Sure you’ve heard that a photo is worth a thousand words — but that might not be true when it comes to Facebook.
A new study has found that people who were shown a Facebook status update and then a sentence from a book were 1.5 times more likely to remember the status update. And users who were shown a status update and a photo of a person’s face were 2.5 times more likely to remember the text than the photo. While much of the focus in social media is centered on photos right now, the research validates the idea that status updates can have real staying power with our brains, because we recognize it as something closer to actual human speech.
The study, conducted by researchers from the UK and U.S. and published in the Memory and Cognition journal, found that text written for Facebook updates fell into the category of “mind-ready” information, meaning our brains more easily took in the text and committed it to memory because of its conversational, unedited nature that’s more like human speech. And in a second test, they found that it wasn’t just the gossipy nature of Facebook that had an impact — conversational tweets or online comments had a similar effect. (So maybe all those grammar-challenged updates from your friends aren’t as awful as you thought, as long as they sound like something your friends would say.)
In other words, you’re more likely to remember this:
“I updated my grilling app, iGrill, today and it now has Facebook integration that lets you see what other people are grilling right now around the world. Awesome. I’m making a Fred’s steak.”
But aside from giving you a pass on your Facebook grammar, the study has implications for almost everyone using the platform. The researchers noted that Facebook is updated more than 30 million times an hour. As the company works to build out its search capabilities and give you access to all the text and information posted from your friends, it’s worth noting that the text — and not just the photos that Facebook is known for — has real value. And that advertisers and marketers posting content on the platform should think closely about what resonates.
Aka, we should totes wr8te 4 actual people, bro.