Empower and Engage Employees to Share Content

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Aug, 04, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

empower employees to share content







Great webinar from Natanya Anderson (@natanyap) from Whole Foods, Denise Holt (@deniseholt1) and Nicole Alvino (@nalvino) of Social Chorus entitled, "From Employee to Advocate: Mobile Your Team to Share Your Brand Content."


According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 52% of consumers trust an "average employee." Content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement of content on brand channels.


At Whole Foods, employees are empowered and encouraged to share the brand's story online.


Whole Foods actively recruits passionate team members to voluntarily share their offline stories online.


This has resulted in:

  • 300 active team members sharing.

  • 10,000+ social shares.

  • $35,000 in advocate market value.


According to Natanya, the five keys to successs are:


  1. Align the program to business objectives. Their metrics are engagement, awareness, employee engagement, thought leadership and morale.

  2. Start with a social media policy. This includes: mitigate risk, ensure FTC compliance, avoid marketing jargon, make sure participation is voluntary, provide resources and best practices for employees.

  3. Get leadership buy-in. Have a brand champion at every location. The leaders will drive program awareness and adoption.

  4. Create a content and engagement plan. Provide a variety of content and opportunities to share. Monitor and optimize content performance. Identify a method for ongoing communication.

  5. Identify social team members and encourage more participation. Start with the most active team members already involved with social media. Identify team members and leaders to champion the program in each store.
For companies with less engaged and empowered employees, Denise suggests an employee-brand relationship program that addresses the employees' emotional journey:
  1. Hesitation -- overcome fear of saying the wrong thing through training and role plays.

  2. Empowerment -- give employees a voice and examples of what you consider to be appropriate and relevant content to share.

  3. Stake in the company's success -- help employees see where they are making a difference sharing content and engaging with consumers in social media channels.

  4. Loyalty -- engaged employees have a desire to contribute to the company's success.

  5. Satisfaction -- examples of how employees' efforts have built, or improved, the business.
Are you and your company empowering your employees to share content and help disseminate your company's message?
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: trust, authenticity, content, employee engagement, social media, employee empowerment

Social Media + Social Business Strategy

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 01, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Use social media to improve customer experience








An affirming webinar by Shannon Sullivan Duffy, Marketing Director at Facebook, Doug Chavez, CMO at Kenshoo, Jeanette Gibson, V.P. of Customer Experience at HootSuite and Michael Kahn, CEO of Performics.

They provided the following affirmations we need to remember in order to empower our employees to help us market our businesses and provide an outstanding customer experience:

  1. Empower your employees to be brand ambassadors. Encourage them to engage prospects and customers in conversation to learn their needs and wants in order to simplify their lives.

  2. Be clear about the roll of social in your business. Do you want to drive awareness and leads or simply monitor what others' are saying about you and your brand? Identify channels on which you are committed to serving customers and prospects -- providing information of value, answering questions and addressing concerns.

  3. Integrate across all channels in which you are communicating to ensure you are delivering a consistent message. Consistency builds trust.

  4. Determine what's most important for you and your business to accomplish online -- no one model works for everyone or for every type of business.

  5. Understand your customer's journey and do what you can to add value and simplify that journey. Everyone is overloaded with content and starved for time. What can you do to simplify your customers' lives and save them time?

  6. Respond quickly and efficiently. Responding to an online query within five minutes increases the probability that person becomes a lead 100X more than if you wait 30 minutes. If you respond within five minutes, the person is likely still at their computer, or on their mobile device, and you're able to reach them.

  7. Think about how to integrate social media into everything you and your business does. Promote a content-sharing mindset whereby everyone on your team is on the lookout for content that your customers and prospects will find valuable. Such content will answer previously asked questions or provide new ideas on how your product or service will solve a particular problem.

  8. Having a content marketing mindset helps ensure you are sending an integrated message since all content can be repurposed for social media, earned media, paid media, as well as your website.


What are some ways you, your firm and your employees are using social media to grow your business and provide a better customer experience?


Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: customer experience, dialog, information of value, empower employees, content, social media, integrated marketing

5 Steps to Improve Customer Experience (#cx) Via Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jul, 01, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

customer service via social media resized 600 








Excellent webinar, "Superb Social Customer Service: The New Key Differentiator," presented by Bianca Buckridee (@blatantlybianca), with Chase customer support, Kai Petzelt (@kaipetzelt) with SAP, and Brandon Lewis with Zappos.


