Ep 29: Psychology of Social Media: User Behavior and Trends


Today we are talking about the Psychology of Social Media: User Behavior and Trends. As you all know, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, billions of people use various platforms to communicate, connect, and share content every day, every minute of the day really if you think about it. However, as the popularity of social media continues to grow, so does the importance of understanding the psychology behind user behavior and trends. We will be discussing and exploring the psychology of social media, and I’ll be providing you with details and examples of how it affects users and showing you how you and your business can turn these observations into a positive impact in your marketing plan currently.

As we know, the rise of social media has changed the way we communicate, interact, and consume information and according to a report by Hootsuite, there are now 4.74 billion active social media users worldwide. Think about it we’re on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, I am very guilty of TikTok, I’m on TikTok a lot although WhatsApp, I don’t know it’s a form of communication, there’s plenty of platforms out there and new ones popping up every day. With the average user spending 2 hours and 28 minutes per day on social media platforms, this immense amount of time spent on social media has piqued the interest of psychologists who are studying the psychological effect of social media use on individuals and society as a whole. If you think about it, spending that much time on social media, what effect does it have on us? I think it’s important to know as a consumer, as well as a business owner, where in this day and age, you kind of have to utilize these platforms to market to your customers.

The first topic we’ll talk about today is the Social Comparison Theory. The Social Comparison theory is one of the most influential theories in social media psychology, it suggests that individuals evaluate themselves based on comparisons with others. In the context of social media, pretty much users compare themselves with their friends and acquaintances, even celebrities and influencers, this comparison can lead to feelings of envy, low self-esteem, and depression. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that participants who used Facebook more often reported lower levels of well-being, life satisfaction, and happiness.

Just think about your life, in this day and age we’re spending even more time than we were like five years ago. Ask yourself, how do you feel after you use social media and these social media platforms? How do you feel after a significant amount of time on them? Do you notice a change?

For businesses, understanding the social comparison theory is essential for creating effective social media marketing strategies to promote positive self-comparison among users, businesses can create content that emphasizes inclusivity and diversity. With social media, we are already feeling terrible about ourselves of this feeling of comparison. As an example, a beauty brand can create content featuring people of different skin tones and body types to promote body positivity and self-love. Businesses need to be mindful of the potential negative effects of social media on their audience. By creating a safe and supportive social media environment, businesses can help users feel more comfortable engaging with their brand, which can lead to increased engagement, loyalty, and ultimately sales.

Rihanna’s makeup brand Fenty is a prime example of this, before she created this beauty brand, there was a gap in the market, people with darker skin tones weren’t able to buy makeup, and makeup they were able to buy didn’t match them at all. That’s not inclusive at all, so when Rihanna came out with a line that included so many ranges of skin colors and different skin tones people were able to see themselves in the product, see themselves in her campaign, see themselves in her brand, and that is inclusivity. But in hindsight, it also led to increased engagement, increased loyalty, and an increase in sales.

  1. The first tip we have is to Promote Diversity and Inclusivity. To promote positive soft comparisons, businesses can create social media content that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. This can include featuring people of different races, genders, different body types, and ages in their posts. By doing this, businesses can help their audience feel more represented and accepted, and reduce the negative effects of social comparison. Another example is a clothing brand that could feature models of different sizes, ethnicities, and ages in its campaigns, promoting body positivity and inclusivity. Rihanna once again did this, at one point in the market other fashion shows showed women with a certain body type, but Rihanna came in and started designing lingerie for women of all body shapes, and featured this in her marketing campaigns and in designing these products, she specifically made them for women of all shapes, of all sizes, which made her extremely successful people were able to see themselves in her brand once again.
  2. The second tip is to Highlight Customer Success Stories. Sharing customer success stories is a great way to inspire and motivate others, and by showcasing the achievements of their customers, businesses can promote positive self-comparison and encourage their audience to take action. For example, a fitness brand could share stories of customers who have achieved their fitness goals, encouraging others to take similar steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I know when I’m scrolling through Instagram or when I’m on social media and I see people having fun being active makes me wanna do it too, and seeing someone’s fitness progress or fitness journey, and seeing them being so confident in themselves and their body and loving the ability that their body has now of being strong and confident, I know that’s inspiring for me.
  3. The third tip is to Use Social Proof. Social proof is a powerful motivator that can help build trust and encourage potential customers to try a product or service, by sharing positive reviews and testimonials on social media businesses can use social comparison theory to their advantage. When users see others using and enjoying a product or service, they are more likely to feel positive about it themselves, very similar to highlighting customer success stories. By providing this social proof, people can see themselves in these other people.
  4. Number four is Encourage Self-love. This is a great way to combat the negative effects of social comparison by sharing positive affirmations, inspirational quotes, and messages of self-love on social media. Businesses can help their audience feel more confident and positive about themselves, I know that’s true for me, like when I’m on Instagram or TikTok and a brand or business shares something extremely positive, it puts a smile on my face and you remember that.
  5. The fifth tip we have today is to Use Humor. Humor is a great way to create an engaging and fun social media presence that promotes positivity by sharing funny memes, videos, and jokes that celebrate diversity and promote self-love, businesses can create a positive and uplifting atmosphere on their social media channels. I know this is true especially on Twitter, if the funnier you are the more retweets you get, the more likes you get. Even on TikTok, when companies are funny, people want to engage with you, and people will like to laugh. By using the social comparison theory positively, businesses can create a social media presence that promotes positivity, self-love, and inclusivity by featuring diverse individuals sharing stories using social proof, encouraging self-love and humor.

