Social Media Psychology – Why we Like, Comment and Share

By Lisa Wozniak

We’ve all been there, we go online to accomplish something specific; check our email, posts, look for a specific page or site and then it happens. We end up falling into a rabbit hole of social media posts that capture our attention. But, have you ever wondered why this happens? There is psychology that determines why we like, comment and share with others online.
A recent study showed a direct connection between Social Media and the brain’s reward center. This area processes rewarding feelings about social acceptance. So if we are checking our platforms fairly regularly and we get positive feedback it will light up this portion of our brain. The more vested we are in social media the greater the reward is for us to see the positive feedback. When we are on social media and like a post or blog, it’s a way to identify to the writer of that post that you are agreeing with things that are important to them. In doing so, it’s a way to build acceptance. When we receive the likes it validates us as individuals and our point of view.
The adverse is also true. When we do not receive any likes or favorites on a post, we feel as though we have been denied validation. We begin to wonder why our friends have not acknowledged us. I think at some point we have all felt this way on social media. We post something that is either clever, funny or poignant and days go by as we listen to the sound of crickets. It can even feel to some as though they are devalued as a person.
From a business perspective it’s a bit different. Whether we like a business through social media or not is based upon what we will receive in return. For example, consumers will like a company if they want to support a brand that they like, receive coupons, receive updates, or while researching brands while looking for a specific product. Consumers will even like a business to let their friends know what they’re into. It can in some cases translate into a sign of social stature. A consumer’s decision not to like a company are based more upon privacy or whether or not the site is engaging.
The comment on social media has even greater impact on the reward center of our brain than the like does. In effect it is the validation that says “I identify with you so much that I am going to engage with you in public”. Not only does this fuel the reward center of our brain, but it goes a long way to staving off loneliness for those who suffer from this. As far as Facebook is concerned as a social media platform. Commenting retrains Facebook algorithms to give you more of content we’re interested in, thus making it more conversational.
When we share content that we’ve seen on social media, it is because a high arousal emotion in our brain has been stimulated. This can be anything from amusement, fear, or the need to support a person or cause. However, those that lurk on social media without engaging will generally feel more of a sense of loneliness and isolation. That said, the folks at CoSchedule have put together this infographic that further explains the reasons people share content.
For those of you who have ready my blogs before, I’m sure you’ve heard me stand on my soap box preaching about how social media is all about relationships and that it is the core reason why it is so successful. Creating content for your readers that is engaging and reaches people on an emotional level will have far more impact that simply broadcasting a message. As you search for content for your next blog or post think about the social media psychology and the reasons why we like, comment and share.


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