How to Transform Your Blog Content into Compelling Videos

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Here at HubSpot, we’ve told fellow marketers about the importance of creating compelling video content to engage your busy audience. And for the most part, video content lives on social media channels — like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

But we wondered if video content had a place on our blog as well.

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Marketers are prioritizing visual content, but many marketers don’t know how to start — and others worry that video will disrupt and replace written blog content altogether.

Changing content preferences are an opportunity to innovate, not a reason to be afraid. Read on for our latest data about how content marketing is shifting and for a deep-dive into our first experiment turning blog posts into compelling video content.

The State of Video Content

We surveyed more than 6,000 marketing and sales professionals to learn how they’re changing their strategies to meet the preferences of the modern consumer. And a lot of the chatter was on the subjects of video content and social media.

Almost 50% of marketers are adding YouTube and Facebook channels for video distribution in the next year.

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33% of inbound marketers listed visual content creation, such as videos, as their top priority for the coming year.

Video content fell below the top two priorities — growing SEO presence and creating blog content — but it occupies the minds of a large part of the marketers we surveyed. It was on our minds too, which inspired the experiment. Read on for the details and the results.

Can Blog and Video Work Together? Our Experiment

What

My colleagues Jamee SheehyNick Carney, and I wanted to learn if producing video content would improve traffic to HubSpot Marketing Blog posts and social media channels.

Why

I kept hearing that our audience wanted more video content. In a 2016 HubSpot Research survey, almost 50% of respondents said they wanted to see more video content and social media posts, so I wanted to start there.

When

Between February and May of 2017, I worked with the team to publish video content for seven new blog posts.

How

We published video content on YouTube, Facebook, and on Instagram Stories. For some blog posts, we published videos on both YouTube and Facebook. The YouTube and Facebook videos were then embedded into the blog posts for cross-promotion, and all of the videos on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube linked to the blog posts.

Results of the Experiment

Videos on Facebook and YouTube

1) How to Be Productive After a Long Weekend

What We Published:

We embedded a YouTube video in the blog post and published the same video natively on Facebook.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 1,395 1,770 2,196
YouTube Views 267 335 429
Facebook Views 3,900 6,100 6,229
YouTube/Blog Views % 19% 19% 19%
Social Referral Traffic 221 305 372
Social/Total Traffic % 16% 17% 17%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. YouTube Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 30 seconds or more
  3. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  4. YouTube/Blog Views % = % of blog post visitors who watched the YouTube video
  5. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  6. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • The YouTube video achieved a 55% view-through rate: The average watch time was 0:41 of a 1:14-long video.
  • The YouTube video contributed more blog traffic than the Facebook video.
  • The topic choice reflected in the lower-than-typical number of blog post and video views across the board — video topics should be either highly visual or more universally compelling.

2) The Ultimate Social Media Calendar for 2017 [Resource]

What We Published:

We embedded a YouTube video in the blog post and published the same video natively on Facebook.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 4,366 16,509 28,882
YouTube Views 409 1,242 1,673
Facebook Views 12,320 16,000 16,456
YouTube/Blog Views % 10% 13% 6%
Social Referral Traffic 262 1,369 2,019
Social/Total Traffic % 6% 9% 7%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. YouTube Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 30 seconds or more
  3. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  4. YouTube/Blog Views % = % of blog post visitors who watched the YouTube video
  5. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  6. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms

Key Takeaways:

  • This was the highest-performing blog post and YouTube video, and the second-highest performing Facebook video in the entire experiment. The topic is interesting whether you’re a marketer or not, and there is a lot of search volume around the topic. The video isn’t highly visual, but the interesting topic helped drive video and blog post views.
  • The YouTube video contributed more blog traffic than the Facebook video.
  • The YouTube video achieved a 72% view-through rate: The average watch time was 0:53 of a 1:14-long video.

Videos on Facebook

3) March Social Media News: Facebook vs. Snapchat, WhatsApp for Business & More

What We Published:

We published a video natively on Facebook and embedded it in the blog post.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 1,287 3,124 3,725
Facebook Views 6,066 6,872 7,001
Social Referral Traffic 177 286 340
Social/Total Traffic % 14% 9% 9%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  3. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  4. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • Although neither the blog post nor the Facebook video achieved a huge number of views, the Facebook video drove a meaningful portion of views to the blog post on the day it was published.
  • A technical difficulty forced us to re-upload a new version of the Facebook video, which lost us a few thousand views.

