Understanding what motivates people to share on social media is an important part of social media marketing. Fortunately, it is actually possible to understand social media marketing as a science. It just takes knowing a bit of social media marketing psychology.

Social media can be a cost effective and affordable way for small businesses to stay in touch with customers, generate new leads, network and promote their business. Check out our blog for more information about what social media is and how it can help your business.

Emotional Involvement

Social media, like all forms of social interaction, is based primarily on emotion and some emotions are more important than others. Also, there is usually more than one emotion involved in any given share. There’s a tendency to confuse the surface emotion of a social media share with the actual motivation for sharing. This is because a share may have a particular emotion associated with it.  This emotion could be anger, happiness, sadness or pretty much anything else. However, these emotions aren’t the reason for sharing.

social media marketing and psychology

Even though the person sharing an item on social media is attempting to elicit some emotion in others, the real motivation for sharing is empathy. We are a social species and so we empathize with each other, at least most of the time.  Empathy is the ability to share in the emotions of others.  Ideally, empathy is feeling what the other person feels.  If the other person feels happy, then we feel happy too.  However, this is only half of the equation.

The other half is the desire to instill the emotions we feel in other people.  We don’t do this haphazardly, instead we tend to look for agreement first.  We want to know, or at least be confident, that there is potentially someone out there who can feel the way we feel.  We want to empathize with others and be empathized with.  This is so true that the majority of social media shares are things that most people would agree with.  They are likely to generate the same emotions from person to person.  This is why shares of puppies and kittens are so prevalent (and of course I couldn’t resist including super cute pics in this blog!)

cute puppy for social media share
cute kitten for social media share

Understand your audience

So, when it comes to social media marketing psychology, the point is to share what your audience is likely to agree with. What people can easily agree with. Keep your shares simple, use simple images and simple ideas.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that people are simple minded, it’s just that it’s easier to get agreement with simple concepts.

Also, it’s useful to determine what it is about your product or service that people have found helpful in the past and share that.  This can have two beneficial effects, the first is to encourage positive comments and reshares, the other is to create a positive image of your company.


Build Trust.

Social media marketing is about building trust, and honesty is the best way to build that trust.  If you make a mistake, admit it and correct it quickly.  And let people know in a positive way on social media that you have done so.  Remember, the idea of social media marketing psychology is to build empathy both with customers and with those who read your social media posts.  The more empathy you build up, the more likely it is that you will receive positive feedback on social media, thereby establishing the social proof that you are a company worth doing business with. Which will encourage more social media sharing in an expanding spiral.