remember that quality blog posts will always do well, no matter how long.  If your post contains valuable or interesting information that your reader wants and needs, it will do well.

If your blog is less than 2,000 words, there are some things you can do to make it feel meaty to the reader. You may have noticed these tricks in my blog posts.

  • Present information using bullet points or lists.
  • Write longer paragraphs at beginning of the article.
  • Insert scannable headlines.
  • Include images, especially those that explain concepts or demonstrate your point.

Finally, it’s important to include keywords in your title and frequently within your post. You may notice I use the terms library marketing and library promotion in almost every title and throughout my articles. That’s because I know those are used by library staff searching for help with their marketing.

The most important thing to remember

Pay attention to your metrics. Your audience will tell you about the perfect length for any one of your tactics.

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The Top Four Reasons To Use Content Marketing To Promote Your Library on Every Platform

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