79% of customers spend at least 50% of their total shopping time researching products and services online.


Companies are struggling to breakthrough and engage with customers.


Companies that are successful are focused on providing a one-to-one customer experience.


They encourage a dialog between customers and employees. has done a 180 since buying Zappos.


Prior to buying Zappos, Amazon would only engage via email. And typically preformatted responses at that.


Now you can actually have a conversation with someone at Amazon and Amazon has become a consistent leader in online retail customer satisfaction.


Here's the five-steps to winning presented by Kai:


  1. Listen to customers in social media.

  2. Engage customers on their terms.

  3. Respond in real-time to critics and brand advocates.

  4. Strengthen brand perception through public engagement.

  5. Make social media an integral part of omni-channel customer service.


Note the different between multi-channel and omni-channel.


88% of companies are offering a multi-channel experience.


Only a fraction of those are offering an omni-channel experience.


Are you willing, and capable, of engaging your customers in every channel? 


It's a big investment, but the companies that do this first will earn the trust and respect of millennials since this is exactly what they expect.


Create a strategy that connects the dots between social customer service and social marketing.


According to Bianca, who has implemented social customer service for highly-regulated institutions, core components of this plan should include:

  1. Ownership
    - What does your brand stand for?
    - Who owns what? Who will create? Who will approve? Who will publish?
    - How will you handle different scenarios? Do you have a crisis management plan? Do your stakeholders know this plan?
    - Have you included all of the key constituents? Does your IT team know what you're up to?

  2. Be Yourself
    - Sign-on and sign-off when you're providing customer service on Twitter.
    - Post alerts for real-time issues that impact your customers.
    - Add humor if that's consistent with your brand voice.
    - Proactively educate customers about product changes.
    - Most importantly, be yourself. People connect with people, not companies.

  3. As You Scale Up
    - Empower specialists. Hybrid agents help streamline the process for you and the customer.
    - SMMS and internal content management is a dynamic process. Determine where the data will be housed.  How do you find a solution that will easily pull info into one place and allow agents to respond quickly. Analytics and reporting will need to provide a holistic overview across different social networks.
    - Continuous improvement -- how will you ensure your social media teams are in the loop? They are often the first to know about an issue and your first line of defense.

It was interesting to see the contrast between the regulated financial services industry and the unregulated retail industry with Zappos -- a customer service company that happens to sell stuff.


Zappos is committed to making a personal emotional connection (P.E.C.) with its customers.


It does this in three ways:


  1. No call time limits for CSRs, they stay on the phone as long as they need to in order to get the customer what they want.

  2. No sales-based performance goals for reps -- just make a personal emotional connection and help the customer.

  3. No social media policy -- just be yourself and use your best judgement.

Zappos does a great job vetting the people it hires and then engaging and empowering them to deliver a "wow" customer experience.


This is how they are gainng "customers for life" and having customers that have experienced "wow" customer experiences sharing with friends, family and colleagues via social media.

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life" 




Tags: customer experience, customer satisfaction, empower employees, employee engagement, social media

Engage with Customers in all Channels to Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jun, 11, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

engage in social media for better customer experience











Your customers, and prospects, are talking about you, your products and the level of service you provide. Are you listening?


Thanks to Oscar Alban @Verint, Kristen Jacobsen @Calabrio and Mike Hennessy @IntelliResponse for an good disccussion of "How to Understand the True Voice of the Customer." 


I have been urging clients to listen intensely to their customers in order to meet their needs and expectations for years.


As the social and mobile playing fields continue to expand, listening has become more difficult -- let alone intense listening. However, it can be done and needs to be on your radar. 


Customer expectations are changing daily as companies like Zappos provide consistently outstanding customer experiences.


Customers now expect you to:


  • Know them as a result of their personal interactions with you.

  • Offer them targeted and relevant content and promotions based on their past interactions with you.

  • Know how they found you, what they like and don't like about you and how they want to do business with you going forward.
  • Invest in social media and mobile as service channels.

