The Psychology Behind Social Media: Why We Relate to Brands More Than People

The Psychology Behind Social Media: Why We Relate to Brands More Than People

The creation of a brand has become a difficult task in the age of Facebook and YouTube. This was not the intended outcome of the situation. Most businesses were announcing the beginning of a new golden age of branding a decade ago. They employed hordes of technicians and creative agencies to bury companies throughout the digital sphere. Buzzwords like “viral,” “memes,” “stickiness,” and “form factor” have become synonymous with branding. However, despite all the fanfare, these initiatives have yielded relatively few results. Companies placed big wagers on what is frequently referred to as branded content as a key component of their digital strategies. The idea was that social media would enable your business to bypass traditional media and develop relationships with clients directly. Your brand would develop into the center of a clientele if you engaged them in real-time and told them wonderful stories. To achieve this ambition, businesses have invested billions.

However, very few firms have successfully sparked online customer interest. In reality, it appears that social media has diminished the importance of brands. Why did everything go wrong? We must keep in mind that brands win when they penetrate culture to overcome this puzzle. And a series of strategies called branding is meant to create cultural relevance. Along with powerful new social networks, digital technology has fundamentally changed how culture functions. Today’s digital crowds are incredibly successful and prolific culture innovators—a phenomenon I call crowd culture. The rules of branding—which methods are effective and which are not—are altered by crowd culture. Understanding crowd culture will help us understand why branded content initiatives have failed and what new branding strategies social media has made possible.

Emotions: at the core of deciding on a brand

You may believe that you selected your toothpaste brand because it offers the best value or is the most effective at avoiding cavities. But even if you weren’t aware of it, feelings probably played a role in your choice.

Evidence reveals that feelings may have a greater impact on our purchasing decisions than we’d like to admit. Consumer psychologist Peter Noel Murray in New York claims that fMRIs demonstrate that customers judge brands mostly based on emotions rather than knowledge or facts about the brand. Their research confirms the findings of the study cited in the introduction, showing that a consumer’s emotional reaction to a brand’s advertisement has a much bigger impact on their reported buying intent for a product than the actual product itself. Interestingly, print ads outnumber TV commercials by a ratio of 2-to-1 and 3-to-1, respectively.

Sources of preference for brand information

According to research, customers are increasingly expressing their brand devotion on social media, and many of them are looking to get paid by companies to help them market their goods. At least 41% of people who post their brand experiences on social media do so to get discounts. Results from Nielsen’s Global Online Survey show that two out of three respondents indicated they were either very or moderately influenced by advertising in a social context. Social media users are likely to accept the advice of their friends and family while investigating items. 

Why do customers share their business impressions?

The desire of consumers to serve as brand ambassadors and supporters on social media, on the other hand, is an intriguing trend. 53% of social media users who are active follow brands. A majority of customers who post product evaluations online claim they do it to “give acknowledgment for a job well done” by the business. These firms are increasingly enlisting the help of their fans and followers to spread the word about their goods and services. The majority of 18 to 34-year-olds who use social media say they want to make suggestions for product improvements, and the other two-thirds want to have their items customized. This indicates that social media users are also interested in working with their favorite brands.

Considering the abundance of bogus news and contentious topics on social media, consumer trust has become a challenging problem for mobile marketers. According to research by the U.K. consumer watchdog Which?, which claimed this week to have discovered thousands of bogus customer reviews of obscure tech products sold on Amazon, even user ratings on e-commerce sites have become questionable. For advertisers who don’t want to appear to be supporting offensive speech and imagery, brand protection is a top priority. Major advertisers have stopped using social media companies that have loose standards for content vetting. 

According to Olapic’s study of social media users, people are more likely to believe messages made by actual people than by brands. This means that to connect with today’s jaded consumers, marketers must emphasize the genuineness of their businesses. The results are consistent with earlier studies showing how consumers want brands to pressure social media companies to act more ethically. According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer research, 71% of digital consumers believe brands should exert greater pressure on social media platforms to protect their data and 70% believe brands should do more to combat the spread of inaccurate information on those platforms.

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