February 19, 2017
What is it about social media that keeps our eyes and brains transfixed for long hours? What void is social media filling up in our lives that real social interactions don’t? The questions are many, but one cannot qualm the ability of social media as one of the strongest medium of communication. It has emerged both as a kingmaker as well as a deal breaker.
Whatever you perceive social media to be, for marketers, it is the biggest playground where they can score more and unlock umpteen opportunities for their brands to flourish and earn huge returns. However, it is intriguing to know what magic social media does on users’ minds and instigate them to form an opinion, buy a certain product or avail a certain service.
Here are few observations from different social scientists and psychologists that might give you a better idea of the psychology of social media.
Social media is a source of immense information and a platform where people can keep a track of what is going on with people they know and follow. Human brains are always inquisitive in nature. This “seeking” behavior activates when people interact on social media or surf the internet to pick up an emotional buzz.
Marketers who can read the pulse of social media users and accordingly design and promote their messages have better chance of parking their brands correctly in people’s minds.
Social Media Is Not Addictive: It’s Seductive
In an interview, Psychologist Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology mentioned that technology is extremely seductive. Psychology of social media offers something that a one-way communication media doesn’t offer. It offers us an opportunity to interact and actively participate in the process and responds to our cravings for mental stimulation.
The gravity of social media isn’t just hype. It’s real. Our activities on social media produce two prime chemicals in our brain namely Dopamine and Oxytocin. Dopamine is stimulated by small bits and pieces of information and releases like a reward mechanism whenever we see a like, comment or share for our social media posts.
Similarly, oxytocin levels also rise with the increasing use of social media. This hormone is often referred to as ‘the cuddle chemical’ because it normally releases when you cuddle or engage in an intimate activity with your loved ones. The release of Oxytocin leads to lowering stress levels and an increase in trust, generosity, empathy and other positive emotional responses.
The content on social media arouses strong emotional responses such as surprise, anger, happiness, curiosity, empathy, contentment and others. These emotions send strong signals to our nervous systems and we get stirred up. Sharing the same content (blogs, articles, pictures, audio-visual content) among our social circles releases us from our anxieties to seek social relevance.
An understanding of what attracts people to social networking sites can help marketers know the psychology of social media. Marketers can design and create feel good digital experiences that users can connect with. Creating text-based, audio-visual, and other engaging content may instigate positive emotional response from social media users and unlock newer opportunities for a brand to interact with existing and potential customers.
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