In his book “Monkeyluv : And Other Essays on Our Lives as Animals” (Scribner, 2005), Robert Sapolsky explains how it is that gambling is so addictive. Surprisingly, its not the winning part of the process – but the anticipation of winning. Brain waves go wild. And if the odds of winning are closer to 50/50, the wilder the anticipation brain waves. If the odds are too stacked against you, the anticipation factor is diminished.
OK, so how is it that Facebook and Twitter are SO addictive to so many of our milieu? Whats the anticipation of pay-off. Perhaps my wall on Facebook today is an example. Its my birthday, and I’m getting loads of well-wishes. Talk about pay-off! In Twitter, perhaps the pay-off is getting retweeted? Maybe its enough payoff to be spoken to, to have your existence aknowledged. Now, I might be a bit of a nerd-geek, but I’m not that desperate for attention, and I doubt if the nerd/geeks I consort with are that desperate!
Perhaps the pay-offs in social media are the interactions. Lets call them “chits”. We give chits AND receive them. It would be interesting if Mr. Sapolsky or one of those other scientists with very expensive equipment would check that out. If we marketers knew a bit more about those pay-offs, we might be able to create interactions that were more satisfying to our community.
By the way, check out the book Buyology to learn how marketers HAVE hooked people up to the MRI’s and Catscans to learn about the effectiveness of advertising.