Study: People remember your Facebook status updates more than books

Get this. A new study says that your Facebook status updates are more memorable to people today than carefully crafted lines from a book. If that’s not proof that social media exposure has real impact and an insanely long shelf-life, I don’t know what is.

A team of psychologists from the University of California published their research in the academic journal “Memory and Cognition.” They collected hundreds of Facebook posts from undergraduate research assistants and the same number of random phrases from recently published books sold on Amazon.

They made sure that the specific context was taken out so that the status updates and book excerpts stood completely on their own. Study participants were asked to memorize them. As it turns out, those Facebook statuses we throw up all willy-nilly stick with a person 1.5 times more than the words written by published authors.

The conclusion reached in the study was that because social media status updates are more “unfiltered” and represent “effortless chatter,” they are seen more like everyday conversations and thus are easier to remember. The study was repeated with news headlines. This time, people remembered the comments social media users made about the headlines more than the headlines themselves.

When an author writes a book, it goes through countless revisions and is looked over meticulously by editors. When we post something online, the only filter we have is the one between our brains and mouths – or keyboards – in that split second before we hit “Send.” So, not only are we more at risk of regretting what we type, but it’s also likely to be remembered for a long time and have implications for our social media reputation.

The next time employees post a personal status update or they post an official update on behalf of your business, don’t you want to know what’s being put out there is actually in your best interests? Talking to an online reputation consultant is a good first step toward avoiding embarrassing and potentially damaging situations.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.