4) April Social Media News: AR on Facebook, Ads on Snapchat & More

What We Published:

We published a video natively on Facebook and embedded it in the blog post.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 2,278 2,912 3,115
Facebook Views 10,847 12,039 13,214
Social Referral Traffic 123 179 215
Social/Total Traffic % 5% 6% 7%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  3. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  4. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • The video featured video b-roll and animations instead of talking heads — and it performed well on Facebook (thanks to Nick Carney‘s video editing skills).
  • The video was published on a Friday, when people might be more willing to browse Facebook and watch videos — this could account for the first-day jump in video views.
  • A cool video doesn’t necessarily mean viewers will click through to read a blog post — this video was so informative, it stood on its own and didn’t impact blog traffic much.

5) Brain Typing & Skin Hearing: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook’s 2017 F8 Conference

What We Published:

We published a video natively on Facebook and embedded it in the blog post.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 1,107 1,855 2,114
Facebook Views 15,765 16,991 17,401
Social Referral Traffic 83 128 150
Social/Total Traffic % 7% 7% 7%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  3. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  4. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • We published this blog post later in the day to cover the conference, so it wasn’t sent out with our daily subscriber email — the likely reason for low traffic on the day it was published.
  • This is another example of a high-performing Facebook video that didn’t translate into high blog post performance.

Instagram Stories

6) February Social Media News: Weather on Facebook, SNL on Snapchat & More

What We Published:

We published an Instagram Story with the option to swipe up to read the blog post. The Instagram Story wasn’t published on the same day the blog post was published, so attribution numbers aren’t as straightforward.

How It Performed:
  Day of Instagram Story End of Experiment
Instagram Story Views 2,372  
Instagram Story Clicks 149  
Blog Post Views (Day of Story) 726  
Blog Post Views Overall 2,031 2,580
Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) 154  
Social Referral Traffic Overall 199 243
Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) 21%  
Social/Total Traffic % Overall 10% 9.5%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Instagram Story Views = # of times people viewed the Instagram Story
  2. Instagram Story Clicks = # of times people swiped up on the Instagram Story to view the blog post
  3. Blog Post Views (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  4. Blog Post Views Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits since date of publication
  5. Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  6. Social Referral Traffic Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms total
  7. Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) =% of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  8. Socia/Total Traffic % Overall = Cumulative % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms total

Key Takeaways:

  • The Instagram Story generated the vast majority of referral traffic, and it was a big driver of traffic overall.

7) Are Notifications Driving Us Crazy?

What We Published:

We published an Instagram Story with the option to swipe up to read the blog post. The Instagram Story wasn’t published on the same day the blog post was published, so attribution numbers aren’t as straightforward.

How It Performed:
  Day of Instagram Story End of Experiment
Instagram Story Views 2,300  
Instagram Story Clicks ~ 100  
Blog Post Views (Day of Story) 186  
Blog Post Views Overall 1,626 1,979
Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) 120  
Social Referral Traffic Overall 341 433
Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) 65%  
Social/Total Traffic % Overall 21% 22%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Instagram Story Views = # of times people viewed the Instagram Story
  2. Instagram Story Clicks = # of times people swiped up on the Instagram Story to view the blog post
  3. Blog Post Views (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  4. Blog Post Views Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits since date of publication
  5. Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  6. Social Referral Traffic Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms total
  7. Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) =% of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  8. Socia/Total Traffic % Overall = Cumulative % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms total
Key Takeaways:
  • Here’s another example of a high level of Instagram Story engagement. The blog post achieved a low number of views overall, but it’s meaningful that Instagram Story viewers clicked through to read the blog post and weren’t just absently scrolling.
  • The Story drove 65% of social traffic on the day of and contributed to the final social referral percentage — which is a higher than other posts in this experiment.

Going Forward: 3 Lessons Learned

We’ve already learned a lot from the experiment — here are the biggest lessons we’ll take into the next phase of turning blog content into videos.

1) High-performing Facebook videos didn’t necessarily result in a lot of blog traffic.

In a few cases, the Facebook video’s performance far outstripped the performance of the blog post — and didn’t drive a lot of traffic to the blog post, either. (Facebook doesn’t share data on the sources of video views, so the blog post embeds could have helped increase the number of views.)

