Look at me! Gaining Attention and Engagement Online.

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There is no question that research into the interaction and activity of social media users has revealed valuable information regarding an individual’s attention span while on the web. Taking this information into account has been an extremely valuable practice for many social media platforms, as they now have a frame of reference for keeping their users active and engaged with the content being presented on their sites.

Where’s My Attention?

The ability to garner attention on a social media post, or some other content that one creates, is no easy task in the current online landscape. For any one interest there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other creators and content providers that may be presenting something similar to what someone may be trying to promote. Luckily, due to the nature of social media, content creators have numerous tools at their disposal to attempt to boost the attention that their posts receive. One metric to evaluate how much attention a post receives takes into account how many people repost, comment on, or decide to follow the creator (Ruiz, Aiello & Jaimes, 2014). It is reasonable to assume that if these three activities are not taking place on or as a result of a certain post, then that post is not gaining much attention. Evaluating content in this way should allow the creator to adjust and adapt to what their prospective audience seems to be more interested in, which in turn would likely help their future posts gain much more attention. Another way in which social media may be able to keep more attention is through appealing visuals. In a study conducted on the attention held by application icons, researchers were able to pinpoint specific icon styles and compositions that were able to hold the users attention better than less appealing icons (Lin, Hsieh & Wu, 2016). It follows that when content is presented in a visually appealing way, more people are likely to pay attention to it. Social media users may also be able to capitalize on trends in order to gain more attention on their posts and in turn reach more people, due to the way that many social media platforms promote popular topics (Lahuerta-Otero & Cordero-Gutierrez, 2016). A common example of this would be large companies incorporating a popular meme into an advertisement to gain easy likes.

Let’s Get (and stay) Engaged!

Securing engagement on social media refers to a poster’s ability to foster discussion, interaction, and community with other users (Lin, Hsieh & Wu, 2016). Social media platforms have sought to make engagement and interaction a cornerstone of their business since their inception. When more people engage on a particular platform, more people are available to advertise to, and possibly even add to a company’s follower base. In order to secure engagement from other users on their content, creators may employ a variety of strategies. One way to create more engagement is by engaging with others. According to some researchers, one of the things that makes an influencer is their ability to interconnect on a large scale with other influencers and average users (Lahuerta-Otero & Cordero-Gutierrez, 2016). One need only look at twitter users like Lil B or Barack Obama to see that engagement is indeed a reciprocal practice. The more you engage, the more you get engaged with. Another way in which creators can get users to be more engaged is through interactive content. It has been shown in some studies that young users will even engage in content they don’t particularly have an interest in more often if it is interactive (Peacock & Leavitt, 2016). How ever a user decides to use social media, if the content they post is informative, fun, interesting, or piques an interest in a large number of users then it is almost certain that the content will be engaged with.


Lahuerta-Otero, E., & Cordero-Gutierrez, R. (2016). Looking for the perfect tweet: The use of data mining techniques to find influencers on Twitter. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 575–583.

Lin, H., Hsieh, Y., & Wu, F. (2016). A study on the relationships between different presentation modes of graphical icons and users’ attention. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 218–228.

Peacock, C., & Leavitt, P. (2016). Engaging young people: Deliberative preferences in discussions about news and politics. Social Media + Society, 2(1), 1–11.

Ruiz, C. V., Aiello, L. M., & Jaimes, A. (2014). Modeling dynamics of attention in social media with user efficiency. EPJ Data Science, 3(1), 1–12.

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