  • Let them control the shopping and service process.

Customer experience (#cx) will be the primary differentiator between both B2B and B2C companies in the 21st century.


What are you doing to provide your customers with a "different and better" customer experience than your competitors?


How well do you, and your employees, know your customers?


Millennials list the phone as their fourth channel of choice at 29% versus:

  • Email/SMS = 42%

  • Social media = 36%

  • Smartphone = 32%

For your business to remain relevant to your customers over time, you must be prepared to interact with, and serve, your customers across multiple channels and touchpoints in an integrated manner.


While your business may remain siloed for organizational purposes, customer data cannot.


Everyone in your company needs to have a 360-view of the customer at their fingertips to be able to provide the customer with an acceptable level of service.


Customer information must flow seamlessly throughout your organization.


The leading omnichannel challenges are:


  • Expectations -- customer expectations are outrunning companies' ability to deliver across channels. Companies that are successful at meeting customers' expectations will have a "first-mover" advantage.

  • Employee knowledge -- customers know more about your products, services and prices than your employees. Will you invest in your employees to ensure this doesn't happen. The average financial institution spends 30 minutes trainng a teller before putting them in front of a customer.

  • Unpredictable -- customers are using different, and multiple, channels to do different things. You need to be listening intensely online to know where your customers are and where they expect you to be. Don't forget about forums, blogs and online communities in addition to traditional social media channels.

  • Loyalty -- a good customer experience in one channel is not sufficient to maintain loyalty if you're failing to fulfill customers' needs in other channels.
It's critical that your contact center and your customer experience management teams (i.e., people, processes and technology) be completely integrated.
The solutions available to engage with customers across channels are improving daily.
Define your goals and objectives with regards to ensuring that your firm is delivering an excellent customer experience across multiple channels and then begin evaluating the platfforms and solutions that will help you achieve your goals.
Talk with your customers about their needs, wants and expectations with regards to research, purchase and service currently and in the future.
Engage your customers to understand what they consider to be an acceptable and an outstanding customer experience in this ever-changing landscape of content, product and service delivery.
Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: customer experience, VoC, voice of the customer, earn your customers trust, connecting emotionally with customers, customer engagement, listen intensely, social media

Practice Social Listening to Enhance the (#cx) Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jun, 09, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

social listening enhances the customer experience









Good webinar by Ken Griffin (@kengriffin1), Jaime Vignali (@DocJMV), Doug Busk (@dbusk) and Paul Dunay (@pauldunay) on the "Art of Listening."


I have written in the past about the importance of listening intensely to what your customers and prospects have to say to improve the customer experience, as well as the products and services you provide.


Ken provided five steps all marketers should take to engage in a successful social media listening initiative:


  1. Develop consistent messaging and content. By developing consistent messaging and content, you begin to see what you should be listening for. If there's incongruence between the two, find out why and address it to ensure your messaging and content are consistent.

  2. Source and refine your creative content. Adopt a content-sharing mindset whereby everyone on your team is on the lookout for information of value that will help your customers and prospects answer their questions, and solve their problems.

  3. Improve your media plan to ensure you are reaching your customers and prospects in the channels where they are most active and most interested in receiving your message.

  4. Identify key influencers of your brand and your industry and strive to engage them in a dialog so you can get to know them, their needs and wants, better.

  5. React to real-time opportunities and threats. Prepare crisis communications in advance. Engage legal and regulatory before you need them. It's difficult to respond in real-time is everything has to go through legal before you post it. 
Segment your customers and prospects so that you know where and how they want to engage with you and where they are most likely to be talking about you.
Identify all of the communities, blogs and forums where dialog about your brand is taking place. Do not limit your listening to the primary social media channels (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instgram,
Use social listening to guide your messaging. You can be much more timely and relevant if you know what's currently being said about your brand.
Social media should be a part of your marketing ecosystem, not a separate channel.
Today, social media should be an integral part of your integrated marketing plan.
Jaime Vignali, of Novartis, suggested taking the following steps to monitor and assess your progress:
  1. Determine the goals of your listening program. Do you just want to know what's being said about you to monitor positive and negative sentiment or do you want to engage customers to build a stronger emotional connection to the brand?

