Simple Language Gets Shared More on Facebook

Continuing my series of Facebook data points, this time I looked at the readability of titles and how that was related to the number of times articles were shared on Facebook.

What I found was that as the reading grade level required to understand the title of an article increased, the number of times it was shared on Facebook decreased. The takeaway? Use simple language if you want to get shared on Facebook.

If you’re curious about my methodology, start by reading this page.

If you liked this post, don't forget to subscribe to my RSS feed or my email newsletter so you never miss the science.


Megan Berry April 29, 2010 at 6:35 am

How does this compare to twitter? Is the case that simple language generally gets shared more or that facebook users are especially fond of the simple?

nicolaconnolly April 29, 2010 at 10:36 am

Been checking out your recent research posts – all very interesting, nice work!

I’m intrigued to know how you graded the ‘readability’ in this study? I ask because I wonder if you incorporated whether formal/informal language was used? I imagine that this could well affect the results.

Katie Van Domelen April 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Great article – totally in line with things I've thought but never been able to prove. I'd love to see something on length of Facebook posts v. shareability. Facebook will *allow* 420 characters, but at some point it cuts it off and puts in the “more” link. My thesis is that if the update stays within the 1-3 line range it's more digestible to fans and they're more likely to comment, like or share. But of course brands want their WHOLE message contained in one update so it'd be great to have some data to show why they shouldn't try to do that. Just wondering if it's on your agenda :)

Keep up the great work, this information is so helpful, I really appreciate you publishing it here.

Davezilla April 29, 2010 at 6:06 pm


bkjrecruiter April 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Dan- Hello and thanks… “Use simple language if you want to get shared on Facebook.” We consume some much data, folks want a KISS “keep is simple stupid”… Now that I am a raving customer of Hubspot, I am even more inclined to keep a simple (HUB) approach!

Blessings, Brian-

DanielleKangas April 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I feel the reason is that Facebook has so much going on. When the user scans the news feed, short and sweet will register faster. Any thing that requires too much thought is likely to be missed. The user can, almost by osmosis, be up to speed on today's goings on without reading to deeply in to posts.

Josh Peterson April 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm

I wonder if this is because success in spreading a message on the web (Facebook, specifically) calls for the ability to be concise and simple. Lots of people still treat blogs and the web as an academic forum. While there is a time and place for that, most people don't have the time to sit down and read novels. Facebook is a “social” site and operates much like a giant gathering of friends- corporations and marketers would do well to learn what that means instead of just treating it as a readily available captive audience.

The new marketing campaign for the KIN is a great example of “what to do” I think.

Josh Peterson April 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm

In my opinion, it has everything to do with attention span and what is easily translatable to a user/reader as “interesting.” Short and sweet is always easier.

Maguire09 April 30, 2010 at 3:27 am

Are we really breeding that much ignorance in this country? I hope then, that Facebook might someday become a vehicle to improve language skills.
However, I will stick to the most basic assumption for these statistics and say that it must be due to the average length of posts. People aren't necessarily going onto Facebook to read articles, but rather share glib comments with each other as a way to decompress.

There is an interview series of social media experts discussing a wide range of current social media trends and practices, that you might find very interesting.

Kirsten May 12, 2010 at 6:15 pm

From what I've I've been able to tell, Facebook cuts posts with the “more” link at 320 characters. It also cuts off the title of the link you're posting after 100.

Kirsten May 12, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Interesting stuff. Any idea why there's that drop from 6-8? And what was the average grade level?

david johnston May 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm

So fukkin wot? (This is so I get shared lots, according to the logic)

Jack May 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I agree you Katie that they must try to workout as you said.Everybody wants his message to be updated on a single page.
Facebook is one of the best in social media and they should increase the value of characters.

Rose DesRochers September 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm

This was an interesting find and further goes to prove my opinion regarding writing in a way all can understand.

{ 50 trackbacks }