The psychology behind our digital profiles on Social Media

Domo – a programmatic company, gathering, analyzing and sharing information, data, statistics and insights concerning digital Marketing, says for 2014 that “In a single minute, we send out 277,000 tweets; share 2,460,000 pieces of content on Facebook; post 216,000 new photos on Instagram; and upload 72 hours of new video on YouTube”. So it’s kind of safe to say that we like to share content with the online world.

The statistics show that:

  • Around 40% of the world population has an Internet connection today (Internet World Stats 2013)
  • Social networks account for 20% of time spent online (Bufferapp Blog 2013)
  • 65% of Internet users have a presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (Internet World Stats 2013)
  • Whilst men make up a larger proportion of the online population, women are 30% more active across time spent, posting, clicking and overall engagement with content online (Bufferapp Blog 2013)
  • 37% of social media users checking their networks first thing in the morning and 42% just before bed (Internet World Stats 2013)

On the other hand, older people who are less familiar with the digital world cannot understand this “obsession” – that’s what they call it, and they usually ask themselves:

Why should anyone want to share his life with strangers online?
What’s the motive for sharing online even to friends?

Psychology is interested in finding answers to questions like those older people pose for this modern and digital behavior. So this an article which gives simple answers to simple question about today’s digital status quo.

We participate at social media in order to…..

1. convey our identity
Perhaps one of the strongest forces driving our motivation to share is based on our sense of identity — more specifically, the desired version of ourselves that we want to project onto the world.
In a social-media study conducted by The New York Times, 68% of respondents said they share in order to give people a better sense of who they are and what they are all about. The psychologist Carl Rogers provided a possible explanation for this, arguing that our personalities are composed of a “Real Self” (the one who we really are), and another one – the “Ideal Self” (the one we want to be). According to Rogers, we are constantly motivated to pursue behaviors that bring us closer to our Ideal Self. On this basis, the content that we share could be seen as a reflection of the person we want the world to see.

2. nurture relationships
As Aristotle said “Man is by nature a social animal” and that is why we are naturally inclined to form and maintain social relationships. Additionally, one has to think about the inner desire to maintain and enrich these relationships. After all given the busy nature of our lives and the limited time we have to socialize, social media provide an easy and convenient way to stay in touch with friends.
But online sharing does not concern only information of ourselves. We often find information that may interest someone we know, so we share with them online. A job offer, a recipe, a political article, entertainment etc are more often the content people share to friends.

3. due to an incentive / motive
As shallow as it may sound, sometimes we simply share content because we have something to make out of it. For example, we may “like” a page or “share” a post purely to gain ourselves a discount or to enter a competition. Another study shows that 67% of users who “liked” a brand page on Facebook did so simply to become eligible for special offers.

4. feel we belong
Peers and groups we share tend to gain more and more power over us, since they grant us with the social validation and a greater sense of connectedness.
Researchers found that we are motivated to share content online in order to feel a sense of belonging. A study conducted by the University of Queensland reported significant negative effects on self-esteem and sense of well-being of the participants, just because they were receiving absolutely no response or feedback for their actions made on a digital platform specifically designed for this survey. Every comment was left unanswered, and every shared post devoid of any “likes”.

5. advocate great content
We all appreciate really great content and sometimes we want to share it in order to bring value to others. In fact, in a New York Times study, 94% of respondents said they really care whether the information they share is considered to be important to others.
This “information” may be a video, a post, an article, an inspirational quote, a recipe or anything at all. Our goal may be to inform, to entertain, to inspire, to make someone think etc

6. express feelings
Last but not least, people share because “Sharing means Caring”. We care for others and we want others care for us. Almost 25% of social media users admit to practically share “everything” online and a significant 80% of those announce their own immediate experiences.
Every age demographic, from those younger than 35, to those older than 50, shares something. Others share to give a better understanding of what they care about, others share information because it helps them to feel more involved in the world and others share because it’s a way to support causes and issues they care about. As simple as that…

To sum up, people have a lot of reasons for sharing. Developing an understanding of how and why people do this daily will make your job easier too. Appealing content, smart incentives, a good action plan and implementation will definitely make you more effective, will give you wider reach and engagement and of course a more live audience.