  2. Identify key stakeholders for social media analytics. Who in your company would benefit from knowing what customers are discussing on social media? R&D might benefit from knowing what customers do and do not like about your products. Customer service would like to know of any concerns, or kudos, regarding how customers are being treated. 

  3. Kickoff and training. Introduce your social listening initiative to the key stakeholders within your firm so they understand what to expect and so you can agree upon how to respond to different situations.

  4. Share case studies and examples throughout the company. Once different departments see the types of insights you are garnering from your social listening initiative, they're going to want to participate.

  5. Iterate and refine. Always be learning, testing and improving. Don't be afraid to actively engage brand advocates online, or offline, to discuss how you can do a better job of meeting their needs in person and on social media.

You'll be amazed what you will learn from your customers if you listen intensely.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales


Tags: customer experience, dialog, VoC, voice of the customer, listen intensely, social media

Use Social Media to Enhance Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, May, 29, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

Use social media to enhance customer experiences








Thanks to John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, for the webinar, "How To Social Surround Your Prospects and Customers."


Marketing and sales have an hourglass relationship:


  • Marketing = Know --> Like --> Trust


  • Sales = Try --> Buy


  • Service = Repeat -- > Refer


The future of marketing is less about demand creation and more about organizing behavior around the seven steps.


The social surround principles of organizing behavior around the seven steps are:


  • Listening = prospecting

  • Teaching = presenting

  • Insights = information sharing

  • Storybuilding = nurturing

  • Network building = closing


Content X Connection = Perfect Customer Journey


Map the entire customer journey: markeitng, sales, enrollment, service, education, follow-up, billing/finance, resell/upsell to understand what content you need to provide in order to connect with the customer at each step.


Your content must be relevant to the prospect and provide information of value.


Identify content for every stage of the process:

  • Content powers connections: awareness, trust, education, engagement, conversion

  • Content builds awareness: blog posts, events, advertising, videos, ebooks, press releases

  • Content builds trust: answers to FAQs, how to's, reviews, testimonials, articles

  • Content builds engagement: referrals, reviews, video success stories, video testimonials

  • Content creates referrals: invites, co-branding, sponsored, curated, incented

  • You can also use other people's content: custom RSS feeds, republishing, sharing, retweeting, storify  and

John provided the elements of his content creation toolbox:

  • -- infographics

  • Screenflow/Camtasia -- screencasts

  • GoToWebinar/MeetingBurner -- webcasts

  • Skype/Call Recorder -- recorded interviews

  • Canva/Wordswag -- image editing

  • Wufoo/Survey Monkey -- custom surveys

  • -- transription

There are a number of tools to use during your social journey:

  • Collect: Hootsuite, Feedly, Talkwalker, Signals, Diigo

  • Curate: Pulse, Feedly,, Newsle

  • Create: Wordswag, Canva,,

  • Share: Hootsuite, Feedly, Buffer, Republist 

  • Engage: CRM, groups, Rapportive

Build a total content system around the keywords you are using to optimize and improve your SEO, traffic and leads.


Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, information of value, be relevant, content, social media

3 Keys to Improve Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 27, 2014 @ 10:05 AM


3 keys to improving customer experience







Thanks to Shep Hyken, customer service expert, on his recent webinar, "What Happens When The Customer Experience Breaks: The Dark Side of Customer Experience."


Regardless of how customer-centric your organization, at some point your customer service will fail.


How will your customers respond?


If you've been providing a consistently positive customer service experience, they'll let you know and help you fix it.


A certain level of customer service is "table stakes."


Fortunately, and sadly, the bar is still low.


However, companies like Zappos, Lexus and Ritz Carlton are educating customers, raising the bar and raising customer expectations.


Social media gives the customer a voice.


A dissatisfied customer used to tell 13 people about their experience.


Today, they tell 100's or 1000's. Social media has magnified the customer's voice.


There are three actions you should have in place to ensure you are delivering a consistently positive, and occasionally "wow," customer experience:

  1. Journey map the customer experience. Be very detailed noting every touch point and every point of impact. Once you've completed your map, share it with a few customers to get their feedback. I'll guarantee your customers will point out some things that never occurred to you, or your team.

  2. Perform a causal, root cause, analysis of why things happen with regards to delivering customer service -- both good and bad things. 

