Addicted To Social Media (& What It Means For Your Marketing) [Research]

5 Ways to Leverage Social Media’s Addictive Nature

Are you addicted to social media? Just think that addiction is related to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes? Examine this definition: An addiction is a compulsive activity that can’t be stopped at will and requires outside help to manage or overcome.

Recent research by University of Chicago Business School’s Assistant Professor Wilhelm Hofmann and colleagues found social media is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol (although it trails food, sleep and sex!) In Hoffman’s words, “Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist.” Further, the researchers found that resistance and self control break down later in the day which makes sense since you’re tired from the day’s activities.

Social media’s additive nature has been examined before. A Lightspeed-Oxygen Media poll found 40% of women were self professed Facebook addicts. (Here’s our analysis of the Facebook research.)

5 Ways to Take Advantage of Social Media’s Addictive Nature

As a marketer, what does social media’s addictive nature mean to your plans? You must think in terms of being a positive force on social media platforms while integrating your products and brands into the conversation. As an added reminder, don’t overlook the need to monitor the social media ecosystem for brand mentions and to have a crisis management plan ready! Here are five suggestions to help you.

  1. Feed the social media beast. To this end, know your prospects and customers, Create in-depth marketing personas to understand how they use social media, the platforms they frequent and the content they like to share. Then develop an editorial calendar based on this information to ensure your content supports their interests. Go beyond text, especially with the growth of Pinterest and Tumblr.
  2. Integrate your brand into content and photographs. Remember research has showed that social media does more to support branding than direct response. This means you’ve got to extend your branding beyond just a logo. To work effectively on social media platforms, your brand must be identifiable by its voice, colors, tone, use of language and other attributes. Also, bear in mind that your brand will appear on social media platforms without your knowledge or consent in people’s photographs and videos.
  3. Skip the promotional messages. The last thing social media participants want to see on their favorite sites is out right promotions and advertising. To increase the likelihood of sharing your content, skip the advertising and promotional speak. Don’t worry—when prospects are ready to buy they actively seek out discounts.
  4. Incorporate links to your website in your content to drive people. To support your products and brands, integrate links in your content. This works best when your content educates, entertains or helps customers use your product better such as recipes and patterns. Your goal is to not make the links to your site appear to be another form of advertising but rather to enhance your content offering.
  5. Make your content easily shareable. If your visitors have to work to share your content on their favorite social media sites, there’s a good chance it won’t get done. Simplify social sharing and commenting of your content, whether it’s on your owned media, social media or third party media. Go one step further and encourage readers to share by including a call-to-action. Also, don’t underestimate the popularity of email.

While you may not be able to control your prospects and customers’ addiction to social media, you can support their interactions with useful content that build your brand.

What’s your perspective on social media’s addictive qualities? What would you do to leverage them as a marketer?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Here are some related articles on social media that you may find of interest.

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