How long do you think you have to grab someone’s attention?

In the fast-scrolling world of social media, it is not long, at all. What started out as the five second rule for websites has deteriorated even more for social media channels like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and more. It’s more like a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss it.’

It may be frustrating to put so much time into your content only to have most people scroll right on by it. Why do some posts get the clicks that yours don’t? It may not be the content, itself, but how you try to grab their attention.

You can craft more engaging posts using a few tricks of human psychology, like these:

Surprise them
Surprises are far more stimulating for our minds and will grab our attention much quicker than things we know well and even really like. Substitute the unexpected for the familiar, even if you’re using a common motto or cliché. For example, if you run an auto shop, ‘Don’t cry over spilled oil,’ could be a could headline for a blog about oil changes. Or ‘Braking up the wrong tree’ could warn about the hazards of getting a non-professional brake job

Ask questions
Questions that prime our curiosity are powerful brain influencers. Whereas, if we already know from the headline what comes next, our curiosity may be over before it begins. Which brings us to the next point:

Keep them guessing. You have to be careful with this, because one marketer’s ‘curiosity’ may be a consumer’s ‘click bait.’ You’ve seen the kinds of headlines, though, even if you haven’t registered them as curious. “They said he was just a normal boy, but when he took off his shoes…”

Our advice with this: use it sparingly, and make it pay off. Nothing turns people off like a cop out.

Be negative
Yes, we did just end a grueling political season that was more negative than any in history, but that’s not the kind of negative ads we’re talking about. Headlines that advise against something or provide warnings generally get more interaction than others. “How not to seize up an engine,” or “5 ways to not look like an social media idiot.” Negatives like “don’t,” “stop,” and “avoid” often work well since everyone wants to know if there’s anything they should stop doing.

Talk to your audience (you in the headline)
We are talking social media, right? It’s perfectly acceptable, in that case, to talk to your customers directly in the headline. You’ve probably noticed these types of advertisements before, too: Things you should be doing to attract more customers. Pair them up with a number and get even better results: “Seven things you should stop doing right now.”

The five second rule, by the way, still applies to your business website. The next time you take a look at it, see if you can answer these questions within that five seconds:

  • What is this site about?
  • What am I supposed to do?
  • Does it capture my interest?

And, perhaps most importantly:

  • Do I want to share it?

What do you want to see within the first few seconds of visiting a site or social media page? Let us know in the comments!