  3. Create a complaint map of how complaints should be handled and how complaints are actually handled. Obviously you will end up with several different maps since most firms deal with several different types of complaints.

In mapping the customer journey, think in terms of: awareness, interest, selection, maintenance and retention.


Your focal points should be: demographics, entry and exit points in the journey, risk and failure points and mitigation strategies.


Moments of truth will vary by customer, but they're important to document. Ask customers what they consisder to be a "moment of truth" for them.


Your vision for the customer experience starts at the top. Executives set the tone, disseminate and share a crystal clear vision of the customer experience.


Lexus has The Lexus Covenant, part of which says, "Lexus will treat each customer as we would a guest in our home."


Ritz Carlton's credo is, "Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen."


Both of these are easy enough for every employee to understand. Your firm's vision for customer service and the ultimate customer experience must be easy enough for all of your employees to understand.


Executives need to stay engaged by interacting with customers and customer-facing employees.


Ideally, every employee interacts with a customer at least once a month.


You cannot connect too much with a customer. The learning you will get if you listen intensely is invaluable.


When performing the causal analysis: aggregate, classify, analyze, modify and implement.


Focal points should be: data sources, demographic drivers, process modification, benchmarks and tracking. 


Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) to determine whether or not a customer will recommend your product or service to a family member, friend or colleague. It's easy to implement and you'll quickly learn what you are doing well and where improvement is needed.


To build a complaint map, think in terms of: capture, investigate, resolve, communicate and follow-up.


You should be doing this for both internal and external complaints.


Employees should be treating their colleagues with the same level of respect and decorum as a customer.


Focal points for the complaint map are: channel breadth and coverage, efficiency and accuracy, empowerment levels and agility and adaptibility.


Employees need to be empowered to address a customer's concern at the point of interaction.


Empower employees to act like an owner and solve the problem creatively.


Empower employees to say "yes" to the customer. If they're going to say "no," they must get approval from a supervisor to do so. 


The Ritz Carlton empowers all of its employees to spend up to $2,000 to provide the guest with an outstanding customer experience.


If someone gets a complaint from a customer, they own the complaint. It's their responsibility to resolve the complaint with urgency. Don't just fix the problem, restore the confidence of the customer. Earn the customer's trust that everyone in your organization will "do what they say they'll do when they say they'll do it." 


Service is a differentiator and brands are taking better care of their customers.


How long before you begn taking better care of your customers?


Once you hit your goal, set a new goal and keep learning.


Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: consumer insights, customer experience, customer satisfaction, empower employees, customer centric, social media, do what you say you'll do when you say you wil

10 Reasons to Blog and Share Information of Value

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 19, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

blog to generate trust
  1. Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links (source: Content+).

  2. 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing (Content+).

  3. Companies that blog 15 times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don't blog (HubSpot).

  4. Companies with an active blog report 97% more leads (Content+).

  5. Content from reputable sources is the most shared (UCLA).

  6. 90% of users listen to recommendations shared from friends (Votier Digital).

  7. Interesting content is the #3 reason people follow brands on social media (Content+).

  8. 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles over ads (Content+).

  9. 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them (Custom Content Council).

  10. 60% of consumer feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site (Content+).


If you don't have a blog, start one.


Start by answering frequently asked questions from customers and prospects.


You'll generate more traffic, more leads, better SEO performance and, ultimately, more business.


If you need some help, let me know.


Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, be relevant, social media

4 Keys of Social Media and Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Apr, 21, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

4 keys to social media and customer experience







Great article in a recent edition of Customer Relationship Magazine entitled, "4 Pillars of Responsible Customer Engagement."

The four pillars identified by Sarah Sluis are:

  1. Relevance

  2. Respect

  3. Credibility

  4. Value

These pillars are very consistent with my four rules for participating in social media which I've shared numerous times:

  1. Be relevant

  2. Be reliable

  3. Be responsive

  4. Be real 

  5. Or, be gone


I believe the two go hand-in-hand and you should be treating someone in social media the same way you're treating a customer -- with respect, honesty, transparency, all while providing value.


Relevance is understanding the person's needs and wants based on your knowledge of the individual and then providing information, products or services in which the person will find value.


