How would you like to read the minds of your Facebook-followers?

Anders Colding, Behavioral Psychologist @ Mindhouse
19 maj 2017

The question is not as crazy as you may think. Most people actually react in the exact same psychological way, when they see a post on Facebook.

Let me tell you how that works:

Imagine this situation: You have just found your seat on the train. You settle in and immediately get out your phone. Aaah – comfort and entertainment. Soon, you are scrolling through your Facebook feed, looking for something that catches your attention. You “like”  and comment on several posts and may even share one or two. But you also ignore lots of posts – or scroll away after having glanced at them for less than a second.

But let me ask you a simple question: Why do you read (and like) some posts, while totally ignoring others?

You may say that it’s because those posts are better. Have better content. Concern more interesting topics. And all that may be true. But let’s be honest. You can’t really judge the quality of all the links and posts and videos you skip, in the average 1½ seconds, you look at them, can you?

So, there must be some other explanation for your choices.

And actually, there is. Some posts simply appeal to your brain and emotions, in a more effective way than others. And that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the contents of the post.

Your attention, emotions and reactions are strongly influenced simply by the way a Facebook-the post is designed and formatted!

This means that many of your “choices” are rather automatic reactions to text and images, than actual conscious choices.

Do you design your posts for maximum attention?

This is not some cheap trick. I don’t use tricks. It is basic psychology. It actually is possible to create psychologically more effective post, if you know how. Simply because our minds react to inputs in a quite predictable way.

Tips! Anders Colding will speak more about this topic at Social Media Markting Day, June 1

Let’s look at that in a Facebook-context

In the first second, after you see a post on Facebook, your brain tries to take you through 3 mental steps. If all 3 steps are completed, the post will spread to another person, who may also complete the 3 steps.

The 3 steps put together, form a loop. I call it “the viral loop”.  

Let me take you through it:

1) Perception:

The first (and most important) step your brain must complete is called “perception”. This is where you stop and look at a post. More precisely, this step is where your attention falls upon a post and you immediately and automatically “get” what it is about. Most mistakes are done here, simple because people fail to use strong eyecathers, because they make the post language too complicated or simply because they assume that people are paying full attention to their posts.

There are so many individual techniques you can use to make your posts harder to ignore and easier to understand. And remember: If people don’t stop at your post – nothing else really matters. 

2) Emotion:

We may not think about it every day, but the Facebook-posts we react to, are the ones that make us feel something. It could be e.g. joy, anger, envy, greed or urgency. You can make your posts more emotionally engaging, simply by using specific cases and examples, narrative stories and text that provokes associations, in your posts. Activating more emotions is not magic. It is psychology and it can both be understood and mastered.

3. Reaction

Reaction comes in many forms. Some reactions are understood only by Facebook’s algorithms (such as expanding the list of comments or turning on audio on a video). Others are visible to other people (such as liking or commenting). But every reaction tells Facebook that more people are interested in a post and Facebook reacts by showing the post to more people. Simply by knowing both how Facebook’s algorithms and people’s social filters work, you can increase the number of people who react to your post.

Don’t expect miracles – expect improvement

Very few people are completely free to post anything they like, on their professional Facebook pages. This means that you can’t just post popular stuff.

Instead, you can learn how to make the messages you need to post, harder to ignore, easier to understand and more emotionally appealing.

If you stopped making the 10 most common mistakes, every time you post on Facebook, it will not create miracles, but it may help you “suck less”.

And that is actually my mission: To help people make the most of the content they need to post on Facebook, by teaching them how the mind works and how to create posts that more minds “like”.

PS: The cat in the top of this article has nothing to do with the contents, but your mind is attracted to eyes and likes to look at furry mammals.

/Anders Colding, Behavioral Psychologist @ Mindhouse

Anders Colding will speak more about "How to suck less on Facebook" - The art of using psychology to craft better Facebook posts at Social Media Marketing Day, June 1 in Stockholm. He will also facilitate a Masterclass the day after. This is what you will learn! Don't miss it!

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