A proven tenet of online publishing, it’s been shown time and time again that long-form content drives more value than short-form content. Search-engine-optimization results are better. Conversion rates can be better, as can social engagement rates.
Interestingly, one channel where the length of content hasn’t seemed to matter is Facebook–specifically, the effect that the amount of text in any given Facebook post has on how Facebook prioritizes that post in News Feed. In fact, on Facebook’s website, there is no mention of content length being a factor in how News Feed prioritizes posts:
The three main types of signals used to estimate post relevance to each person are:
- Who posted it: The friends, family, news sources, businesses and public figures a person interacts with most are prioritized in their News Feed.
- Post type: Whether it’s photos, videos or links, News Feed prioritizes the types of posts that a person interacts with most frequently.
- Post activity: Posts that have a lot of likes, comments and shares (especially from the people a person interacts with most) could appear higher in a person’s feed.
Keywee recently analyzed more than 230,000 organic posts from over 300 publishers and found evidence indicating that the amount of text in a Facebook post is in fact impacting how it is prioritized in News Feed, as well as its organic reach.
This came on the heels of changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm announced in June, which did not mention anything about the length of a post having any influence. Prior to that, we found very little correlation between the amount of text in a Facebook post and its organic reach.
Below is an example Facebook post showing what constitutes post text:
And below is a chart detailing the results of the above mentioned study. The y axis represents “percentage of highest reach,” and the x axis shows the number of text words in a Facebook post.
Percentage of highest reach is basically a measure for how popular a post is, compared with a publisher’s other posts, and it is calculated by taking the reach for a particular post and dividing it by the highest reach achieved by a post from a particular publisher. As you can see, percentage of highest reach increases steadily as the number of words in a post increases from a small number of words to about 20 words. After 20 words, the ratio flattens out, no matter how many more words are used.
We don’t know why this is happening (only Facebook can answer that question), but no matter the reason, it’s clear that publishers looking to increase the organic reach of their Facebook posts should experiment with increasing the number of words in a post.
Size matters image courtesy of Shutterstock.