Do you recall Facebook posts faster than facts?

For many people, scrolling through social media is a somewhat mindless task. A breaking news story or two, a couple of cat videos, and a stab of food envy over someone’s incredible looking dinner and you’re done, and will probably never think about most of the statuses, tweets or pictures you just saw again…right?

Well, actually, wrong, because a new study from the University of California San Diego has shown that content that you read on Facebook may actually be easier to recall than information that you’ve seen in print – and that social media fodder may even be easier to remember than a particular person’s face.

The findings

The research, which was published in January’s Memory and Cognition journal, involved three experiments, centred on the use of emoticons, variations in character size and emotional content to measure the impact of this colloquial style of content on recall ability. The Facebook posts were totally removed from their original context and presented separately from any associated images, but participants still remembered them one and half times better than edited sentences from books.

Laura Mickes, the lead author of the study, said that the findings went against everything that the researchers expected.

“To our surprise the microblogs, the Facebook posts, are much more memorable than one would expect,” she commented. “People mostly think they’re mundane and would be easily forgotten.”

However, the results proved this supposition wrong, and Mickes stated that “these kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory”, going as far as to compare the recall ability differentiation with a condition as extreme as memory loss.

So what does this mean for my brand?

Because this study was fairly small, with a limited sample of just 32 participants, further research is necessary to determine whether the findings can be applied to the broader general public. However, there are still some lessons to be learned for businesses when it comes to writing content of their own – whether it’s for social media or any other area.

Mickes concluded: “The fact that posts were so memorable suggests that they resonate with the recipients.” This means that companies need to find out what kind of content their audience relate to and appreciate, and focus their efforts of making sure that all aspects of their content marketing strategy reflect this. Whether its colloquial language, simpler syntax or simply the occasional laugh in place of the usual stoic corporate speak, your customers will respond if you take the time and effort to adapt to their preferences.

After all, if the results of the study are applicable to the population at large, investing time and effort into finding relevant, engaging content means there’s a much higher chance of your target audience liking, remembering and recommending your brand – and isn’t that the ultimate goal of any business anyway?

Will you be rethinking your content marketing approach in line with Mickes’ findings? Leave us a comment or tweet @writemysite and let us know!