Are we having a text adventure?
June 11, 2013 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Part of my job is dealing with the social marketing for our organization. I have noticed lately that many of our text posts are doing better than our visual posts - seemingly against FB best practices and logic. Has something changed?

We have a very specific type of post we do once or twice a week. Every time lately we have done this post as text only it has crushed the previous one with an image. We have seen other text only posts also beat posts with image - even when similar.

For example "Restaurant X is great" with image of food, chef or logo is performing worse than "Restaurant X is great" with no image, etc.

Granted the "restaurants" change post to post but this text vs. image thing seems pretty consistent.

I have poked around for changes in the FB formerly edgerank formula and have not seen anything about recent changes that may cause this effect.

posted by IzzeYum to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've started having a mental block against noticing logos or other markety images in my FB feed, mostly due to seeing them all the damn time in the newer versions of the iPhone app. Maybe people are more apt to notice something text-only that doesn't look so much like an ad?
posted by olinerd at 7:10 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I agree with olinerd. All of the worst stuff on FB has a big pretty image on it. Either some insipid inspirational quote or something advertising something to me. The only pics I pay attention to are either of dogs or of shakespeherian's cute baby.

Text means it's much more likely that a friend has actually taken the time to write something. Picture means it's either an ad or someone hit "share" on something dumb.
posted by phunniemee at 7:30 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure it was back in the '90s that someone figured out that most Internet readers had just stopped reading the most popular aspect ratio of banner ads. You could put important information in blocks of those shapes, tell readers that the content was on those pages, and they'd still not be able to find it.

A quick skim says the actual work I'm remembering is probably buried in a citation here, but from 2001: Journal of Digital Information: Why Are Users Banner-Blind? The Impact of Navigation Style on the Perception of Web Banners. Perhaps:
Benway (1998; 1999) as well as Benway and Lane (1998) report a series of usability studies in which they coin the term "banner blindness". Their subjects' task was to locate single information units on a Web page that could be found faster by clicking on a graphical full banner. In Benway and Lane's two experiments the vast majority of users did not use the banners for information retrieval. The first of these experiments showed that subjects had significantly more difficulty finding information when it was accessible via a banner than when it could be accessed via a text link. Benway and Lane concluded from the results that users are very likely to overlook information that is placed in graphical banners.
I suspect, without data, that two things are happening: First, that we adapt to graphical styles fairly quickly. Benway & Lane were publishing in 1998, banner ads started showing up around 1996, we collectively adapted to stop seeing them in the standard layout formats within two years (other links in that article suggest that, as of 2001, you could still build layouts where people saw the ads).

But second, that 2 years is a looong time in human perception now, Facebook image posts have been around for that long, and that we collectively have started to do a similar thing with Facebook image posts. Especially Facebook image posts that look professionally shot; I find myself skimming past "meme" pictures, noticing only vacation pix. But even there I also have notifications for specific people, and will only find their pictures when I see their names pop up in the notification list, even though I can then scroll and find their pictures in my timeline.

So, yeah: Human perceptual systems adapt. Fairly quickly. People have been taking advantage of image attention, the actual content has been relegated to text posts, so we've adapted to read only the text.
posted by straw at 8:52 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

You are not alone. This does seem to have something to do with changes in EdgeRank, although it's not clear to me exactly what those changes are.
posted by Mender at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Where in New York City can I take some parents to...   |   comfortable, good audio quality computer headset... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.