Grabbing and Keeping the Attention of Your Audience in the Age of Social Media

By Philippe Aussant


We can sometimes take for granted how easily we have been able to obtain information in recent years. I probably would have had a good chuckle if you told me twenty years ago that I would one day have immediate access to a wide array of information by simply using a phone, of all things.

However, numerous technological advancements have enabled us to gain a world of knowledge directly in the palms of our hands. As well, with the advent of social media services, they have brought the world closer together by allowing us to send content around the world in a matter of seconds. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the proportion of online American adults that used a social networking site has skyrocketed from 8% in 2005 to 76% in 2015.

Significant technological advancements, such as the ones mentioned above, can impact our way of life and our daily habits. As this occurs, companies must continuously adjust their approach of getting messages out to their audience.

Essentially, various ways in which companies have had to adjust how they perform media releases since the digitization of media include:


Using Visuals as Attention Grabbers


We have gained the ability to more easily connect with the people and companies that we love, and are now exposed to an increasing amount of content. Our personal social media newsfeeds can be constantly flooded with updates, and it becomes easy for a message to go undetected. Out of the flurry of information we are confronted with, we seek content that is easily digestible and engaging.

As we scan our social media feeds, we are naturally attracted to posts that include visual content. It is unsurprisingly eye-catching, and helps to bring textual content to life.

As our devices have become more powerful over time, their ability to access high-bandwidth content has continuously improved. This has made it easier to upload and share content like videos, which has lead us to watch an increasing amount of video content with these devices over time. According to a study by eMarketer, the average time spent watching video through digital video devices by US adults has increased more than three-fold from 21 minutes in 2011, to 76 minutes in 2015.

Companies are taking advantage of this, and are now more often including a picture or video to accompany their messages to meet these needs. For example, when McDonald’s announced their All Day Breakfast campaign, they released a series of tweets (including this one) on September 1 2015 accompanied by different eye-catching GIFs.

Taking a look at an example from a news provider, a quick scan of the Twitter feed for TSN shows a very low percentage of posts that do not include either a picture or video.  This allows the reader to immediately visualize the nature of the post before deciding to dig deeper.


Using Text as Attention Keepers


While visuals can help to grab our attention, engaging text can help us to retain it.

Social media has built a conversational bridge between companies and their audience, allowing for an easier two-way conversation between the two parties. However, we are more likely to converse with people with whom we share a common interest and that have magnetic personalities. When at a party, are you more likely to speak to someone who keeps giving you one-word answers and shares no common interests with you, or to the person with all the best jokes and shares your rabid love of hockey?

As well, social media has allowed us to more easily share content with our friends and followers with a simple click of the button. However, we are more likely to do so if we feel it is content that is both engaging, and would be beneficial to our friends and followers. Social media has become the ultimate word-of-mouth tool, and companies have been adjusting their media release content to take advantage of this.


Bringing it all together

Technological advancements have led to us being exposed to a significantly greater amount of information on a daily basis. To ensure that their message connects with their audience in this age of social media, companies have had to forge a greater connection with their audience, while releasing content that is both attention grabbing and engaging to the individual reader. Otherwise, they run the chance of seeing their message ignored by their audience with a simple move of a thumb on their screen.


All images in this post were retrieved from Pixabay (2015)

6 thoughts on “Grabbing and Keeping the Attention of Your Audience in the Age of Social Media

  1. Phil, your visuals are really strong and effective in grabbing the attention of the reader. The Cat picture got me from the first second. I have three cats and two look just like your cat. Very nicely laid out with valuable information. Thanks!

    Amany Radwan Osman


  2. Laetitia Cany

    Your article gives a fresh perspective to subject (media release), and points out the essentials, stand out and connect with the audience.


  3. Alex

    Phil, I agree, the visuals definitely grab the attention and the text is what keeps the audience interested. You definitely “practiced what you preached” throughout your post. The photos you selected complemented the points you made. Well done!


  4. Nina

    This is true!!! I remember conversing with friends and family just with the use of emoticons! :-))) This made me remember that it is both text and image that tells the story esp through digital media. Great post!


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