Social Media and the Science Behind it.

One of the greatest things about social media is that it is still a fresh, exciting and young form of communication. Every day there are new studies being conducted and research being carried out on how social media is forming our identities as well as influencing the way in which we relate to one another. New apps are being created with new ways to connect and share our everyday lives. The following are some major findings of social media science studies that offer advice on the way you approach your marketing.

How social media makes emotions infectious

Empathy allows us to understand and share the feelings of another person. We are all aware that emotions can be transferred when interacting with someone at a human level. However, little was known about whether or not emotions could be shared in a similar manner online.The School of Medicine from the University of California used software to conduct a study over 2 years, inspecting the emotional content of one billion Facebook posts. The study particularly concentrated on rainy days, when the probability of negative posts was generally higher.The study used weather records and was able to show that the negative emotions which people were expressing via Facebook posts on rainy days, were conveying through their network of friends. This resulted in people who are living in places where it was not raining, reading and empathising with the negative posts. To summarise, the study showed that what people feel and say in one place, may spread to many parts of the world on the very same day.Another recent study conducted by Facebook, confirmed this conclusion. They found that even though they were focusing on negative emotions being contagious, positive emotions are far more contagious.“Intriguingly, although rain is the impetus for this contagion, positive messages appear to be more contagious than negative.”The research results showed that positive posts prompted an average of 1.75 more positive posts from friends of the author, whereas negative posts only prompted 1.29 more posts.From a marketer's perspective, you should keep your social media posts positive and therefore keep your customers happy. Always be sure to respond to negative feedback quickly in order to prevent it from spreading throughout your audience.

Receiving social feedback leads to a greater sense of belonging

A study, which was carried out by Dr Stephanie Tobin of The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, found that regular use of social media gives users a greater sense of connectedness.The researchers who conducted the study focused on a group of Facebook users of who post frequently. Half of the users were told to remain active and the other half were asked to just observe their friends who were still active.When the study had finished, those who had not been posting expressed that the experience had a negative effect on their own personal well-being.Stephanie Tobin wrote“Social networking sites such as Facebook, which has more than a billion users a month, give people immediate reminders of their social relationships and allow them to communicate with others whenever they want”An additional study allowed participants to post on social media but made sure that they would not receive any feedback or responses. The participants of this study again felt negative effects on their well being and self esteem.From a marketing perspective, it’s useful to remember that social media users crave feedback and responses. Brands should allocate some time to respond to customer’s casual posts and join in on relevant conversations where you can add value, opinions or fun. Give thought to reply to your customer’s tweets, as opposed to just favouriting or retweeting. A personalised response can really boost a customer’s opinion of a brand. 30 minutes once a week can be enough, at Airship we recommend 15 minutes a day.

Everyone has composed a post, doubted it, then deleted it.

The majority of us know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that slightly uncomfortable feeling right before you publish something new to the world. On occasion, that feeling can lead us to a creative breakthrough, whereas other times it can cause us to completely change our minds. In order to discover more about how this feeling affects the way we post on social media, two researchers at Facebook conducted a study on the posts which you write, but never actually publish; “Self Censorship”.The study was carried out over 17 days and focused on the activity of 3.9 millions users. The results showed that 71% of users had typed out at least one comment or status and then decided against submitting it. On average, each user changed their mind on 3.2 comments and 4.52 statuses.The researchers suggested that people are more likely to second guess and self-censor their posts when they feel that their audience is difficult to define. Facebook audiences are usually rather diverse, therefore making it difficult to appeal to everyone. Users also tend to be less likely to censor their comments on a friend’s post due to the audience being far more identifiable. Meaning they feel they are talking to an audience that understands them instead of the wider public.All marketers want to know their audience so they can communicate with them more effectively. It’s useful to remember that just because you don’t always hear from your audience, it does not mean that they are not listening. Keep messages positive and interact as much as possible with your online fans. Social media science will continue to evolve as the range of ways we can connect online expands.