Sure, Twitter has a new 280-character limit. But that doesn't mean you should use it.
So, what's the ideal length of a tweet? A hashtag? How else can you make tweets more readable and engaging? Let's look at the research:
1. Tweet length?
So, you've written a blog post and want to get out the word on Twitter. How long should the tweet be?
Turns out medium length performs best.
- Retweets increase with length. You'll get more retweets if your tweets are 71-100 words, according to a Track Social study of 100 well-known brands popular on Twitter.
- Engagement falls with word count. Tweets shorter than 100 words get 17 percent higher engagement, according to Buddy Media.
The solution? Aim for about 100 characters.
100 characters on Twitter is the new black. Here's what 100 characters looks like, including spaces.
2. Twitter hashtag length?
What about hashtags? We've all seen social media writers use 140-280 characters. So, how long is too long?
Let's look at the research:
- Use hashtags, according to Buffer Media. Tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement of tweets without them.
- But don't overuse them. Tweets with one or two hashtags get 21% more engagement than those without, Buffer found. But engagement drops when you add more.
- Make them short. Keep them to 6 characters or fewer, recommends Vanessa Doctor from Hashtags.org.
3. What's the best reading grade level?
Retweets averaged 6.47 on the Flesh-Kincaid Index, says Dan Zarrella, HubSpot's viral marketing scientist. Random tweets scored even lower: 6.04 years on Flesch-Kincaid.
Zarrella should know. He spent nine months analyzing 5 million tweets and 40 million retweets to find what makes some messages travel the world while others stay on the couch.
To make sure your tweets get retweeted, aim for 6th- to 7th-grade level on the Flesch test. Don't like your score? Shorten sentence and word length and your score will improve.
4. Any secrets for sentences?
Zarrella found retweets are heavier on nouns, proper nouns and third-person verbs than tweets. That suggests newsy, headline-style tweets—subject, verb, object—are more likely to go viral.
Want to improve engagement? Write simple sentences.
And don't forget punctuation. 98 percent of retweets contain some form of punctuation, compared with 86 percent of normal tweets, Zarrella found.
So include colons, periods, commas and hyphens. Forget semicolons. They're "the only un-re-tweetable punctuation mark," Zarrella says.
5. How long should words be?
Retweets actually have more syllables than ordinary tweets—1.62 syllables/word vs. 1.58, Zarrella found. Outside the Twitter-verse, experts suggest aiming for two-syllable words, so both measures are still, understandably, simple.
Want spreadable tweets? Write mostly in one- and two-syllable words.
And skip slang. Lazy language like lol, gonna and hey are among the 20 least re-tweetable words, Zarrella found.
Ann Wylie is president of Wylie Communications