Facebook Wants "Thumb-Stopping Content" - Here is How to Get It!

by Emily Oswalt on January 23, 2017

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"Thumb-stopping" is one of those perfect new words: It describes those posts that capture attention so quickly and thoroughly that your thumb stops scrolling down the social media touchscreen, and you actually pay attention.

This is the goal for every brand on social media, and it's getting challenging. These days people scroll through their Facebook feeds so fast that you can spend hours crafting the perfect post, and still have people swipe on by without noticing it. So here's our modern guide to making thumb-stopping content that will catch those extra-busy users off their guard!


Brainstorming is a key starting place for several reasons. First, you want as much input as possible on how people move through social media feeds and what really catches their eyes, so rope in those interns and ask them what works. Second, brainstorming is one of the best ways to come up with those truly good ideas, the ones that capture everyone's interest. It's an easy litmus test for if a post has what it takes to stop thumbs!

Make a Notable Request

If you take a look at Facebook and other social platform posts that get the most and fastest responses, they tend to be requests. You know the sort of thing – "Give me a million likes and I'll cut off my hair" or "Like if you support charity!" Well, those are cheap appeals to emotion and you should stay away from them, but the core idea is valuable: People respond to requests. So don't be afraid to openly ask for something as a way to make people pause and consider responding. Openly admit you need help, or want ideas, or encourage shares. Say what your goal is, and invite your followers to side with you on reaching that goal. It can be surprisingly effective!

Grab Attention with News and Challenges

Make the post noteworthy! If people see something that doesn't look important, they scroll on by. So talk about important things. Announce major news that really is changing your industry (and say that's what you're doing)! Challenge the reader to try something new, experience something just created, or participate in a contest. You've been practicing worthwhile content on your blog (we hope), now dial that up to 11 for this post.

Use Photos for Emotional Connection

Photos or videos are absolutely required for this type of post. First, they provide more real estate, so it takes longer to scroll past your post and you get a better chance of drawing attention, especially on mobile devices. Second, these kinds of images or video create an immediate connection with the viewer in a way that words simply can't. However, to create these emotional connections you need to be smart about photos: Post pictures of humans doing real-life, human things or making a direct appeal to the viewer. If your product is in the shot, make sure a human is involved. You're looking for clear expressions that force our human minds to sit up and pay attention.

Use Capslock Sparingly

Ordinarily, all-caps words are a no-no, especially in the B2B world, where they are both annoying and unprofessional. However, we're willing to make a small exception here, because one of the better ways to stop thumbs is to, well, shout. So a quick "HELP!" or "WOW" can be appropriate for these must-see posts. You probably shouldn't put the entire post in caps, though, because there are still limits.

Don't Repeat Yourself Too Much

Thumb-stopping posts take a lot of time to create and market properly. When you find one that really takes off, it's tempting to copy that format and keep on using it, over and over. However, one of the big reasons that the post succeeded was because it was new and unique. Use the lessons learned, by all means, but don't try to copy the post with slightly different content and expect the same result. One reason these posts work is because they are relatively rare.

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Emily Oswalt

As social media manager at 21 Handshake, my passion of social media shines through to bring awareness to your brand. From the latest hashtag trend to engaging influencers, my desire is provide the best content to get your target audience talking online.