Make no mistake about it, we are all social creatures!
There is always a puzzle we are seeking to solve that we believe the answer lies outside our personal confines. It is a natural thing that the most introverted person has a side that wants to mingle. But often times it happens that people keep more to themselves than they would have been able to share. Not necessarily that they are trying to be discreet (or something) but just that they haven’t got the nod to ventilate those experiences.
It is believed that people find it relatively much easier to interact with a computer than with others. This is because of lack of emotional attachment in online communication. People, despite not in a conversational mood, can still log on to their email or social accounts and respond to a couple of messages or posts. Maybe after a long hectic day, you decide to relax for a minute (with a cup of coffee by your side!), take up your phone to check some of the new posts in your timelines. While browsing through the messages, you eventually reply to some and strike up a conversation in the process without any sense of compromising your leisure time. Ordinarily, this is a time that you are not ready for any such conversation from other people, but your smartphone has just led you to initiate it yourself. This is a simple nature by which we engage in online communication.
Maybe after a long hectic day, you decide to relax for a minute (with a cup of coffee by your side!), take up your phone to check some of the new posts in your social timelines. While browsing through the updates, you eventually reply to some and strike up a conversation in the process without even getting a sense that you are compromising your leisure time. Ordinarily, this is a time that you are not in the mood for any such conversation from other people, but your smartphone has just led you to initiate it yourself. This is a simple nature by which we engage in online conversation.
A face-to-face conversation would have demanded a deeper concentration from you which you can’t afford in such mood. Experts believe that there is a set of activities that are triggered in the brain when in the presence of another person. This brain activation makes us be more conscious of ourselves in a conversation to begin making inferences about the minds and intentions of the “speaker”. That is why we can tell if someone isn’t finished talking even when they are not saying anything. We infer meaning from the wordless cues like the body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, even the physical distance between us and the other person gives a sense of interpretation. By this way, we are dispensing more emotional and cognitive functions than in a communication through a computer.
We infer meaning from the wordless cues like the body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, even the physical distance between us and the other person gives a sense of interpretation. In this way, we are dispensing more emotional and cognitive functions than in communication through a computer.
Sometimes these things happen that we don’t even know it, our brain is constantly discerning every little signal from the other person which enables us to re-represent their situation in our own thinking. All this back and forth exchange of signals
But, all this back and forth exchange of signals are removed in a computer interaction that is summed up into only emoticons and punctuation, which is why we often opt for communicating through social media especially when we are mentally drained or stressed. With the thought that this will help to escape from our physical environment stress into a digital world.
The argument is that we often choose to interact on the internet even when we are less active in the mood that face-to-face conversation of the same proportion would have been too much for us in that emotional state. So it means anybody can converse on
So the conclusion is that anybody can converse on social media when he/she is least expected to engage. But the motivation behind that conversation can vary based on individuals. This is what we are going to look at, how to psychologically understand your audiences using their social media interactions? What is the motivation behind the specific actions that people take on social media?
Why “Can’t We but” Like Social Media
Social Media has been around for decades but it is amazing how this phenomenon keeps growing to a new height. Given the short attention span of us as humans generally, you would expect something that causes serious buzz from the outset to fizzle away over time, – why social media case took an exception? You could argue say because it is “social” but there are many instances of socially gratifying phenomenon that initially garnered interest in wide acclaim but subsequently experienced downturns in grandeur after a period of time, an apt example of this is the SeaWorld decision to end Killer Whale Shows because of
There is an argument to believe that because it is “social” but there are many instances of a socially gratifying phenomenon that initially garnered interest in wide acclaim but subsequently experienced downturns in grandeur after a period of time. An apt example of this is the SeaWorld decision to end Killer Whale Shows because of mounting protests against it from the public. When Facebook burst
When Facebook burst to the scene a decade ago, many people predicted that it will soon be displaced by a newer sensation similarly the way itself has usurped Myspace. But the Facebook we have today is a phenomenon that has become a second nature to most of us.
