One of the most commonly-propagated pieces of advice in the social media world is that blog posts should be short. “Limit yourself to 200 words,” you’ll hear. “Three to five paragraphs at most” others will say.
The reason for all that helpful advice, of course, is that “people don’t have the time or patience to read long blog posts.” It’s as though these “experts” think we’re all a bunch of ADHD children stuck inside a math class on a beautiful spring day.
Perhaps they’re just describing themselves. In my nearly 13 years in technology public relations, one of the things I have found is that social media gurus tend to have short attention spans. They also like shiny new objects, so as soon as a new technology is introduced they can’t wait to tell you how it’s the next great thing.
Here’s the reality about your audience, though: If you have something interesting to say, and you say it well, people will read it. If that weren’t true digital and hard cover books wouldn’t have combined for more than $512 million in sales just in Q1 2012. Yes, people will read long form information if they find it worth their time.
More to the point, take a look at this post from Mashable.com about the Golden State Warriors’ use of social media to connect with fans during the NBA draft. It’s more than 400 words, and definitely more than three to five paragraphs. Mashable is a pretty credible source for learning how to blog. Or this one from Tech Image client Cisco’s blog on Wi-Fi going public. It’s nearly 550 words. Even Hubspot, who you would think would adhere to the “shorter is better” meme, took more than 450 words to write this post.
With a little time and effort you can find thousands of blog posts every day that violate the “shorter is better” rule. Along with thousands more that don’t.
The reality is some topics only require a couple of lines, while others require more depth. It’s tough to talk about a technical concept or a strategic direction in 200 words or less.
If you have something worthwhile to say, don’t be afraid to say it. Use as many words as it takes – but no more. If you make your story compelling, people will read it – no matter what else you may have heard.
So what about you? Will you read a long blog post if you find it interesting? Or will you not read a post that’s more than three paragraphs no matter what the topic?