A big part of the videos’ high view numbers on Facebook is undoubtedly thanks to the filming and editing skills of our team. But I think it’s also a reflection on how thorough and engaging the videos were — the viewer might not have needed to click the blog post to read more about a topic they’d already watched a video on.

Facebook videos might better serve as standalone pieces of content rather than traffic drivers to blog posts in our case, but in some cases, both the blog and Facebook worked symbiotically.

2) What goes “viral” can depend on the medium.

The best-performing blog post and YouTube video topic — as well as the second best-performing Facebook video — was the social media holiday calendar. In this case, the blog post views and the Facebook views increased rapidly alongside each other. I chose the topic based on keyword search volume and created a blog post and video that are useful and interesting to anyone on social media — which contributed to the high number of video views and a large amount of organic search traffic — 20% of the total traffic to the post.

Still, there was a relatively low amount of traffic to the blog post from the Facebook video — another reason to believe that Facebook posts might not be the biggest blog traffic driver.

The blog recap about the F8 conference achieved a smaller number of views, but the Facebook video was the best-performing in the entire experiment. Based on this experiment, news coverage and lifestyle content perform best on social media, while keyword-specific content performs better on the blog. For future video blog content experiments, we’ll try to create content that checks off both boxes to get another hit for both media.

3) Instagram Stories drove a high percentage of clickthroughs to the blog posts.

We found that the Instagram Stories we published resulted in a high percentage of clickthroughs to the blog post. In these examples, the blog posts didn’t achieve a high number of views overall, but a huge portion of social traffic the day of posting could be attributed to the Instagram Story. 

This means viewers weren’t just clicking through Instagram — they were watching stories and following the desired call-to-action to read the blog post. We’ll continue using this engaged audience to promote content on Instagram.

Next on the Blog

For the next installment of this experiment, we’re focusing on a keyword-based strategy. We’ll experiment with updating older, high-performing blog posts with new video content on YouTube and optimizing the post and the video for Google and YouTube search, respectively. We’ll publish more tactical, instructional videos for people conducting YouTube searches, and we’ll experiment with a greater variety of video creation and editing skills. And on our social media channels, we’ll cover more breaking news in the technology space and more lifestyle content we’ve seen do so well.

Next on the blog, we’ll cover more resources for how to create video content on your own, and coverage of more interesting experiments we’re doing here at HubSpot to learn more about our audience. In the meantime, download the 2017 State of Inbound Report to learn more about the latest data and insights from marketers around the world.

Have you started experimenting with video content on your blog? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: How to Transform Your Blog Content into Compelling Videos
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

20 Creative Writing Prompts That'll Help You Beat Writer's Block [Infographic]

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I’ve written a lot of blog posts over the past few years. (Read: I’ve stared at a lot of blinking cursors on blank screens over the past few years.) And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about business blogging, it’s that getting started is often the hardest part.

When you’re tasked with writing regularly and writing well, it’s natural to feel some pressure. My advice? Rather than letting that stress overcome you, consider what you can do to regain control of your time and output.

One technique I’ve found to be incredibly helpful in these situations is the act of freewriting, or writing continuously for a set period of time without worrying about accuracy, punctuation, or usability.

Trouble is, sometimes coming up with a topic to freewrite about can also leave you feeling stuck or stumped. That’s why we put together a handy list of creative writing prompts below to help you get started.

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hubspot blogging trial

Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Character Count Guide for Blog Posts, Videos, Tweets & More

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When it comes to writing text for your blog and social media posts, many marketers wonder, “But what’s the character limit?” It’s never a simple question — sometimes, it’s answered by parameters established by certain channels. And on other occasions, it’s more a question of what’s ideal.

For example, you probably know the character limit for a tweet is 140, but did you know that the ideal length is actually less than that? (Hold tight — we’ll explain why.) While we’ve written before about optimizing your actual content, we thought it would be helpful to gather the numbers of character limits — both enforced and ideal — for different online channels, all in one place. New Call-to-action

Below, you’ll find a more detailed guide to character limits and ideal character counts for posts on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and YouTube.

