July 25, 2014

Study Asks: 'Are You Smarter than the Average Facebook User?'

Most of us are familiar with game show titled, “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” Based on the findings of a new study commissioned by data intelligence firm TrackMaven, that question should rather be: “Are you smarter than the average Facebook user?”

The results, based on over 1.5 million Facebook posts, reveal that the majority (67.3 percent) of posts are written at a reading level of fifth grade or lower. In fact, out of the majority, nearly 20 percent of Facebook posts were written at a first grade reading level—a grade where most children are just starting to master the basics of the English language.

Conversely, only 2.5 percent of study participants wrote posts at an “above college” reading level.

These findings may seem comical and perhaps up for debate (after all, Facebook is used to communicate quickly more so than coherently), but it provides further insight into the importance of content creation for social media. Let’s explore some best practices to keep in mind when posting:

Keep posts short and sweet: The majority of average Facebook posts are not only written at a low reading level—they also have low word counts. The vast majority (93 percent) of posts had word counts of less than 50 words, while 57 percent had less than 19 words. Keep in mind that the average social media user has a short attention span. Therefore, keep your posts short, sweet and concise so that it keeps the reader’s attention (which research continues to show is dwindling) and will leave them wanting to know more.

Post during the week: Social media posting for customer engagement can be related to fishing; you cast a line out into a big open sea and hope you’ll get a bite—or at the very least a nibble. But you can’t expect to reel in something big when you cast your line into shallow waters. Similarly, you can’t expect your brilliant Facebook post to be read, shared and or liked if it is posted on a day that is not as occupied by users. The study’s findings show that the most popular days for posting on Facebook include Thursday, Wednesday and Tuesday.

Expect engagement on the weekend: Just as we tend to personally engage with others most during the weekend—brunch, errands, date nights—we like to engage with brands on Facebook during the last two days of the week. While it may be best to post during the week, it is likely that customers will go back and engage directly with those posts once they have some time to settle down on the weekends. The study’s findings reveal that although the average number of interactions was “fairly consistent” during the week, they peaked on Sundays at an average 2.7 interactions per post.

So ask yourself: Are you smarter than the average Facebook user? As a content marketer, the answer is that you have to be. Keep this in mind when strategizing for content creation.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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