Given how much we know about people today, particularly customers, it should be relatively easy to provide value.


Customers are giving a lot of information to companies with the knowledge and trust that these companies will use this information to provide more value. Fail to do this and you will lose your customers' trust.


Respect is treating others how we would like to be treated ourselves. Go above and beyond providing information of value or outstanding service. Don't waste people's time, do what you can to make their lives easier.


Empower your employees to provide information of value and outstanding customer service. Taking the time to teach them your company's vision, mission, values and strategic positioning will help your business and help your employees.


Recognize employees who go the extra mile in helping a prospect or a customer. Employees that do this are the future of your organization.


Remember, your employees will only treat your customers and clients as well as you treat your employees.


Credibility. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. This will earn your prospects' and customers' trust.


Hold your employees accountable to do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. This will stay with your employees the rest of their lives and help them be more trustworthy to themselves, their family, friends and employers.


Deliver on your brand promises. You do have brand promises don't you?


Provide value in everything you do and in everything you sell. The more value you provide, the more repeat business you will have from customers and their friends and family.


Loyal customers provide an annuity revenue stream for your business. Invest more in keeping current customers happy than in getting new customers.


I've recently heard about two companies who were hiring more sales people while neglecting to implement voice of the customer or customer retention programs.


A loyal customer is more valuable over time than a new customer.


It's easier to provide great customer service than it is to get a new customer.


Put customer satisfaction ahead of awareness and lead generation to build a more successful business.


Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: customer experience, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, be relevant, social media

Social Media Statistics to Know

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Apr, 10, 2014 @ 22:04 PM

Great article from Fast Company with a lot of great statistics that anyone active in social media will want to know.


I tend to get carried away. And for the times that I do, it sure would be nice to know if all this extra typing is hurting or helping my cause. I want to stand out on social media, but I want to do it in the right way.

Curious, I dug around and found some answers for the ideal lengths of tweets and titles and everything in between. Many of these could have been answered with “it depends,” but where’s the fun in that? Solid research exists to show the value of writing, tweeting, and posting at certain lengths. We can learn a lot from scientific social media guidelines like these. Here’s the best of what I found.


Whom should you trust when it comes to advice on the ideal length of a tweet? How about Twitter itself?

Twitter’s best practices reference research by Buddy Media about tweet length: 100 characters is the engagement sweet spot for a tweet.

Creativity loves constraints and simplicity is at our core. Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages. There’s no magical length for a Tweet, but a recent report by Buddy Media revealed that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.

The Buddy Media research falls in line with similar research by Track Social in a study of 100 well-known brands that are popular on Twitter. Track Social also found that the perfect Tweet length was right around 100 characters.

Their analysis saw a spike in retweets among those in the 71-100 character range--so-called “medium” length tweets. These medium tweets have enough characters for the original poster to say something of value and for the person retweeting to add commentary as well.


Forty characters is not much at all. (The sentence I just wrote is 35 characters.)

But 40 is the magic number that Jeff Bullas found was most effective in his study of retail brands on Facebook. He measured engagement of posts, defined by “like” rate and comment rate, and the ultra-short 40-character posts received 86% higher engagement than others.

The 40-character group also represented the smallest statistical set in the study (only 5% of all posts qualified at this length), so best practices on Facebook also include the next most popular set: Posts with 80 characters or fewer received 66% higher engagement.

Many different studies over the years have confirmed that shorter posts are better on Facebook. One such study by BlitzLocal looked at nearly 120 billion Facebook impressions and found that performance tailed off as posts grew longer. Their particular data found significant advantages to question posts between 100 to 119 characters.


To maximize the readability and appearance of your posts on Google+, you may want to keep your text on one line. Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger studied the Google+ breaking point and found that headlines should not exceed 60 characters.

Here is an example of what we mean. The post below had a headline exceeding 60 characters and got bumped.

This post kept the title within 60 characters and stayed on one line.

Demian’s advice goes even deeper. If your Google+ headline simply can’t be contained in one line, then you can turn to Plan B. Write a superb first sentence.

In the last update, Google changed the layout of posts so that you only see three lines of the original post before you see “Read more” link. In other words, your first sentence has to be a gripping teaser to get people to click “Read More.”

