Turns out that people can remember social content better than a CNN headline, a sentence randomly selected from a book, or even than a human face. Psychology researchers published a fascinating paper back in January that showed through a series of experiments that Facebook posts — chosen with a range of emotions and writing styles — are extraordinarily memorable. But why?
A few reasons: the text is designed to be complete (unlike a sentence from a book); gossipy/entertainment content is inherently more memorable than straight news; and casually generated language, however “vacuous, narcissistic, or vapid” is apparently more memorable. This last reason is intriguing — the idea that copy created off the top of one’s head is somehow more “mind-ready” for the recipient to absorb and retain. No wonder no one can ever remember a corporate mission statement.
Research by Bryden, Funk, and Jansen looks at word usage in Twitter, and finds that communities can be characterized by their word choice. Even better, the words used by an individual can accurately predict the community that user belongs to.
We all speak in our own workplace jargon and the acronym-laden tech community, myself included, is more guilty of this than most. This study reminds us that words are about more than information transfer—they also serve as tribal identification. The words we choose to use on a public social network are a way of signaling the community we belong to as much as the suit or T-shirt and jeans we choose to wear to work each day.
Many commented on a recent Pew report finding that 61% of all Facebook users admitted to taking a break from the popular and addictive social networking site at some time in the past. Reasons included everything from avoiding too much drama and gossip to fasting or observing Lent. The chart below from the same report caught my attention:
According to Pew, 1% or fewer of 18-29 year olds see themselves spending more time on Facebook in the coming year. Is this accurately depicting a trend borne of the frustration with issues like privacy concerns and monetization plans (like dreaded autoplay video in the news feed) for the site? Or is it, like the 2010 media hype over the anti-Facebook Diaspora project, more wishful thinking about the behavior we would like to show versus what is likely? Either way, the prediction of declining usage by age above tells a story.
How is the digital explosion affecting arts organizations? Last week, a Pew Internet report revealed the current digital focus of arts orgs, and what they identify as emerging opportunities and costs. Unsurprisingly, 99% have a web presence and many struggle with the time and expertise cost of social media. A few other findings that leapt out:
- a full 97% have a presence on social networks and 45% post at least once a day
- the “brand champion” strategy of having patrons help manage negative comments on social media is working for many
- widely varied audience use cases (e.g., older/younger patrons divide on social media) creates need to support traditional alongside new media outreach
- 20% have reprimanded employees over content shared online, which speaks to tensions between employees’ right to freedom of expression and the organizational needs for confidentiality and appropriate, public behavior (if this isa tension in publicly-funded arts orgs, what does this look like for banking?)
One opportunity that stood out was the sizeable gap between adoption of websites (99%) and social presences (97%) and that of mobile apps (24%).
Certainly, not every arts org needs a native application, but if I were working on a low-cost SaaS mobile solution with ecommerce baked in, arts organizations would be on my target list.