Victoria Secret & Old Navy's Facebook Posts Are Not Smarter Than A 5th Grader's, Study Finds
Looks like Jeff Foxworthy was onto something when he began asking, "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?" Digital intelligence firm TrackMaven has found that the vast majority of Facebook posts from brands were written at a fifth-grade literacy level. This means one of two things — either brands and companies on Facebook think we are really stupid, or our education system really failed brands and companies.
According to TrackMaven's data, which they acquired using the well-respected Flesch Reading Ease scale to analyze the complexity of Facebook posts, an astounding 67 percent of the 1,578,006 posts examined could have been written by a 10-year-old. TrackMaven only looked at posts that received at least 1,000 likes, and pored over 5,800 Facebook pages in order to compile their sad, sad findings. The most common reading level of these posts? That of a first-grader. Yikes.
Of the more than 1.5 million posts analyzed, only 2.5 percent of them were written at a college level or higher. The TrackMaven study further discovered that a third of brand or company posts contained only 10 to 19 words, the most common of all Facebook post lengths. Nearly a quarter of posts were less than nine words long, which means that nearly 60 percent of these posts were under 20 words long.
Ironically, the posts that garnered the most likes were also the longest, as those with 80 to 89 words managed an average of 6.19 interactions — including likes, shares, and comments — whereas those 10 to 19 words saw only two interactions per post.
But even if people liked more words, they also really liked pictures. A study conducted earlier this year by Socialbakers found that an overwhelming 75 percent of brand posts are comprised of only photos, and TrackMaven found that 88 percent of brands use photos in their posts. Apparently, we never grow out of our penchant for picture books.
Perhaps this makes good business sense — after all, if a picture is worth 1000 words, what is the point of having any words at all? Another cheap trick to get more interaction? Throw in some exclamation points!!!!!! Using an exclamation point magically increased engagement levels a whopping 270 percent. But don't question your users — a question mark only increased interactions 23 percent.
The sad truth of the matter is, however, is that if companies are trying to appeal to the average American audience, their posts might actually be at the correct level, or even too high.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy conducted a study that suggested 14 percent of adults in the American population are illiterate. 21 percent cannot read beyond a fourth grade level, and these statistics have not changed in over a decade. If we take these findings into consideration, TrackMaven's study might even mark an improvement in literacy rates, considering they have reached fifth-grade status.
Major brands certainly don't help with improving grammar in the United States, with many famous slogans improperly utilizing the English language. But then again, "Got Milk" is much catchier than "Do You Have Any Milk?" Similarly, "Subway, Eat Freshly," just doesn't have the same ring to it as, "Subway, Eat Fresh."
But beyond slogans that tweak grammar for memorability's sake, there have been some other major fails on the part of corporations that should be documented. Here are just a few of our favorites.
1. Victoria's Secret
Apparently, one of her biggest secrets is her inability to correctly use apostrophes, as indicated by this phenomenal failure of an ad. Seriously, no one caught this? Maybe we're just not understanding their use of quotation marks.
A British brand made a major mistake that was caught and corrected by none other than a 15-year-old, who wrote the supermarket chain to inform them that "most tastiest" is grammatically incorrect.
3. Old Navy
Again with the apostrophes, people! Sometimes you need 'em, sometimes you don't. But when it comes to contractions, they are necessary. Old Navy didn't realize this when they sent out a batch of T-shirts available both online and in store that read "Lets Go !!"
With texting lingo and Internet slang now shown to have adverse effects on grammar, it seems that fighting Facebook advertisers for higher reading-level posts is a losing battle. And with giants like the ones above making mistakes, how much can we really expect?