Sunday, 18 December 2011

Eyetracking Facebook social media

Summaries of a couple of eyetracking studies conducted mainly on Facebook - one for brand pages and one for personal pages. The personal page study also compared behaviour with other social media sites.

While it's interesting stuff, I would have liked to know a bit more about the study. From what I can see, participants weren't given a scenario or task prior to having screenshots flashed up in front of them. It's been shown in the past that a person's eye movements can vary on the same image depending on the context that has been presented. (See: User test instructions affect behaviour - Feb 2011)

But then, I suppose that it's more likely that viewing of social media sites is going to be more aimless. I certainly don't visit sites like Facebook with a particular task in mind most of the time. Other than: "I'm bored, I wonder what folk have been posting?"

So, I suppose if most people think like me then this explains the results. You'll see the key focus is on the main content - the update stream in the centre of the page - with Nielsen's F shape pattern emerging.

While it's usually said that people scan the page with most focus on top left we can see that familiarity with the layout of the medium results in this behaviour persisting but shifting to the central column. The real top-left content - the profile image - is given less attention in the majority of cases.

So what does this mean for the profiles we manage alongside our websites? Content, content, content.

  • Post regularly. 
  • Think about why you're posting - will it be of interest to the target audience and what do you want readers to do? Try to have a call to action - something to do as a result of reading.
  • Monitor the interest in your posting - so you can hone the focus of your posts. And get an idea of whether your posts are driving readers to your site.
  • Respond to your posts - readers aren't just interested in your content, they're also interested in the interaction. So unanswered comments and questions isn't a good look.


What People Look at on Facebook Brand Pages - article by Sarah Kessler for mashable.com

How People Look at Your Facebook Profile - article by Sarah Kessler for mashable.com

Related post: Horizontal attention leans left (April 2010)

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