The Length & Character Count for Everything on the Internet

1) Blog Posts

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Source: Medium

Quick reference:

  • Post length: 2100 words
  • Title: Under 60 characters
  • Meta Description: Under 155 characters

Post Body

When it comes to the length of blog posts, there are a few different items to consider. For example:

  • According to Medium, posts with an average read time of seven minutes captured the most attention.
  • The average reading speed of native English-speaking adults remains commonly cited as 300 words per minute, according to research conducted in 1990.
  • At that reading rate, the ideal post length is 2100 words.
  • That aligns with research previously conducted by serpIQ, which indicated that, on average, the top 10 results for most Google searches are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

That means that this ideal word count can address goals around both readability and SEO. But that’s just the actual body of the post. Plus, when we looked at our own blog on organic traffic, we found that the sweet spot was 2,250–2,500 words.

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But that’s just the post body — let’s have a look at the other areas of text that comprise a full blog post.

Title

The length of your title depends on your goals, and where it will appear.

Let’s start with SEO. Do you want this post to rank really well in search? It turns out, that often has to do with the dimensions of each entry on a search engine results page (SERP). For Google, titles of search results are usually contained at a length of 600 pixels — which Moz measures as being able to display the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. So, if you don’t want your title to get cut off in the search results, it might be best to keep it under 60 characters. But when in doubt, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo, or you can use Moz’s title tag preview tool.

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Then, there’s optimizing your title for social sharing. On Twitter, for example, consider that each tweet has a limit of 140 characters — however, if you include an image, that doesn’t count toward the limit. But consider that even the average shortened URL takes up about 23 characters — that leaves you with about 116 characters left for the title and any accompanying text.

In our own analysis at HubSpot, we found that headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average, while headlines with either 12 or 14 words got the most Facebook Likes.

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Meta Description

A meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given webpage. It’s the short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about.

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Moz notes that Google seems to cut off most meta descriptions — which are sometimes called snippets — after roughly two lines of text — though there’s some conjecture that, like title tags, it’s actually based on pixel count. In any case, it amounts to about 160 characters, though this particular outlet recommends keeping it at 155.

Again, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo.

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2) Facebook

Quick reference:

  • Status updates: 63,206-character maximum | Ideal length is 40 characters
  • Video: 120-minute maximum | Ideal length is two minutes

Status Updates

Facebook’s character limit on status updates is 63,206. However, that’s far from ideal, says HubSpot Social Media Marketing Manager Chelsea Hunersen. “The social gurus will throw around the number 40 characters. That data seems to be backed up by BuzzSumo’s ranking of HubSpot’s own Facebook Page.

But why 40, specifically? “Ideally,” Hunersen says, “you’ll want to use the copy in a status update to provide context for whatever you’re linking to.” That said, she notes, the copy of the status update itself isn’t as important as the copy in the meta title or meta description that gets pulled in when you insert a link into your post. That’s right — social media posts have their own meta data too.

“Often, people look at the image of the article and then directly down at the meta title and meta description for context clues,” she explains. “A lot of people don’t realize you can change those.”

Even on Facebook, it’s still best to keep your meta title to fewer than 60 characters, and to 155 for meta descriptions. There are some resources available to those familiar with coding that let you play around with social media metadata character counts, like these templates. But unless you’re a developer, we recommend keeping it short and sweet.

Video

While Facebook allows a maximum of 120 minutes for videos, we wouldn’t advise posting anything that long, unless you’re doing a special, social-media-only screening of a full-length film.

According to research conducted by Wistia, two minutes is the “sweet spot” — even a minute longer than that shows a significant drop in viewership. “Engagement is steady up to [two] minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video, the research reads,” so “if you’re making short videos, you don’t need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under [two] minutes.”

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Source: Wistia

However, optimal length can vary depending on the topic. “If you produce something as catchy as BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are putting out there, it can be up to five minutes long,” says Hunersen.

Regardless of the length of your video, Hunersen reminds us that all Facebook videos start without sound, meaning users have to make a conscious decision to stop scrolling through their feeds and unmute the video. Facebook videos should be visually compelling from the get-to, make sense without sound, and be engaging enough to encourage the user to stop and watch.

3) Twitter

Quick reference:

  • Tweets: 140-character maximum
    • Does not include images, videos, polls, or quotes tweets
    • Ideal length is 120-130 characters
  • Hashtags: No more than two
  • Videos: Maximum length is two minutes and 20 seconds

Length of Tweets

Marketers everywhere rejoiced when Twitter finally eased up on its character count parameters, and such media as images, videos, and polls, as well as quoted tweets, ceased counting toward its 140-character limit.