Here is Demian’s killer example:

In terms of overall post length, Google+ posts average 156 characters, according to Qunitly Research. Digging further, Quintly found the largest spike in engagement at posts of 5 characters in length and the second-highest spike in posts of 442 characters. Takeaway: You can write a lot longer on Google+ and still find great results.


How much of the headline for this story did you read before you clicked?

According to a post by KISSmetrics, you might not have read it all.

Writing for KISSmetrics, headline expert Bnonn cites usability research revealing we don’t only scan body copy, we also scan headlines. As such, we tend to absorb only the first three words and the last three words of a headline. If you want to maximize the chance that your entire headline gets read, keep your headline to six words.

Of course, six-word headlines are rare (and hard to write!). If you can’t cut your title down to six words, you can still be aware of how your headline might be read, and you can adjust accordingly. As the KISSmetrics post says:

Of course, that’s seldom enough to tilt the specificity-meter into the red. And I have it on good authority that some of the highest-converting headlines on the web are as long as 30 words. As a rule, if it won’t fit in a tweet it’s too long. But let me suggest that rather than worrying about length you should worry about making every word count. Especially the first and last three.


When measuring the content that performs best on their site, Medium focuses not on clicks but on attention. How long do readers stick with an article?

In this sense, an ideal blog post would be one that people read. And Medium’s research on this front says that the ideal blog post is seven minutes long.

To arrive at this number, Medium measured the average total seconds spent on each post and compared this to the post length. All Medium posts are marked with a time signature for how long the read should be. After adjusting their analysis for a glut of shorter posts (overall, 74% of posts are under three minutes long and 94% are under six minutes long), they came to their conclusion:

And there we have it: the average total seconds rises for longer posts, peaks at seven minutes, and then declines.

And in terms of word count, a seven-minute read comes in around 1,600 words.

(A photo-heavy post could bring the average down closer to 1,000. Medium’s seven-minute story on ideal post length was filled with images and graphs and contained 980 words.)

Capsicum Mediaworks examined the question of ideal post length from an SEO perspective. They looked at the top 10 results on search results pages and counted the words in each article. Their data included text in the sidebars of posts, so you can knock a few words off of the totals below.

Of course, as with any of these ideal lengths, the answers you find here could very well be taken as “it depends,” since research varies from site to site. For instance, Moz found that longer posts on their blog get linked to more often, and Upworthy found little correlation between length and attention when they tested Medium’s hypothesis for themselves. (Upworthy cited factors like type of posts and audience as a couple of possible explanations for the discrepancy.)

Perhaps the best takeaway here is this, borrowed from the conclusion of Medium’s study:

What it does mean is that it’s worth writing however much you really need. Don’t feel constrained by presumed short attention spans. If you put in the effort, so will your audience.


I know, I know. Width and length aren’t the same thing, but I just couldn’t resist this interesting take. Social media expert Derek Halpern found that there are a pair of very important, underlying factors that go into the width of your content:

  • Content width can give the appearance of simplicity or complexity
  • Content width is key to maximizing reader comprehension

The ideal paragraph length, in this sense, would appear simple to the reader and allow for easy reading. Halpern believes he found the window where this happens.

The problem is, to ensure maximum comprehension and the appearance of simplicity, the perfect line length ranges between 40 and 55 characters per line, or in other words, a content column that varies between 250-350 pixels wide (it depends on font size and choice).

Forty and 55 characters per line means about 8 to 11 words. If you’re viewing the Buffer blog in a desktop browser, you’re likely seeing up to 20 characters per line. Whoops!

You may have noticed many sites online that have a different font for their lead paragraph than they do for the remainder of their text. Would you believe there is psychology at play here? Consider that shorter lines appear as less work for the reader; they make it easier to focus and to jump quickly from one line to the next. Opening paragraphs with larger fonts--and therefore fewer characters per line--are like a a running start to reading a piece of content. This style gets readers hooked with an easy-to-read opening paragraph, then you can adjust the line width from there.

Here’s an example from Smashing Magazine:


In September 2012, MailChimp published the following headline on its blog: Subject Line Length Means Absolutely Nothing. This was quite the authoritative statement, but MailChimp had the data to back it up.

