How Long Should a Blog Post be?

In catching up on my reading this morning, I followed a link to a guest post on OkDork.com written by Henry Wing (@HenryWing) one of the co-founders of BuzzSumo, a company that

“… provides insights into the most popular content online and the influencers sharing it.”

The post is about Why Content Goes Viral. Mr. Wing shares the top 10 reasons that content goes viral. In summary,

  • Lists are good, and “10” as in “Top 10” (reasons why, things to do, questions to ask) is the magic number
  • A post can go viral even when there is a lull in sharing for a week or more.
  • Images help a post get shared
  • Posts that evoke positive emotion are more likely to be shared. (Awe, laughter, amusement, joy were most popular)
  • Longer blog posts get shared many more times than shorter blog posts.

Average Shares by Content Length

 

This makes sense to me. With all the information that blips in front of our eyes each day via social media, email, surfing the web, the pop ups pushing requests at us when we click through to websites, etc, it feels like a novelty to discover longer pieces, and I suspect that readers have a greater appreciation for the author who took the time to write something more involved than a 140-character announcement about his/her status. Perhaps, they might even have a heightened interest in finding out what is so important that the author was compelled to write so much.

In my experience, well-thought out pieces tend to consist of more words because the author lays the ground work, introduces the topic, tells how he/she feels about the topic, explains how he/she came to the understanding that he/she did, presents other points of view about the topic, cites empirical data, and so on. That takes a lot more words.

For a lengthy post to be worthy of reading for me, it is not important whether I agree with the author or not. It is important that the author did the research, states his/her position and discusses how he/she came to feel the way they do in a thoughtful, respectful manner. I have always had greater appreciation for teachers, presenters, speakers, authors who know their material, have planned what they want to share, have a roadmap to getting there, and are practiced and confident in their delivery.

So how many words should your blog post be?

According to BuzzSumo, somewhere between 2000 – 10,000 words will get you increased sharing. Check the graphic above for numbers related to the social media platforms in which you participate.

With less than 500 words in this post, guess I won’t be going viral real soon :-).

Learn more about why content goes viral by visiting the websites in the credits below.

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