Social media was able to stay in the corridor of relevance and would continue to be because it strikes a “chord of unpredictability” in us. When a phenomenon that keeps unraveling itself is thrown at people, that leaves them in a situation where they are constantly seeking answers on what shouldn’t necessarily be a problem in the first place.
Humans like puzzles really?
You might say there is nothing puzzling about social media but the fact that no one can perfectly predict an outcome of a given social media action leaves some questions.
Let me give you an example, from my experience when I shared a really valuable post on Twitter I keep on checking back repeatedly to see how people are engaging the tweet, I do it frequently that (at times) the number of check-backs on the post would be greater than its actual total engagements (retweets, likes, replies).
Now, imagine that the engagement on Twitter is fixated that I already know beforehand the number of likes, re-tweets, and replies my post can garner on the platform. I wouldn’t need to be checking back on my tweet to see its performance, and if such fixed outcome is applied to other areas like the followers count, content type, ads, campaign results, and the rest, then we will be left in a situation where only time is needed for users to outgrow twitter.
Buffer is a great content sharing tool that has been around for a while and has been trusted by many of the big brands today. I, particularly, love it for allowing me to know the optimal times to schedule my social media posts with its optimal scheduling feature that intuitively shows the peak times of the day your posts often get the highest engagements in a graph. This has proven to be very reliable but not perfect. From my experience, there are times when a post scheduled at the lowest level of engagements gets much more exposure than those at the peak. It isn’t because Buffer’s calculation is inaccurate but for the dynamism of social media landscape.
The rate at which new features are being added to these social media platforms has also done nothing but to create mighty puzzles that are enough to keep our brain engaged forever, 🙂 . So, instead of growing tired of social media, users will keep on seeking a better way to unravel its potentials for their personal and business needs.
Our brain craves puzzle and that is exactly what social media has offered to keep us glued to it. To use the idea to better manage your social media marketing, post content that your audience will find useful (at least) to a certain level to arouse interest and then give them the options to make their own choices for individual problems. For instance, if the topic is about Analytics, you can measure metrics from a set of figures that will show your audience how to interpret same for a different scenario in their own business. Another thing is to post content that is fairly controversial to stir a reaction from your them. You can go against the grains on a topic of vast interest to induce an argument, but make sure you have enough (bullet!) proof to back up your stand.
Use the “Halo Effect” to an advantage
The Halo Effect is a psychological bias in which how we feel about a person clouds our judgment of that person’s character. It is a phenomenon that is known to exist in human thinking where general perception often trumps specific qualities. A research into halo effect shows that a person’s physical qualities and general attractiveness affect how we perceive their other traits like good nature and sense of responsibility, – the better they look and behave, the better a person we judge them to be.
Edward Thorndike first described this in a study in 1920, where he asked two commanding offers to rate their soldiers in terms of their physical qualities (like neatness, energy, physique) and their emotional, mental, and social qualities (like intellect, teamwork, and punctuality). Thorndike discovered that a soldier who was rated highly on one quality tended to also be rated highly on the other qualities, and vice versa.
That is, when a soldier was rated as intelligent he also tended to achieve higher scores on physique and neatness, while a soldier rated poorly on punctuality was also given low marks on teamwork and energy. Thorndike concluded that these correlations were too high to be due to any chance or a mere coincidence, and he called them a “halo error,” that is, how a perceptual view of the individual created a Halo – positive or negative – around the person that blurred their specific qualities.
Further studies into the halo effect have shown it can color our judgment on varied circumstances, like how jurors think of defendants, how people think of a politician, and even how we perceive non-human entities like organizations and brands. It is a common practice in the business world that people often rate some products higher not because they offer special quality or something, but because of the aura of their brand name.
Since the overall impression of your business matters most, it is vital you create a great feeling in your content because this often gives the first impression about your business to people. Try to front your best content on social media to build your thought leadership, share them more on Facebook and tag the relevant people, pin the top post to your twitter profile, start discussions on LinkedIn groups with these articles, and do so across other social media platforms you are in. Letting your audience have a full taste of these masterpieces could create positive feelings with spiral effects on other levels of your brand evaluation.
