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Avoiding the Scroll-By

When the “flip” became the “scroll,” and the “dog-ear” became the “Like”…

Like it or not, for brands our Instagram feeds have become the “catalogues” of the Millenium. Instead of flipping through pages as we watch TV or wind down at night in bed, now, we “scroll.”

To the great pleasure of our content-saturated brains, “the scroll” takes even less mental energy than the prehistoric “flip.” So, what is it that causes us to flip through, scroll by, or (gasp) actually stop to consider the promotional messages we see in catalogues (if you’re old school) or social media content? It all comes down to state of mind… but, literally.


My Brain Can't Do Much Today GIF


Let’s talk involvement…

When it comes to the way our brains process persuasive messaging, there are two distinct modes of involvement: Low Involvement Processing Mode and High Involvement Processing Mode. The state of the mind in each of these modes is pretty much exactly what you would think. However, understanding which mode the brain is in is the key to understanding exactly how, if at all, a person will choose to interpret the messages you put forth as a brand.


I'm Not Involved GIF


Sorry, I missed literally everything you just said…

When a person’s brain is the Low Involvement Processing Mode, messages will be processed peripherally. Peripheral Route Processing means the brain generally accepts or denies the message it is processing based on previously formed opinions or cues. However, the brain takes no extra time to actually interpret the message or to form a new strong attitude toward it.

Let’s consider this example. It’s Monday night after a long day at work. You are watching The Bachelor (or whatever your weekly dose of trashy television may be). As you watch, you scroll through your Instagram feed. In this moment, the part of your brain focused on the Instagram feed is in Low Involvement Processing Mode, and the posts that you are scrolling through are being processed peripherally. That is, until suddenly, something catches your eye that causes you to stop that scroll dead in its tracks. The second that you stop to study that post more carefully, your brain has been jolted into High Involvement Processing Mode.


Surprised Looking at Phone GIF


Wait a minute. Let me see that again…

The kind of interpretive processing that occurs in High Involvement Processing Mode is called Central Route Processing. When the person is in High Involvement Processing Mode, Central Route Processing is invoked because something in the message has triggered that person personally to the point that they are invested in critically understanding the message before forming an opinion about it.


Bill Hader Looking Surprised


Let’s get one thing straight…

The descriptions of Central vs. Peripheral Route Processing do not actually have any anatomical or physiological correlation to how the brain is transferring messages between neurons. In this context, Central and Peripheral Route Processing are specifically used by communications professionals to describe how the brain goes about forming attitudes and opinions.


It’s Personal, okay…

All throughout the day, our brains toggle back and forth between High and Low Involvement Processing Mode based on how strongly messages appeal to the recipient’s personal values. So what’s the bottom line?

To get target audiences interested in your brand, appeal to them on a personal level.


Pay attention to me!

When crafting content for social media and Instagram, in particular, make your messages bold and personal to the brand. Then, evaluate each post with an eye towards a little something we like to call “The Power Combo.”

The Power Combo is a list of attributes we’ve identified as the main drivers responsible for jolting people from Low Involvement Processing Mode to High Involvement Processing Mode. These attributes are Beautiful, Surprising, Relatable, and Value Expressive. When messages contain these attributes, followers are far more likely to like, comment, share, or more importantly, critically evaluate your brand.

Getting to the heart of how The Power Combo can be leveraged to motivate your followers to form strong opinions about the content you put out is critical. And, although there is no guarantee this approach will stop all of your followers mid scroll, your messages are guaranteed to resonate strongly with the right people, which is far more impactful.


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About the Author: Kathleen Bryson

Kathleen is a Marketing Manager. She loves actionable insights, team building, and getting outside in the Los Angeles sunshine.

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