We are often asked to share our knowledge of best practices in email subject lines, layouts, social media posts, ads, brochures and more.

7 minutesMore often than not, we end up with too much copy. Why? Maybe people are afraid of white space or feel they need to promote everything at every opportunity.

My advice? Go against your natural instincts. Brevity and relevance are keys to success. Onsite materials  and web sites are where you want to post all the information anyone needs. Most everything else should have a targeted purpose. Be brief. Be amazing. Stand out in the noisy market by lowering your volume…of words that is.

Here’s the quick and dirty low-down. By the way, the statistics I’m quoting  came from a Fast Company article.

Ads: Think Billboard

Ads should have catchy headlines with calls to action and lots of white space or photos and graphics. Think of an ad like a billboard. Do you think someone riding in a car, speeding down a highway will read a paragraph of details on a billboard they see for a half a second? As your prospects and members cruise through a magazine, they act the same way as that driver.

Facebook Posts: Novelists Stay Home

A new study reveals the best length for a post is.

That last sentence is not an error. The answer is 40 characters. I ran out of room and wanted to make a point. It was interesting, yes?

Short, interesting, fun, informative. Make it so and you’ll engage your audience. (That was little call out to Star Trek in case you aren’t a sci-fi geek like me.) If you must use more space, then max out at 80 characters and you’ll probably receive 66% higher engagement from your audience.

Tweets: 100-Yard Dash

The best length for a tweet is 100 characters. You have 140 characters but it’s best to quit while you’re ahead, eh?

Headlines: Scan, Rinse, Don’t Repeat

I often see long descriptive headlines from people who want to make sure their entire story is told right up front. Here’s a better idea…grab a word-smith to help keep your headlines to six words or less if you can. Make sure every word counts. Make it memorable or interesting so it will engage your reader to keep reading, which is the entire point.

This goes for session title names as well. Do your conferences have breakout sessions with titles that continue on and on?

Put some thought into those headlines—just as you would an email subject line.

Blogs: Seven Minutes in Heaven

Did you play the “seven minutes in Heaven” game when you were a kid? It seems to be the right amount of time to smooch with your cute 13-year-old crush (that is if you’re also 13). It’s also the right amount of time for reading blogs. I would also recommend using photos and video in your posts (in tweets and facebook as well). If you do that, the word count comes down from 1,600 to more like 1,000 words.

This blog post is much less than that, but since we are promoting brevity, I’ll end it here. With a fun photo, of course.

P.S. Copywriting does not need to follow strict rules you would use in say an academic paper. Put down your copy of Strunk and White and relax. Clean up your typos and use basic rules of grammar so the reader can understand you, but don’t be afraid to end a sentence with a preposition or use slang once and awhile.