Their research found no significant advantage to short or long subject lines in emails. Clicks and opens were largely the same.

By this token, you are likely to be okay writing an email of any length (and always better off being specific and helpful with the subject you write, regardless of how many words you use). That being said, other research hints at a sweet spot: 28-39 characters.

A study released by Mailer Mailer around the same time as MailChimp’s study found a slight bump in opens and clicks at a certain range of characters. Here is their analysis:

  • 4–15 characters: 15.2% open; 3.1% click
  • 16–27 characters: 11.6% open; 3.8% click
  • 28–39 characters: 12.2% open; 4% click
  • 40–50 characters: 11.9% open; 2.8% click
  • 51+ characters: 10.4% open; 1.8% click

The stat is one of the few of its kind to show a demonstrative (but not overwhelming) difference in subject line lengths. Litmus referenced this study in their popular subject line infographic. If there were ever to be a recommended length for a subject based on research, this would be it.

Beyond the perfect length, you can also adhere to best practices. In general, a 50-character maximum is recommended, although MailChimp does point out that there can be exceptions:

The general rule of thumb in email marketing is to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less. Our analysis found this to generally be the rule. The exception was for highly targeted audiences, where the reader apparently appreciated the additional information in the subject line.

Of course, you can always just learn from those who do it best and those who do it worst. In MailChimp’s studies they came across some especially high performers--and some low performers.


Organizers of TED have found that 18 minutes is the ideal length of a presentation, and so all presenters--including Bill Gates and Bono--are required to come in under this mark.

The science behind this 18-minute mark comes from studies of attention spans. Scientists seem to agree on a range of 10 to 18 minutes for how long most people can pay attention before they check out. The physiological reason behind this is that new information must be processed by the brain, resulting in a huge use of glucose, oxygen, and blood flow as brain neurons fire and burn energy. This loss of energy leads to fatigue.

Carmine Gallo, writing on LinkedIn, pointed to even more scientific research at the root of this attention-time phenomenon. Gallo wrote of Dr. Paul King of Texas Christian University who likens the act of listening and absorbing information to lifting weights: The more we are asked to take in, the heavier and heavier the load gets. Eventually, we can’t hold the weight anymore, and we drop it all--or forget it all.

King tested this on graduate students, observing that those who went to class three days a week for 50 minutes recalled more information than those who went to class one day a week for three hours.

Science is a nice reason to put a limit on presentations, but if you’re sharing yours online or looking for virality, there could be other important factors, too. Here is what TED curator Chris Anderson thinks:

It [18 minutes] is the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. … It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.


Title tags are the bits of text that define your page on a search results page. Brick-and-mortar stores have business names; your web page has a title tag.

Recent changes to the design of Google’s results pages mean that the maximum length for titles is around 60 characters. If your title exceeds 60 characters, it will get truncated with an ellipse. The design change can be seen below where a formerly ideal title has now been truncated.

Finding a hard-and-fast rule for the maximum recommendation of a title tag isn’t as easy as you’d think. Quick typography lesson: Google uses Arial for the titles on its results pages, Arial is a proportionally-spaced font, meaning that different letters take up different width. A lowercase “i” is going to be narrower than a lowercase “w.” Therefore, the actual letters in your title will change the maximum allowable characters that can fit on one line.

Moz dug deep to see where exactly this maximum character limit surfaced for truncated titles. They found that 55 characters seemed to be the breaking point as a general rule.


This one may not apply to all of you, but if you’re trying to name your startup it’s a useful find. According to Daily Blog Tips, these are the characteristics of a good domain name:

  • It is short
  • It is easy to remember
  • It is easy to spell
  • It is descriptive or brandable
  • It does not contain hyphens and numbers
  • It has a .com extension

Daily Blog Tips also found the ideal length. They ran an Alexa report that looked at the domains for the top 250 websites. The results: Over 70% of the sites had domain names of eight characters or less, and the average number of characters per domain was just over seven.


For the tl;dr version of this article on ideal length, here’s a graphic that encompasses all the guidelines mentioned above.

What lengths have you found work best for you? I’d be keen to hear your thoughts in the comments.

This article originally appeared in Buffer and is reprinted with permission.

[Image: Flickr user Will Culpepper]

Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, be relevant, social media