Human beings are, by nature, social creatures. We communicate, we feel emotion, we connect with others based on common interests, we have a proclivity to create.
Enter technology and buzz words like “social media”. Yep, “social media” is a buzz word. Why? Because it was always there – people have been connecting, talking, creating, and sharing for a very very long time. New shiny objects (Pinterest, Posterous, Foursquare, StumbleUpon, Digg, Tumblr, exit Bebo, exit MySpace – you get the point) make us gravitate to them and all too often, we extend resources to make it work. But why? To be an early adopter? Sure. To innovate and maintain competitive advantages? Absolutely. But what do we learn if the shiny objects aren’t a fit – something you don’t even know on the onset of a new tool or platform – and what if doing it “right” is cost and resource prohibitive because there is no data to back it up?
All too often, myself included, I see people reinventing the wheel and not taking any learnings and data into consideration about decisions.
So I challenge you to ask yourself – what can we learn from these evolutions in technology and communication and how people and content connect in the digital space? And more importantly, how are these learnings translatable to human behavior outside of digital? What social learnings can you take or infer about human behavior that will outlive the popularity of [enter XYZ social platform here]?
1. We are narcissists and voyeurs.
According to the Pew Internet Study: Social Networking Sites And Our Lives, an average day on Facebook consists of some of the following actions by the site’s users (close to a billion of them, might I add):
- 26% “Like” another user’s content
- 15% of users update their own status
- 22% comment on another user’s posts or status updates
- 20% comment on another user’s photos
people you like recognition. It feels good when someone reads your blog and comments about it. You like it when someone retweets your content. You check your LinkedIn profile stats to see who has viewed your profile (could someone be trying to hire you for a job or a project – or, most probable considering how LinkedIn is used for lead generation, someone is trying to sell you something).
Simply put, humans like to be heard and made to feel that their opinion counts (how would you react if you were ignored in meetings, or people didn’t give you a chance to actually speak by talking over you all the time?) The same goes on social sites, but now audiences are extended and we have actions such as “comment”, “like”, “reply”, “retweet”, “pin”, “subscribe”, “follow” and the list goes on, to actually tell us that people are listening.
Oh, and we need to call out photo activity on Facebook.
- 6 Billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month
- Women upload more photos than men (Can we make some social connections here regarding the women/beauty/power theories? Sure, but that’s a whole other topic)
people you like showing off. And people you like creeping. I can go into an entire monologue on this, but Dr. Jean Twenge and Dr. Keith Campbell do a nice job of really bringing this home in their book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (Excellent read!)
Bring it to your organization:
How can you leverage people’s desire for recognition? How can you leverage knowing that people like seeing their name in lights and having their voices (and their pictures!) heard (seen)?
Involve them. People are more likely to promote themselves for their own benefit, not necessarily for your reasons. So what? Align and leverage it. Win/Win.
2. We create.
Technology has given everyone the power to be a publisher. We’re all photographers now and technologies like Instagram make us designers now too. Hell, I make photo books for my niece, a photographer, nor a designer am I (the books come out awesome FYI).
- 100+ hours of video is uploaded to YouTube in less than 5 minutes.
- 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content.
Bring it to your organization:
How can you leverage people’s creativity and content production? Not everything will be “brand” quality, but that’s the beauty of people – it’s a person, not a faceless brand – the human connection, not necessarily the quality, is what has the potential to resonate.
Crowdsource. People like to be a part of things. People will create. Give people credit (see above), and they will create more for you. And probably share it too.
3. We connect with other humans. Our faces elicit emotion.
Close to 1 billion users with a valuation at almost $100 Billion… there’s a lot that we can learn from the growth of Facebook and it’s not just about how to grow a fan base.
A study conducted about brain responses concluded that the most emotional connection was created between a user and Facebook versus other leading search and media outlet sites.
In Mashable’s write up, “A.K. Pradeep, the CEO of NeuroFocus [Firm commissioned for the study], says the presence of faces on Facebook are a major reason why. ‘As you can see, one of the dominant features of Facebook is the human face,’ he says. ‘The face is a window to the emotions.’ Pradeep says that since childhood we are trained to read people’s faces to discern emotion, and that such information is key to survival: Thus the stimulation we experience when scanning our newsfeeds”.
Businesses, especially B2B, are relationship driven. Technology cannot take the place of one to one interaction, but it can enhance and optimize.
Bring it to your organization:
How can you bring any of your internal and external projects to life by using the human face?
Knowing that a stronger emotional connection and perhaps, emotional response can be triggered by the face, but perhaps not possible or relevant all the time – test content performance. Try using stock imagery vs. that of real people in real situations (not stock photos of people, this is just bad) in marketing materials. Test content distribution. Try personal distribution of content via social networks (actual people) vs. that of the brand. The brand might have more reach and more people might access, so test performance as a ratio of desired action to audience number.
Evolutions in behavior are constantly occurring. People are selfish and we’re pretty fickle too.
Yep, we all are. We’re busy. We really don’t care about things if they are not relevant right now. Plus, something that I like today can perhaps be something I could care less about tomorrow. And I want it now. And I want it interactive. Woah – I’m needy.
But really, the Internet and mobile devices and constant communication methods have trained us like that. Technology is at our fingertips and if I can’t find what I am looking for, I will move on to something else.
Unless there is an apocalypse, the speed and the access of information will only continue. Facebook might collapse and enter XYZ social tool can take it’s place, but human nature and the learnings from sites like Facebook will remain constant.
Nothing new is occurring, it’s just amplified. People connect to people. People consume content, they create it, they share it, they talk about it.
What do you want them to talk about?