Having explained these,
Let’s take a look at the psychology sides to these social media actions:
Why do people “Post” on social media?
It is not news that social media provides a perfect avenue to share our experiences with other people who care about them. But the pattern of interaction is different for individuals given their personal traits. A research by Brunel University found that those who are insecure tend to post more updates about themselves to seek validation from other people, while egotists post about their achievements to bait for likes that will further reinforce their sense of self.
There is another study that illustrated how people who post selfie are more likely to show “extreme traits” like narcissism and psychopathy. A narcissistic user is so obsessed with their appearance that he/she takes a cut of any change to let people know what his/her new look like.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise that someone’s Facebook status updates reflect their personality traits,” says psychology lecturer Dr. Tara Marshall. Study these details keenly to know more about your audience and use the psychology sides to better tailor-fit your content to them. But also note that certain social media interactions could be as a result of a niche or a profession that an individual is in. For instance, users in a fashion industry may exhibit more selfie trait than those in health. You just have to know if such trait is personal or business.
Why do people “Share” on Social Media?
Perhaps this is the most important area that will benefit your social media greatly if you can know the “why” behind some of the content that has gone viral on these platforms. Of course, the popularity of a user’s social account matters a lot, but there are times when content from the same account enjoys far different fortunes of share on social media. Definitely not because of scheduling times they are getting those shares – but why? Let’s see what this study by New York Times Insights Group offers for the reasons why people share:
- 49% – To bring valuable and entertaining content to others in order to influence their opinions on a subject.
- 68% – To make others understand who we are and what we do.
- 69% – To feel more involved and part of social communications.
- 78% – To stay connected and grow our relationship with other people.
- 84% – To show support for a cause we care about.
In addition, a whopping 73% of respondents said sharing allows them to process the information more deeply, thoroughly, and thoughtfully. Coupled a number of users who also claimed it is an act of “information management” to them.
Looking at the above statistics, you can say that sharing is a way of reinforcing ourselves on the social media landscape, as rightly supported by this research from Kissmetrics: It shows that quizzes are the most shared content on Facebook. For reason that they can help boost user’s perceived value and strengthen their identity. Quiz results can be very powerful for showing your interest, expertise, and value to the community. And such can be said with other types of content that are most shared in other platforms.
Let your content be aspirational to your audience, like something that girdles what they need to build their social media authority. Remember, people share content because it adds value to them, as your readers will have to connect with your content before they can share them, only few will do so purely out of loyalty to your brand. Sharing is also a way for users to define themselves to others, you may want to include inspirational memes and captivating images to your content to stir interests into viral.
Why do people “Like” on Social Media?
“Liking” is a key component of any social media interaction. It makes the experience more human and fun as you get to judge from different views based on the number of likes on posts. It is also a sort of way of giving a nod of approval to something in a conversation. Meanwhile, there are many interesting things with a varied number of likes on social media. Let’s see the psychological undertone behind why users would decide to like one interesting thing and ignore the other:
What is obvious is that people like familiar territories more on social media. A survey by Pew Research understands that, 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends at least once in a day, while 29% claimed they do so several times a day.
“Like” is the easiest and quickest way of showing support for a cause we love without going deep in the conversation.
A particular study discovered that “likes” could predict a number of identification traits in users even when they had not disclosed them, like whether someone was a White or African American with 95% accuracy, as well as their sexual orientation (whether they were a gay male) with 88% accuracy, even their gender with 93% accuracy. This study was conducted on more than 58,000 Facebook users who made their likes public through a Facebook app.
The great thing about social media “likes” is that they are highly influential (or say contagious), that is, the more likes you get the higher the chance that people would like you even further. So leverage your “social proof” to promote your content further. You can take the bid to friends of fans since they have already seen someone they know or trust showing interest, there is a higher chance that they too will be willing. You can also use the “liking” patterns of your social media audience to uncover more details about their specific traits to help target your content to them.
Over to you,
What are the psychological secrets that have helped you keep your followers engaged on social media? How are they related to the tips shared on this article? Let’s listen to your experience in the comment below.