Skip to main content

To Make Your Cause's Facebook Updates Unforgettable Use Conversational Language

A recent study finds that your Facebook posts are more memorable than individual sentences from books, or even human faces. One possible reason is that people remember Facebook posts is that they're more like dialogue and less like dry prose.

The paper published in the January 2013 issue of Memory and Cognition and called Major Memories for Microblogs and it details several experiments involving how well people remember Facebook posts.

The paper’s authors were Laura Mickes, Ryan S. Darby, Vivian Hwe, Daniel Bajic, Christine R. Harris, Nicholas J. S. Christenfeld of the University of California at San Diego, and Jill A Warker of the University of Scranton. Professor Mickes has a new appointment at the University of Warwick in Coventry.

In the first, they tested for how well people remembered the status updates of strangers in Facebook. Study subjects were randomly assigned to see on a screen either Facebook posts or sentences from books for a brief flash. Immediately after they were asked to take a test wherein the posts or sentences were replayed along with 100 ‘lures’ and rate how sure they were that they had seen either the posts or the book sentences. Recall of the Facebook posts was 85 percent while recall for the sentences was 76 percent.

In the second experiment, a fresh set of Facebook posts were compared against the frontal views of 200 neutral faces selected from a government database. (Creepy that the government has a database of faces, right?) As before, the study subjects were randomly assigned to either see flashes of faces or flashes of Facebook posts. And, as before, they immediately took a recall test. And, as before, the subjects’ memory for Facebook posts was higher than for faces.

But maybe the Facebook posts were better remembered because they were a more coherent whole than just sentences snipped from books. Or, maybe the subjects who saw the Facebook posts were encoding the posts at a deeper level than those who got sentences. Mickes et al tested both hypotheses in different but related experiments and found that neither coherence nor deeper encoding accounted for the difference.

Instead, Mickes et al hypothesize that it may the informality of the language in Facebook that accounts for difference.
“These especially memorable Facebook posts and reader comments, generated by ordinary people, may be far closer than professionally crafted sentences to tapping into the basic language capacities of our minds. Perhaps the very sentences that are so effortlessly generated are, for that reason, the same ones that are readily remembered. Some sentences—and, most likely, those without careful editing, polishing, and perfecting—are naturally more ‘mind-ready.’”
In this interpretation, Facebook posts are like the lines of dialogue from the 1987 movie The Princess Bride (see at left) that countless 40-somethings have rattling around in their heads. While the more formal language of books is like every magazine or newspaper story that they’ve read since 1987…mostly forgotten.

Before you change everything in your social media strategy, bear in mind that all these experiments were conducted on 20-year-old college kids. If that doesn't describe your audience, your mileage may vary.


Popular posts from this blog

Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

You’d have had to have been in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the last year or so to have missed the run up of microfinance. Between 2004 and 2006 more than $4 billion of capital flowed into microfinance institutions. All told experts say the total loan microfinance loan portfolio may be as much as $12.5 billion. And of course the father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Microfinance is now so respectable, so effective, (so profitable!) that it’s already enjoying its first global backlash.

Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
Now Advanta, a credit card issuer to small…

Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …