Hello, I’m Will Holden. Like Troy McClure, you might remember me from such blog posts as Research: The Ideal Length of a Facebook Post is 40 Characters and the client call, “Shorter Now and Always”.
Well, to make another cheesy pop culture reference: The times are a-changin’.
Yes, at one point in time I relied on great research from Buffer that 40 characters — not 40 words, but 40 characters — was indeed the ideal length of post copy for Facebook. And just to be clear, I’m not making an effort to abandon or challenge those findings. As a content creator and former journalist, I still believe conciseness is next to godliness.
But that doesn’t mean I’m great at consistently achieving it.
That’s one of many reasons why I was somewhat relieved when my own experience threw some dirt on the totality of implications that can be made from Buffer’s research into the succinctness of social copy.
That fact is that Facebook’s own algorithm for measuring and rewarding engaging content is constantly changing. And in their efforts to solicit more original content, it seems verbosity is no longer the enemy on this social platform.
We’ve seen a couple cases in point over the past year that have driven this home for us. But one in particular stands out.
Working for our clients at SCL Health Medical Group, we came across a great story of a woman named Patti Martin, who while visiting her daughter in Denver, fell terribly ill to what was ultimately deemed a heart condition. Feeling uneasy after being admitted to a hospital in an unfamiliar city, Patti and her husband called their physician back home and asked who in Denver he would recommend seeing for severe cardiology issues.
It just so happened the very doctor their physician recommended walked into their hospital room just minutes later, unsolicited.
Long story short (pun intended), the serendipity extrapolated from there, and we found ourselves with a tale that we felt needed a little girth in the telling. Without a great blog or third-party content platform to utilize, we decided to go straight to Facebook with a 500-word story.
The result? Our most engaging Facebook post of the year — outperforming our next best piece of Facebook content by over 300 percent.
The results were so encouraging that we developed what we dubbed a “mini-story series” for the SCL Health Medical Group Facebook page. And yes, each one of the ensuing posts was a top performer from an engagement standpoint, as well.
What was the common thread that tied them all together? Humanity and character development.
In each case, we had great people at the heart of great stories. And from a tactical standpoint, we were able to tag each person in our posts. That ensured our content showed up on their personal Facebook feeds, and their friends engaging in our content is what sent our metrics through the roof.
So what’s the takeaway here? Don’t throw brevity out with the bathwater. But if you’ve got a great, personal story to tell, don’t be afraid to lean into it a little heavier than you might have previously thought you could.