Twitter’s New “Like” Feature and Behavioral Economics
If you are a regular Twitter user you might have noticed something a little different today when you “liked” a tweet.
Usually when Twitter users “like” a tweet, there is the lackluster effect of the little white heart that is outlined in black turning a generic red hue.
Today, however, when a tweet was ‘liked’ there was a little explosion of colors before the ‘like heart’ returned its normal red.
I noticed this new feature at noon and I was little taken aback, but by nightfall I had grown addicted to pressing the ‘like’ button just for the color show.
Why would a usually reasonable person be reduced to a tweet liking fool, because of digtial confetti? The answer is two-fold: damn good marketing by Twittter and behavioral economics by psycology.
Behavioral economics is the combined study of psycology and economics seeking to undertand why humans behave has they do when they consume.
Because of behavioral economics, we know three things are true: humans generally consume things that they feel are rewarding immediately and companies know this afformentioned fact and use it to their advantage.
Humans enjoy things that make them feel good- if it elevates the heartbeat, triggers endorphins, or releases serotonin, we want it. It is the pleasure principle in fun effect.
Studies have shown that primates will do just about anything for a shot of fruit juice or a blast of warm heat because that stimuli is neurochemically rewarding for them.
Similarly, humans enjoy products that feature light and sound because we find that stimuli to be rewarding.
This is why you many retailers feature ‘bluelight special’ sales, why casinos and gaming machines are created with bright colors, light, and sounds, and why this hoilday season every mall will be decked in christmas lights and hoilday music.
These tactics make people consume more, because chemically our brains find all this stimulation rewarding.
This should allow you to understand Twitter’s marketing scheme- if users feel rewarded by an explosion of colors when they ‘like’ a tweet, they will probably ‘like’ more tweets in order to experince that sweet chemical high repeatedly.
Watch out! If you are more likely to ‘like’ more tweets, because you feel rewarded, then you are also more likely to stay on Twitter longer.
Also ‘liking’ more tweets helps Twitter build a proflie on your habits. Yes, you read correctly. All social media outlets are buliding profiles on their users based on their ‘likes’.
Social media sites sale your private information to the highest bidder so that companies will know exactly what products to pitch to you and sites like Twitter can allegedly “customize’ your user experince.
Take me for an example : on Twitter I ‘like’ and share lots of articles from The New York Times- Health page. Look below:
Here are three suggestions of health news pages I should follow, based on my personal ‘likes’.
Think About It
Have fun on social media, I sure do, but remember that any new feature social companies provide are created for a reason and that reason is usually for the best intersest of their pockets and not their users.