Research conducted in the last two or three years has provided some interesting insight into why it is that we engage with social media:

  • 80% of the content posted on social media sites, during a study conducted in 2012, were generalized posts about the immediate experience of the user. That could be something as simple as, "So tired...not ready for the week to start" or "Stuck in traffic - going to be a long day."

  • Another study showed that users tend to share advertisements and promotions that are an extension of their self-concept, and one of course that is entertaining.

  • Finally, sharing content in the spirit of offering help, advice, or suggestions to others gives people the sense of giving to others. By sharing that great article with a coworker who can benefit from it, you are really being benefitted as well, although in a different way.

So, is this what drives us to engage in social media content?

We want to show the "social world" who we are, how we want to be perceived, all the while being important and helpful to others?

I came across a great article that discusses this in more detail. The author gives a great example of what may be a typical "social media" day for any one user and explains why content is shared.

In thinking of the examples above, the article talks about how these types of content posting activities activate the dopamine reward system, which provides that internal reward that so many of us crave.

The more content sharing and posting in these various ways, the more that reward system is activated.

In extreme cases, it can be likened to a "drug" that people seek out to feel better about themselves.

From a business standpoints, it's a good thing to keep in mind as your marketing team is developing advertisements and engaging with customers - providing information that is entertaining, easy for customers to associate themselves with, and viewed as something that can be shared to help others may increase the virality of the content and enhance brand loyalty and engagement.

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