Still, the “Quote Tweet” feature remains available, providing even greater character-saving measures. That happens when you press the rotating arrow icon to retweet a post, and then add a comment in the text box provided. You’ve still got 140 characters all to yourself to comment.

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Ideal Length Overall

Like so much of what we’ve covered, it seems that when it comes to the overall length of a tweet, aim for short and sweet. (See what we did there?) That’s resonated in research conducted by social media scientist Dan Zarrella, who found that tweets with 120-130 characters showed the highest click-through rate (CTR):

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Source: Buffer

The same goes for hashtags. While they can technically be any length up to 140 characters, remember that people will want to accompany the hashtag with other copy. Short hashtags are always better. Ideally, your hashtags should be under 11 characters — shorter if you can.

Also, in a single tweet, stick to one or two hashtags, and definitely don’t go over three. Buddy Media found that all tweets with hashtags get double the engagement metrics than tweets without any. But tweets that kept the hashtags to a minimum — one or two — have a 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more.

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Source: Buffer

Videos

You can post a video on Twitter by importing a video or recording it using the Twitter app. In any case, the maximum video length is two minutes and 20 seconds.

4) LinkedIn

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Profiles

Here’s a handy list of some of LinkedIn’s most important profile character maximums, according to Andy Foote:

  • Professional headline: 120
  • Summary: 2,000
  • Position title: 100
  • Position description: 2,000 (200 character minimum)
  • Status Update: 600 characters — however, Foote also notes that, “if you select to also post on Twitter from LinkedIn, only the first 140 characters will show on your Twitter post.”

Original Content

With LinkedIn’s publishing platform, users can now compose and share original written content with their networks, or publicly. Of course, that comes with its own character counts, according to Foote:

  • Post headline: 100
  • Post body: 40,000

5) Instagram

Quick reference:

  • Bio: 150-character maximum
  • Hashtags: Maximum of 30
  • Captions: Ideal length is under 125 characters

Since Instagram is, first and foremost, a platform for sharing photos and videos, the primary focus is typically your visual content. However, it’s always helpful to provide some context, and let users know what they’re looking at.

Given that, here are some helpful character counts for the text you include with your visual content:

Captions

While Instagram doesn’t seem to specify a maximum total number of caption characters, it does note that, within users’ feeds, the caption is cut off after the first three lines. For that reason, it’s advised to limit captions to 125 characters. However, don’t leave out important information just for the sake of keeping your entire caption visible. Instead, frontload it with crucial details and calls-to-action, leaving any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.

As for Instagram Stories, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of detail on character limits there, either. However, because the text overlays the visual content — which is the focus — don’t obscure too much of the photo or video with a caption.

6) Snapchat

Quick reference:

  • Character limit: 80 per post

Speaking of not obscuring visual content — that brings us to Snapchat.

Instagram Stories was, many believe, an effort to emulate the features of Snapchat, to create an opportunity for users to share quickly-disappearing photos and videos. And again, because the focus here is on the visual, you’ll want to prevent distracting viewers from it with too much text.

According to Teen Vogue, Snapchat’s character limit is 80 per post, which is more than double its previous 31-character limit. And, if you’re looking for more guidance, just look to this particular app’s name, and remember the “snap” element of it — a word that implies brevity — and try not to ramble. Here’s a great example of how SXSW uses its captions efficiently:

7) YouTube

Here we have yet another network that’s focused on visual content, leading some to incorrectly assume that accompanying text — like titles and descriptions — don’t matter as much.

That’s not entirely false — as a video-hosting platform, YouTube should primarily be used to showcase a brand’s quality videos. However, like any other visual content, it needs context. People need to know what they’re watching, who it’s from, and why it matters.

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t appear to provide any specific parameters over its character counts — except for your channel description, which according to the official help site is limited to 1,000 characters. But other than that, it seems that the only guideline available is the alert display that lets you know, “Your [title or description] is too long,” if you’ve entered too much text in either of those fields.

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In this case, we would advise taking the same approach as adding text to support your visuals on Instagram and Snapchat. Like the former, a video’s description is cut off after the first line or two, so frontload the most important descriptors and CTAs, leaving extra details for the end.

Show Your Character

As you set out to determine the length of your text, regardless of the platform, remember to do so with the user in mind. Many of these channel-mandated character limits are established for that reason — to keep audiences from getting bored or overwhelmed.