All right, the next point we’ll be talking about today is the Power of Likes and Comments. We all know that likes and comments are powerful motivators on social media that can impact how users feel about themselves and their behavior on the platform. But we also know that likes and comments are also a very important part of engagement especially in social media marketing, as you post various types of content, receiving these likes and comments is very important, the more likes and comments show the more interest in a certain type of content, it’s an indicator, but these likes and comments for the individual user can also be very draining, be very heavy.

A study by the University of California found that receiving likes on a post triggered the brain’s reward center to release dopamine, the feel-good hormone. So when someone doesn’t receive that many likes and comments, that person might feel bad about themselves. Businesses can feel this way too, like I put all this work into these posts, why am I not getting likes and comments? Although sometimes it’s not just that, there are a lot of things that go into making successful social media content, but businesses can leverage the power of likes and comments and create engaging social media content. By creating posts and encouraging users to interact with their brand, businesses can foster a sense of community and connection.

  1. Our first tip is to Ask for Feedback. One way to encourage comments and engagement on social media posts and content is by asking for feedback from users. By creating posts that ask for opinions or suggestions, businesses can encourage users to leave comments and engage with their content. For example, a fashion brand could create a post asking users to share their favorite fashion trends for the upcoming season, encouraging comments and engagement. Make sure to ask a question at the end of your caption, ask an engaging question and ask for feedback and try and foster a community in your comments.
  2. Second tip is to Run a Contest. Another way to encourage likes and comments is by running contests or giveaways, by offering a prize or incentive for users who engage with your content businesses can encourage users to leave comments, tag friends, and share their content. I’ve seen this on social media, done time and time again, and people love giveaways, people love free stuff, and by a company doing a giveaway for one of your products, the user might need to like, be followed already, follow a few other accounts, and tag some of your friends and then repost it on your story and make sure that we are tagged. These are all ways to engage with the post with some content online. By running contests, you are encouraging users to follow you and like your content and when users share this contest with their friends, this also gives you and your brand more exposure.
  3. Third tip is Sharing User Generated Content. User-generated content or UGC is content that is created by users, this user might create a product video or a product TikTok, and by sharing this you’re not only getting more marketing for your own business, but now you have this beautiful content that was created for you. When someone loves something, you can tell even through video. So by sharing posts from satisfied customers, businesses can show their appreciation for their followers and encourage others to share their experiences as well, people love seeing their posts being reposted. Another example is a fitness brand, they could share a post from a satisfied customer who maybe achieved their fitness goals using their workout plan, or using having a membership to their gym, or being in a certain class. Sharing this post could encourage others to share their success stories as well.
  4. Fourth tip is to Create Visually Appealing Content. Creating visually appealing content is another way to encourage likes and engagement on social media, by creating posts that are visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing, businesses can capture the attention of their followers and encourage them to engage with their content. I know when I see a brand that I love and I go on their social media and it’s not as up to date or they don’t post regularly, or their product is not following their branding, it is a little bit disappointing. I love to see brands being active on social media and showing their customers some products that they sell it gets the customer excited about your product.
  5. The fifth tip is to Respond to Comments. Responding to comments is another way to encourage engagement on social media by responding and engaging with your followers, your businesses can create a sense of community and encourage others to engage with their content by creating a community in your comments. For example, a restaurant could respond to a comment from a satisfied customer, thanking them for their feedback, and encouraging others to share their dining experiences as well. People love hearing back, especially on social media from brands that they love.

So to wrap things up, social media is an integral part of our daily lives, and the psychology behind user behavior and trends are crucial to understanding how it affects us and how marketers and business owners can positively use these to promote their business. As social media continues to evolve, it’s essential to continue setting its psychological effects and understanding how we can use it positively and healthily. I encourage you to use one of these examples this week.

Thank you so much for tuning in today. I hope you got something out of this and I can’t wait to hear how your marketing endeavors are going.