Blog 12: What is social media?

How to attract people’s attention?

Many news organizations use social media accounts to drive people to read their stories. However, it is not a easy thing because we only have seven seconds to grab people’s attention. This means that a person’s attention span is allegedly less than that of a goldfish: nine seconds.

Meanwhile, it is significant for news organizations to attract people on social media. About 20% of the U.S. adults get political news primarily through social media.

So, what can we do to attract more people to read our stories we share on the social media platforms?


Attractive captions can make people want to click on the links we post. A good caption maybe a good summary of the whole story or an interesting quote from one source.

There is no template that can help us write good captions. However, we can see what we should not do to avoid writing a bad caption.

At first, we should not repeat the titles of those news stories in the captions unless the titles are interesting enough. This is because readers can already see stories’ titles. It is not necessary for us to repeat that again. We should write captions to provide more information than just the titles can provide.

Bad captions

Second, we should not introduce every aspect of the story in the captions. If we do that, readers will realize that they don’t need to read news stories any more because they will know everything in our captions.

For instance, in this NPR post, the caption tells followers that the story is about how President-elect Joe Biden manage the pandemic once he takes office, which is a good summary. But it doesn’t introduce the specific steps or ways about how he will manage the pandemic. Therefore, people who want to know more about President-elect Biden’s plan will want to read the full story.


If our stories include photos or videos, we can choose thumbnails for our posts.

For example, in this NPR story, the thumbnail is so fun that it may trigger people’s interest to read the full story.

To recap, there are many ways to attract people’s attention on social media platforms. We have to make good use of everything we can to grab attention so that we can successfully have our stories read by the public.

Sources I use as references:

  1. Microsoft: Marketing with purpose
  2. You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish
  3. Americans who mainly get their news on social media are less engaged, less knowledgeable

Published by Lgao

NBC News Asia Desk Fellow Reporter

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