Like anything else in marketing, however, it’s never an exact science, despite the best data. We encourage you to follow these guidelines, but don’t be afraid to experiment if they don’t always work. Test different amounts of text within your various channels, and keep track of how each post performs. From there, you can make decisions about which types of content, as well as its accompanying titles and descriptions, are the most well-received from your audience.

How do you approach text with different online channels? Let us know in the comments.

This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free social media content calendar template


Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can't Resist

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It’s one thing to write great content, but it’s another thing to get it read and ranked — which is where nailing the title comes in.

Titles are what sell the content. They represent it in search engines, in email, and on social media. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the most common questions we get concern crafting titles.Download this free report to get even more data-backed tips on writing catchy  titles and headlines. 

How long should my headline be? What words should I use? What words should I avoid? Should I optimize it for search, or for social? Or both?

Luckily, we’ve come up with a simple formula for writing catchy headlines and blog titles that you can reference from here on out. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

A Foolproof Method for How to Write Catchy Headlines and Titles

1) Start with a working title.

Before you get into the nitty-gritty of coming up with a perfect title, start with a rough draft: your working title. What is that, exactly? A lot of people confuse working titles with topics. Let’s clear that up:

Topics are very general and could yield several different blog posts. Think “raising healthy kids,” or “kitchen storage.” A writer might look at either of those topics and choose to take them in very, very different directions.

A working title, on the other hand, is very specific and guides the creation of a single blog post. For example, from the topic “raising healthy kids,” you could derive the following working titles:

  • “How the Right Nutrition Can Strengthen Your Kids’ Bones”
  • “A Parent’s Guide to Promoting Your Child’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being”
  • “X Recipes for Quick & Healthy Dinners Your Teenagers Will Gobble Up”

See how different and specific each of those is? That’s what makes them working titles, instead of overarching topics. It’s also worth noting that none of those titles are perfect — they should just be specific enough to guide your blog post. (We’ll worry about making it clickable and search-friendly later.)

2) Stay accurate.

Accuracy is critical when trying to finesse a title, because it sets clear expectations for your readers. While I’m sure lots of people would love to click into a post that said “10 B2B Companies Killing Facebook So Freaking Hard They Don’t Need Any Other Marketing Channel” … it’s a little bombastic, no?

Unless, of course, you truly did find 10 B2B companies rocking Facebook that hard, and you could confirm that all 10 of them had stopped using other marketing channels. First and foremost, your title needs to accurately reflect the content that follows.

One way to ensure accuracy? Add bracketed clarification to your headline, like we did in this blog post:

bracketed-title-example-soph.png

In a study of over 3.3 million paid link headlines, we found that headlines with this type of clarification — [Interview], [Podcast], [Infographic], etc. — performed 38% better than headlines without clarification. Again, it’s all about setting clear expectations. Thanks to the brackets, these readers knew exactly what they were getting themselves into before they even clicked.

So if you remember nothing else from this blog post, let it be this: The most important rule of titles is to respect the reader experience. If you set high expectations in your title that you can’t fulfill in the content, you’ll lose readers’ trust.

Accuracy encompasses more than just hyperbole, though. With the example working title above, you’d also want to confirm all of the examples are, indeed, B2B. Or even that they’re all companies — instead of, say, individual bloggers that target B2B audiences. See what I mean?

3) Make it sexy.

Just because you have to be accurate doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make your title pop. There are a lot of ways to make a title sexier.

Of course, all of this hinges on understanding your core buyer persona. You need to find language that resonates with them, and know what they find valuable. (Haven’t created or refined your buyer personas yet? Download this free template to create your own buyer personas for your business.)

Once you’re armed with knowledge of your buyer persona’s preferred style, try testing out some of these tips for making your headlines a little sexier:

