Social media users receive a hit of neurotransmitter dopamine when they share content online and the act of sharing triggers their “ultimate moment of openness”, according to neuromarketing research released today.
The research, conducted in part by RadiumOne, claims the psychological effects of sharing content on social networks is therefore the optimum moment for marketers to convey their message.
The study asserts people share things on social media because it provides the same release of dopamine that normally is associated with other pleasurable experiences such as sex, exercise and eating.
Targeting marketing at this point should therefore be the goal for businesses, the research suggests, because this is the moment consumers are the most susceptible to advertising.
The study cites the example of Uber’s promotion of National Cat Day in February this year, when it invited customers to order a ‘kitten car’ through the app and then a kitten from a local animal shelter would arrive at the customer’s door.
The resulting attachment between kitten and potential owner experienced by the Uber customer was seen to increase the likelihood of successful adoption, the research says.
“What this tells us is that taking a first step – regardless of how small it might be – will create an affinity with the event, brand or activity,” the researchers said.
“Sharing content is a ‘small step’. It costs the consumer nothing, triggers a dopamine release and offers another dopamine hit when somebody responds in a positive way.
“At the same time, the act of sharing makes the consumer more receptive to taking a bigger step, namely to purchase a brand’s product or service.”
Janey Paton, director of marketing and public relations firm Belles and Whistles, told SmartCompany while the research is interesting, she warns small businesses from getting too “overwhelmed” by it.
“This is really exciting, this research is very interesting but also incredibly complex,” she says.
“For a small business, it’s fantastic to have access to this sort of information but important not to get overwhelmed by it.”
“They may read this and think ‘where do I start’.”
Paton says the research points back to the basic principal of taking time to get to know your target market and getting to know not just the basic demographic but their routines on social media.
“It’s important to connect with them in a meaningful way,” she says.
“We know consumers are all about instant gratification; it’s no longer 9-5, consumers are always on.”
“Social media allows you to gain incredibly rich insight into your target market.”
Paton says any business not on social media is conceding ground.
“Be aware social isn’t going anywhere,” she says.
“But if you’re not there, then competitors are likely to be, so it’s important to have a social media presence. “
Paton says the report’s findings were “not surprising” but added to research on the topic.
“It takes it to a greater depth in terms of understanding the drivers behind why people post on social media,” she says.
“It’s confirming for marketers their understanding of social media and validates the important of having a relevant message at the right time.”
“Social media allows you to monitor that and constantly review and refine your marketing messages.”