Culture | Apr 15, 2019
There’s a good reason why so many companies are incorporating social media elements into their websites — people crave it. Literally.
A team of researchers at Chicago University’s Booth Business School concluded that tweeting or check emails may be harder to resist than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. And a researcher at Claremont Graduate University found that oxytocin — sometimes called the “cuddle chemical”— is released not just when you kiss or hug, but also when you tweet.
Buffer blogger Courtney Seiter noted the Claremont study found that with just 10 minutes of social media time, “oxytocin levels can rise as much as 13 percent — a hormonal spike equivalent to some people on their wedding day. And all the goodwill that comes with oxytocin — lowered stress levels, feelings of love, trust, empathy, generosity — comes with social media, too.”
Seiter, as part of a presentation called “The Psychology of Social Media,” delved more deeply into why people have such a strong urge to use social media.
“It’s not news that we love to talk about ourselves. Humans devote about 30–40% of all speech to talking about themselves but online that number jumps to about 80% of social media posts … Why? Talking face-to-face is messy and emotionally involved … Online, we have time to construct and refine. This is what psychologists call self-presentation: positioning yourself the way you want to be seen. The feeling we get from self-presentation is so strong that viewing your own Facebook profile has been shown to increase your self-esteem.”
She says it’s only natural that people also find value in “liking” social posts from others — and they cherish it when their posts are liked by others.
“We do this because we want to maintain relationships,” Seiter wrote. “When we favorite and like each other’s posts, we add value to the relationship, and reinforce that closeness. We also create a reciprocity effect. We feel obliged to give back to people who have given to us, even in a small way.”
It’s no surprise that urging website visitors to post selfies has become such a successful tactic to boost engagement, Seiter believes. The biggest reason: “we pay more attention to faces than we do to anything else. The profile picture is the first place the eye is drawn to on Facebook and other social media sites. On Instagram, pictures with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes and 32 percent more likely to attract comments … Viewing faces can also create empathy.”
Encouraging the use of emojis also has been a success for many websites.
“Most of us are not aware of it, but we mimic each other’s expressions in face-to-face conversation,” Seiter wrote. This is emotional contagion, and it’s a big part of how we build connectedness. Online, we recreate that crucial element of empathy using emoticons and emoji. Today, 92% of people in the U.S. regularly use stickers, emoticons or emojis in their online communication, and 10 billion emoji are sent around the world every day.”
Another tactic we urge in using social media elements to boost website engagement is to spotlight communication from influencers — experts, executives, celebrities or pretty much anyone else who’s well-known and not afraid to express an opinion in an online post.
Here’s a whopper of a statistic: the number of Google searches for the term “influencer marketing” has soared from 1,500% to 61,000 over the past three years, according to The State of Influencer Marketing 2019 Benchmark, a report that included a survey of 800 marketing agencies and professionals.
Asked whether they consider influencer marketing effective, 92% of the experts said yes. And almost half of the businesses surveyed said they plan to spend of least 20% of their marketing budget on influencers. Also, 28% listed influencer marketing as the No. 1 method for fast growth of online audience — nearly double the percentage of those who said organic search as the top method.
Additional points to ponder:
- Video gets people to tune in. Research done for Animoto, a video marketing firm, shows that 73% of a website’s visitors are more likely to use or buy a product or services if there’s a video component. Asked what type of content gets the best return on investment for social media marketing, 63% of businesses said video, 56% chose photos and graphics, 25% said blog posts, 23% texts and quotes, and 22% said infographics, according to Animoto’s 2018 State of Social Video study.
- Having video as part of an email can pay off. A study for Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform company, found that using the word “video” in an email subject line can boost open rates by 19% and clickthrough rates by 65%.
- Another interesting piece of data comes from Cisco, which projected that global internet traffic from videos will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021.
- Holding experiential events that directly encourage employees to engage on social media are especially effective — “selfie” walls, sporting events, group gatherings, games and competitions are just a few of the possibilities.
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