Any social media user or marketer will tell you that not all posts are created equal. There’s a certain “magic” to posts that have the capacity to go viral and circulate among thousands of users that simply isn’t there in the vast majority of posts. Analyzing and discovering these “magic” qualities has been the main focus of social media marketers for the better part of a decade.
There are many qualities which, independently or together, can help a post be more popular (and accordingly, increase the value of a brand to its followers). For example, funny posts tend to get more shares, informational posts tend to get more attention, and controversial posts tend to garner more comments—with rare posts that embody all these qualities getting the best of all worlds.
But there’s one quality of social media posts that matters far more than all the others, and it must be applied to your strategy if you want any hope of building and retaining a loyal social audience: conciseness.
Why is conciseness so important when there are so many other qualities to consider?
It’s no secret that the majority of online users have short attention spans. Most people read headlines without clicking through to full articles and skim through the articles they do click through to. On social media, people are generally interested in short, fast updates—they might be scrolling through their newsfeeds on the go or checking in at work. But in most cases, users are either limited in time or are interested in seeing lots of updates in a short time period. That means each post gets less attention, which means you need to stuff as much information and value as possible into a limited amount of space.
The overabundance of content and social media posts from major brands has created a kind of disillusionment in much of the social media population. People are hyper-aware that most brands on social media, even personal brands, are interested in selling them products or services as a bottom line. Any post is therefore treated with caution and suspicion, as users attempt to analyze whether or not the post has an ulterior motive. Keeping your posts short and sweet makes them more authentic, more straightforward, and more believable. Conciseness, in a way, circumnavigates the built-in “BS” detector that so many social users have developed.
Think of conciseness this way: making a post concise is a matter of taking a post, stripping away the least valuable parts of it, and leaving the most valuable parts. This “value” can be information, entertainment, surprise, or anything else you deem appropriate. The most important result from this is that your post has a higher overall value by the end of the process. Applying a concise format to all your social posts increases the average value of each of your posts, which then increases the overall value of your brand.
One of the best aspects of conciseness is that it can be applied to any type of post. While “funny” is generally a good quality for helping a post go viral, it isn’t appropriate for every post or every business. Similarly, “shocking” isn’t a quality that can be shoehorned into any post you make. “Concise,” however, can be applied to funny posts, shocking posts, informative posts, controversial posts, or anything else you can muster. You’ll never have to compromise your brand personality or post intentions for any reason—conciseness is just a matter of taking a post and making it more valuable by removing whatever isn’t absolutely necessary.
When you focus on conciseness as a landmark quality for your social posts, you force yourself to consider the intentions of your posts. For example, rather than simply writing out and update, you have to stop and think: what am I trying to achieve here? What is the value of this post to my users? And subsequently, what pieces of this post can be removed while still retaining that value? These questions force you to reevaluate all your individual posts, leading to more critical choices and better final products.
Finally, keep in mind that most brands (including your competitors) aren’t engaging in a strategy to improve the conciseness of their posts. They’re taking the easy route, writing posts as they pop into their heads and forgoing the editing process that’s so crucial for improving post quality. Making your posts concise instantly differentiates you from the competition, even if your audience members don’t overtly notice it at first. They’ll gradually see that your posts are somehow more efficient and more valuable, and will naturally gravitate toward you over time.
If you take a post and create both a concise and a non-concise version of it, the concise version will outperform the alternative without fail. Blogs, whitepapers, and other types of content can benefit from a more drawn-out format, but even then, conciseness matters—length and conciseness are two separate qualities. For example, a 1,000-page novel can be concise if every word of every sentence adds significant value to the piece as a whole. On social media, you’re already limited in length due to character counts and formatting requirements, so it’s even more important to focus on conciseness there.