As content creators, it’s our job to create content so good that it stops our audience mid-scroll and forces them to pay attention.

According to SocialPilot, people check Facebook eight times a day on average, and around 40% of LinkedIn users use the platform daily. Each time users check their social media there’s new content  for them to scroll through. On Twitter alone, it’s been reported there are approximately 500 million tweets sent every day.

This constant stream of new content on social media makes it harder for marketers to stand out from the crowd and grab their audience’s attention.

At times, trying to grab your audience’s attention on social media feels like trying to flag down your friend at a crowded venue by waving your arms around like a maniac.

Because it’s difficult to get people’s attention on social media, it’s easy to blame the lack of engagement your posts receive on today’s technology shortening people’s attention spans. But, in reality, people’s attention spans aren’t shortening; the selection for them to decide what to give their attention to is forever growing.

If you want to grab your audience’s attention on social media, you first need to understand how their attention system works. Then, apply that to your social media marketing strategy.

What We Know about Attention

Attention has been studied for years. Many theories have been made about how our attention system works. There are some components that are well understood, while other aspects are still a mystery. We do know that attention is concentrated focus that is affected by the two factors listed below.

Attention Is Limited

We cannot focus on something indefinitely, and we aren’t that good at multitasking. Our attention has a certain capacity that’s limited by how many things we can attend to and for how long.

Although our attention is limited, we still have the capacity to pay attention to things that interest us, barring there aren’t too many distractions around. So don’t throw out your long-form content in exchange for only snack-sized content because your audience’s attention is limited.

If the long-form content is interesting and of high-quality people will decide to focus on it.

Attention Is Selective

Because our attention is limited, we have to be selective with what we focus on. Once we choose something is important enough to pay attention to, our mind has to constantly filter out all of the other distractions and background noise.

This can be seen if you work in an open space environment like me. There’s constant chatter and keyboard clicking happening at all times. Despite that, you still find a way to pay attention to your computer and work, while ignoring everything else.

How to Grab Their Attention

Time is of the essence. While your target audience is scrolling through their social media feed, you only have a second to steal their attention and convince them to focus on your content.

Write to Your Audience’s Interest

Your social content is only as good as the content you create for your company. Because our  attention is selective, the content you create and promote on social media needs to be relevant enough to your audience to stop them from scrolling past it.

If your blog posts, eBooks, or webinars aren’t what your audience wants to invest time into, then you need to reflect on the content you’re creating.

Creating relevant and interesting content requires research and persona building. In Ryan Bozeman’s latest blog post on the Marketeer, he said, “Building personas don’t have to be a mysterious process. If you want to know what your customers are thinking, just ask.”

Once you better understand what your audience wants to read and learn about, then you need to work on promoting it on social.

Get Visual

Using images, infographics, and other visuals are key to grabbing people’s attention on social media. Overall, visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. LinkedIn posts with images receive 200% more engagement than text-only posts. Also, on Twitter, tweets with images are 150% more likely to get retweets than text-only tweets.

When posting on social it’s important to choose striking photos to convince people that your content is worth giving their time to. You can find beautiful stock images on a number of sites to use, or you can create your own images easily on a site like Canva.

Use Video

Video content is dominating social media right now. 100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook daily. LinkedIn stated that video content shared by Company Pages are five times more likely than other types of content to start a conversation among members.

Video content is predicted to only get more and more popular over the next few years. So, if you haven’t yet, it’s time to hop aboard the video train.

When creating videos for social media, keep in mind that the majority of people watch it with their sound off. To keep the attention of those who don’t have their sound on, add captions or tell a story that’s clear even without sound, like a 1920s-era silent movie.

If you want to learn more about the different types of videos you can make and how to connect them to your buyer’s journey, check out this post by Victor Blasco.

Post at the Right Time

The goal is to post your content when the highest amount of your followers are online and ready to engage. To be honest, there’s no straightforward answer to when the perfect time to post is for you. I can’t just say 2 p.m. on Wednesdays is the best time to post.

It all depends on the social media platform, your industry, and your audience. Sprout Social conducted research on the best time to post for different platforms and different industries.

If you have a social media management tool, look back at your own data to find what times you received the highest amount of engagement. Another strategy could be experimenting with your social media management’s auto-schedule feature.

Data to Track Attention

After you experiment with attention-grabbing techniques on social media, you’ll need to know if it worked or not. To determine the success of your efforts you will need to look at the data.

The data you should track and refer back to depend on the type of content you posted. For a graphic you made to promote your latest eBook, don’t track just social engagement for the post—also track the download rate from social. For video content, track how long viewers watch and engagement rates over the course of the video. The longer people watched your content shows how long you kept their attention.

If you’re adding images to your social posts that direct people to your recent blog posts, you can track the click rate, bounce rate, and time on page. This will help determine if you gained more attention by adding images.

For example, when we track data for our blogs, we use Google Tag Manager to see how far people made it through our posts. So, making it this far on a blog would tell us that we did our job at keeping your attention.

Now apply these ideas to your social media marketing strategy.

Jessica Peppard

About Jessica Peppard

Jessica is the digital marketing associate at Kapost. Her background is in psychology and media studies, which she applies to the content she creates and distributes. Outside of sharing all things content operations, she enjoys playing fetch with her pup Alpine, hiking in the Rockies, and eating her weight in desserts.