Writing a memorable social media post: finding your inner cave(wo)man

Jan 22

If you’ve written posts for client’s social media profile, chances are you’ve seen those posts go through several rounds of review until they are polished to a squeaky-clean, error-free shine. But recent research suggests that this extensive editing might not be the best way to go about drafting social media posts—at least if you want them to be remembered. The research, written about in PsychCentral, found that people will remember a Facebook post longer than a person’s face or a sentence from a book, purportedly because Facebook posts are typically “spontaneous, unedited and closer to natural speech.”

Researchers out of the University of Warwick and the University of California – San Diego found subjects’ memory for Facebook posts was one and a half times greater than their memory for sentences picked at random from books and almost two and a half times greater than for human faces. According to lead author Laura Mickes, “These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory.”

While part of this enhanced memory for Facebook posts may be attributable to the distinct and gossipy nature of the posts, researchers believe that our superior memory for Facebook posts has more to do with their “mind-ready” format, the fact that they are closer to speech patterns used during the majority of human evolutionary history. They contend that our linguistic capabilities developed long before the carefully edited writing of relatively recent times, and that our brains did not evolve to process such polished text.

“Our findings might not seem so surprising when one considers how important both memory and the social world have been for survival over humans’ ancestral history,” explains Professor Christine Harris. “We learn about rewards and threats from others. So it makes sense that our minds would be tuned to be particularly attentive to the activities and thoughts of people and to remember the information conveyed by them.”

Sketch of a caveman

Those of us who draft social media posts on behalf of clients often strive to infuse the posts with personality—or what one of my clients likes to call “pizzazz.” But it might be that “pizzazz” alone is not sufficient to make the posts stick in the memories of our readers. Perhaps we need to allow a certain amount of informality to our posts, even leave in… (gasp!)… a grammatical error here and there. Maybe in order for our posts to fully resonate, we need to reach back to the pre-literate roots of our human psyche… to embrace our inner cave(wo)man.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 at 12:09 pm and is filed under Social Marketing, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Writing a memorable social media post: finding your inner cave(wo)man”

  1. Great points, Jenna! I often find myself pushing the limits of what are “acceptable” abbreviations/grammatical errors for my clients (in an effort to save characters). This is certainly something to consider!