Social Media’s “Validation Culture”
October 04, 2012
I was a psychology major for my first two years in undergrad. And while I’m no expert on the DSM-IV, I’ve studied up on social psychology. Unsurprisingly, social media amplifies a lot of the things people do in real life. However, there’s one thing...
Social media fosters a “validation culture.” So, how do you work it to your advantage as a brand?
- Create content that generates discussion
- Provide your audience with relevant value
- Make your audience look cool to their audience
People divulge juicy information about bad days, great dates, and everything in between online because they want other people to recognize them by commenting, liking, retweeting, etc. In fact, research shows that people who are more inclined to feeling vs. thinking (according to Jung’s personality research) are more likely to engage in certain activities on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Create content that generates discussion. Just as your friend likes to whip out his infamously funny one-liners at happy hour, your social audience likes to contribute funny, meaningful, or smart tidbits to discussions where they’ll be seen, and hopefully recognized by their peers.
Social media – and technology in general – has also created the perceived need for constant access to information. Validating that need is simple: understand what your audience wants, and how they want it. Create and curate content that makes your audience feel empowered, smart, and motivated. Tell your audience (read: customers and clients) how your product or promotion is going to add value to their lives. Don’t make your audience work for it; keep it short and sweet for best results.
The biggest commonality shared content has is that it positions the person who shared it in a certain light: news can make someone look smart, a meme can make someone look funny, and information on a cool new app can make someone look like a trendsetter. By doing the heavy lifting with your content, you can help the people in your audience stand out to their audience. Sure, many times people post things simply because they like them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also looking for a reaction.
Making sense of your social media audience is as straightforward as understanding what makes them tick – both as fans of your brand, and as human beings. Understand them, relate to them with quality content, and you’ll be in good shape.