Social media newsfeeds, not only on Facebook but on the majority of mainstream social media platforms, move at lightning speed. In fact, the average person scrolls through 300 feet of content on Facebook every day – that’s very nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty!

At Social Media Week London this year Kat Hahn, Facebook’s Head of Creative Shop, Northern Europe, spoke about how businesses can create content that works in such a fast-paced, mobile environment.

Kat Hahn shared some fantastic examples of content that has achieved this, but it was very much focused on big brands with substantial budgets for content creation. For smaller businesses, the challenge is harder still – though not impossible – and this blog is for you.

I’m going to share with you the key takeaways from Social Media Week London and give you some ideas of how you might apply those to your own business.

How are people consuming content on social media?

The first and foremost thing that we need to understand is how people are consuming content on Facebook. We know that they are scrolling through a huge amount of newsfeed, but what makes their thumb stop and why?

According to Facebook’s theory, people are in one of three modes when they are flicking through their feed:

  1. On the go – 70% of the time this is the mode that people are in; they’re quickly checking the app whilst waiting for a bus or for the kettle to boil.  You could say that they’re relatively passive, they’re not looking for anything in particular and they don’t have much time to spend.1. On the go – 70% of the time this is the mode that people are in; they’re quickly checking the app whilst waiting for a bus or for the kettle to boil.  You could say that they’re relatively passive, they’re not looking for anything in particular and they don’t have much time to spend.
  2. Lean forward – 20% of the time people are in this mode.  They’re looking for something to watch, read or listen to and if something captures their attention then they’ll be willing to spend a little longer there.
  3. Lean back – only 10% of the time are people in lean back mode, where they’re sitting down and looking to spend a longer amount of time-consuming content.

So even if your post gets served up to someone in the newsfeed, you then face the challenge of standing out and thumb-stopping in a place where 70% of the time users are scrolling on the go.

Capture the attention of your audience

“There is no such thing as a captive audience – you can buy eyeballs, but you can’t buy attention.” Kat Hahn, Social Media Week London 2017

It all comes down to content!

Even if you were to spend a great deal of money on Facebook Advertising, all that you would be buying are eyes on your posts. If the content itself isn’t captivating then, no matter how much you’ve spent, you won’t gain your audience’s attention.

Your starting point should always be to consider what value your content brings to your followers – it should be useful, informative and entertaining.

The next step is to consider how you’re going to present and deliver that content, and this is where those three “modes” come in.

If 70% of the time your followers are on the go, then the majority of your content needs to be short and snackable

We’re talking a matter of seconds here so it really does take some creative thinking. Start by taking a look at the content you already have – use this as your starting point and think about how you could tell that story or share that message in the shortest time possible. A video is a fantastic medium for this, but text and images can work as well.

Next, consider how this could be adapted for “lean forward” content. In other words, if you’ve captured someone’s attention and they have a little bit longer to consume your content how could you add value? This isn’t about taking more time or space in your post just for the sake of it. Rather, consider how you can draw that person into the experience by allowing them to interact in some way.

Make people want to come back for more

Sometimes you will catch people in “lean back” mode but wouldn’t it be even better if people were to seek your content out when they had that time to lean back and enjoy?

This is where true value lies in getting your short and snappy content right. If you can capture people’s attention and leave a memorable impression in a matter of seconds, then they are going to be more likely to seek you out when they have time to spare.

Taking that same story or message you shared in short-form, think about how you could make that content immersive and worthy of people spending the time to consume.

The final takeaway

If you are already creating content, then you are primed to take this next step to get more eyes and more attention to your posts. It isn’t about reinventing the wheel. You have the content, now it’s time to find creative ways to embrace different formats and capture your audience no matter what mode they are in.

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