What It Means To Put Your Brain on Social Media

The following blog post is not for beginners but rather my rumination on an inherent problem arising from social media i.e. the question of what results from your brain on social media or the way social media targets changes our brains. Consider this a theoretical musing by a professor of social media that’s a 3.0 conversation for social media marketers.

Remember those 90s commercials about your brain on drugs? Turn out social media acts like a drug for your brain. As a result likes and comments produceĀ  the feel good hormone serotonin and increase neurological activity in the brain. This is your brain on social media: constantly searching for the next feel good high.

The study done at UCLA scanned the brains of 32 teens who were asked to submit pictures and then awarded a random number of likes. After scanning their brains, the scientists found that the more likes a photo got the more neurological activity a teen showed. This is the same activity shown when one buys chocolate or wins money.

What does that mean for us as marketers and what does that mean for us as humans?

For marketers, it shows the integral connection between the brains of our target customers and our brands. User generated content that grows more engagement results in feel good vibes about the product and about the user. Therefore, the more we ask users to create content about us and then reward them for that content creation the more effective we are going to be in creating good positive relationships. This speaks also to the need for brands to like and respond to comments from their users. If we like content, it helps to fuel the serotonin burst.

Tip: Make sure you are as engaged with what your audience is posting as you are with your own posts.

For humans, I think its worrisome. It shows the addictive nature of social media and the way it takes over our brain and our level of happiness. I worry about teens who delete posts that don’t get likes fast enough or judge their self esteem on the responses to social media content. And, yet, I feel like we have done them an injustice by not explaining that a like doesn’t haveĀ  a value and that social media has manufactured its own importance.

Tip: We know the mental connection between values and responses to online content but perhaps we don’t have to exploit it. We should manage our expectations of what is possible — provide value where we can and not demand audience size for the sake of audience size.

Do you agree or disagree about the way we should act when considering the brain on social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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