Let me ask you a question. Have you ever gotten emotionally charged from a Facebook post? Well, of course, you have. We all have. If you haven't, check your pulse, because that's just what it does. It keeps us engaged by getting us emotionally charged. In an interview coming up with Brian Kinghorn, who teaches a class called The Psychology of Social Media, he says that social media is like cocaine. Now, it's not exactly like cocaine because first of all, it's legal, and secondly, you don't have to ingest it. It does come in through your eyes, so maybe you do. But the bottom line is that the dopamine inside of our brains has the same effect with social media as it does with the drug cocaine.
I don't even know if people do cocaine anymore. I certainly don't. If you do, God bless you. Now, we're in a period in America where opioids are a big topic of conversation. Cocaine as a drug is a stimulant, but opioids are a depressant. They're an anti-pain medication, they're meant to dull pain, whereas cocaine gives an energy boost. It gives you a boost of consciousness supposedly, and that's essentially what social media does. Social media is a hundred percent tied to our emotions. The question I want to ask is: do you feel hurt, do you feel violated that Facebook gave away your data? Chances are, you do. Most people think it was a violation of trust, and I've talked about that before.
But this kind of stuff happens all the time.
You Are Not The Customer
The thing you have to think about is, unless you are buying ads on a social media platform, you are not the customer but you are the product being sold. It's your emotions, it's your likes, it's your political leanings, it's the movies that you look at, it's where you shop. Why do you check into particular things? If you check into a Starbucks, they know you like coffee. Guess what? Starbucks gets to sell you promotional items. Cards, gifts, whatever it is. They use that information to target you and that's what social media platforms are there for, it's to target their audiences.
Now, none of this stuff is new. Financial companies like Experian have been selling our personal financial data for years. Every time you apply for a loan, every time you go for a home loan or a home equity loan, or you apply for a credit card, that information is sold. Guess what? That's our information. We didn't give them permission to have that. We didn't sign anywhere in Experian's database that said, “Hey, we agree to your terms and conditions.” No, they take our information and they sell it. Guess what? You can't do anything about it because they own the data and we can't opt out of it. If you decide to opt out of it or even if you could, then you won't be able to get a credit card or a loan. That's just the way the system works.
It's the same thing with the media we consume. In the old days, we'd turn on a TV and we were forced to watch ads; it's just the way it was. Nowadays, we have these cable boxes, and guess what? The cable box takes in data. We're no longer getting a TV signal, we're getting digital information. From that same digital information, they could look at that box and see what you watch, when you watch, how much you're watching, which commercials you're getting. They get much more data to be able to target you. And if they take some of that psychographic information that they're getting from social media and combine that with your watching habits, look out.
All of these companies are in the business of selling us stuff based on our habits, based on our information. What can we do about it? Not a whole lot, unless you want to try to get off all social media and cut the cord. But, you know, Hulu and all these others are doing the same. So it doesn't matter what you do to try to get away from it, it's going to be there. There's some psychographical information that's tied to our emotions, and so a lot of that happens in social media as well.
Social Media Is An Enclosed Ecosystem
Let's take a quick look at the top three social media platforms for today: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. So why do people go on Facebook? Well, obviously, it's for personal relationships, to get engaged with some of their friends, maybe from high school, maybe locally in their community. It's all about social beliefs, though. You get really excited when somebody agrees with you, and then maybe you get really agitated when somebody posts something that you completely disagree with. I'm finding, especially on Facebook, that when I post something as simple as a caption contest, or something like a quote of the day, more people are commenting on it. They're coming in and they're trying to express their opinions behind this, not just liking it and engaging with it, but they're commenting.
Everybody loves the caption contests and loves to read other people's comments and how they engage with it. But occasionally, people are breaking off into a tangent, saying, “This is socially unacceptable and I see that this has been photo-shopped,” and so on and so forth. They get emotionally charged and it's like I'm attacking them. I have to constantly go back in and say, “It's a caption contest. Nobody is making a social statement here.” But still, they see it. Facebook is about engaging our social beliefs.
LinkedIn is about business, and it's about our business stature. How much do we feel like we're important to the business world? I see lots of people that pump up their profiles to make them look bigger than they really are. It happens all the time. The other thing that happens is that people on LinkedIn are attached to their careers and their money, and so that's where the topics come in. It's like people are very emotional about their dollars and cents, and their status in the business world.
Then if we take a look at Instagram, it's all about self-image. There's glamour shots, and there's beauty shots, and there's all of these beautiful photographs. I saw a woman who looked like she was taking selfies, but actually, they were staged shots with lighting and makeup and hair, and all these other things, to give this image of somebody who is more beautiful than they really are. All of this stuff is playing to our emotions.
Instagram, we want to be part of the cool crowd. LinkedIn, we want to be part of the rich and famous. Facebook, we want to be the most popular kid at school.
Ultimately, what can we do with that? Here's what it is. Think about how you're communicating with your customers and what emotions you can tap into to get them to take action. We'll dig deeper into this, in the psychology podcast that I'm going to do coming up. Think about each one of these platforms as its own little ecosystem. As you're generating content, think about how that content is emotionally interacting with your audience and getting them to see things from your perspective.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about the high of using social media. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?
To learn more about this and other topics on Internet Marketing, visit our podcast website at http://www.baconpodcast.com/podcasts/