  • Have some fun with alliteration. The title and header in this blog post, for instance, play with alliteration: “Foolproof Formula.” It’s a device that makes something a little lovelier to read, and that can have a subtle but strong impact on your reader.
  • Use strong language. Strong phrases (and, frankly, often negative ones) like “Things People Hate,” or “Brilliant” pack quite a punch. However, these must be used in moderation. As one of my coworkers likes to say, “If everything is bold, nothing is bold.”
  • Make the value clear. As we mentioned above, presenting the format and/or contents to a reader helps make your content a little sexier. According to our research, templates tend to be particularly powerful for CTR: We found that adding “[Template]” to our titles got the most average views of all bracketed terms.
  • Make it visual. Is there an opportunity to include visuals within your post? Make that clear in the title. Our research revealed that headlines featuring the word “photo(s)” performed 37% better than headlines without this word.
  • Focus on the “whos,” not the “whys”. Want to intrigue your audience? Focus on the “who”: Headlines including the word “who” generated a 22% higher CTR than headlines without it.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a post titled, “15 of Our Favorite Brands on Snapchat.” How might we punch up our accurate-but-boring working title? Here are some options:

  • 15 Brilliant Brands Who Are Killing It on Snapchat
  • Snapchat Success: 15 Inspiring Brands Who Just Get It
  • 15 Must-Follow Brands That Are Seeing Snapchat Success

4) Keep it short.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long or short your title should be. It depends what your goals are, and where your headline will appear.

Do you want this post to rank really well in search? Focus on keeping the title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.

Are you trying to optimize your title for social sharing? According to our own analysis at HubSpot, headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average. As for Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words received the most Likes.

headline-length-vs-social-shares-2.png

Additionally, headlines with eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title, according to the folks at Outbrain.

The lesson? It’s always a good idea to run a few tests to see what works best for your particular audience.

Let’s say I was writing this blog post: “Think Social Media Is Just for Kids? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong.” To shorten it, I would simply try to rephrase it and cut out extraneous words. For instance, I might do something like this:

  • Before: Think Social Media Is Just for Kids? Here Are 10 Statistics Guaranteed to Prove You Wrong
  • After: 10 Stats That Prove Social Media Isn’t Just for Kids

See? It’s that easy. Try sounding out the title in your head to make sure it’s easily digestible for your readers. The less of a mouthful you can make your titles, the better.

5) Try to optimize for search and social.

I say “try” because, sometimes, trying too hard to optimize for these things can make your title sound strange. Remember: You want to optimize your title for your audience above all else, but if you can optimize for both search and social, that’s great.

The secret to thinking about all three at once? Focus on keywords that you know your audience is already searching for, then look into the search volume for those keywords.

Once you have a keyword in mind, you’ll want to be sure to place it as closely as possible to the beginning of your headline to catch your reader’s attention. (Again, you should keep your headline under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results.)

Another important consideration? Make sure your headlines are tweetable: “The 120-130-character range is the sweet spot for high clickthrough rate, according to an analysis of 200,000 tweets with links,” explains my colleague, Senior Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich. “This leaves enough space for people to include a short comment if they choose to manually retweet and cite you.” 

Here’s an example: Let’s say I’m writing a post titled, “X B2B Companies Using Facebook in Cool Ways.” Looks like there’s some wiggle room to optimize it without compromising clarity, right?

If the goal is to rank for the term, “Facebook Marketing,” I’d recommend something like this:

“New to Facebook Marketing? Here Are 10 B2B Companies Doing It Right”

This new title works for a few reasons:

  • It’s 56 characters long. This means that it’s short enough to not be cut off in search engines and it’s short enough to be retweeted.
  • The keyword is in the beginning. By moving “Facebook Marketing” to the beginning of the title, we’re ultimately increasing the odds that we’ll grab our audience’s attention.
  • It’s human. I wasn’t kidding when I said you should focus on optimizing for your audience first. This title presents both a pain point and a solution all wrapped up in one.

(Download this ebook for more data-backed SEO strategies we recommend.)

6) Brainstorm with someone else.

Once you’ve refined your title using the tips above, it’s time to come up for air and connect with another human. Title brainstorming is an essential part of the process.

Here at HubSpot, we spend a decent amount of time and brainpower coming up with our titles. The final step before scheduling a blog post is pulling another member of our team into a back-and-forth title brainstorm in a chat room. One member of the duo will post the title they recommend into the chat pane window. The other person will then refine that title even further, or suggest other angles. After several back-and-forths, the duo will agree on the title that’s accurate, sexy, concise, and SEO-friendly.

Only when both parties agree on a title do we schedule our post for publishing — which can take as little as five seconds and as long as ten or so minutes. While that seems like a long time, it’s essential to put our best feet forward with each post we publish.

What’s your process for crafting titles? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Source: How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can't Resist
blog.hubspot.com/marketing