How Social Media Updating Affects The Brain

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There are many strategies out there today that could be deemed successful while others are definitely worth walking away from. The fact of the matter is, some of these strategies can change over time. People change, trends get better, the world turns. However, there is one aspect of your social marketing that always stays the same.

The human brain.

While we all look different on the outside, some better than others, we are all basically the same on the inside. This is the area I want to introduce to you today. In the months to come I will open up some ideas to you that will definitely get you thinking on how you ever lived without social media psychology in your updating on social media.

Be sure you subscribe to the updates on this blog so you won’t be left behind as we open up a new chapter in your social strategy.

Something Everyone Has … A Brain

While you may disagree with this point. Everyone has one. Not everyone uses it in the right way, but it’s still there taking up space. There is something of interest in everyone’s brain that you should know about, and it’s called the reticular formation.

I know what you’re thinking right now. What’s reticular formation got to do with my social marketing strategy? This is what’s going to drive traffic for you from social media!

Reticular Formation sits behind the hypothalamus and these are the things it controls:

Reticular Formation controls: somatic motor control, cardiovascular control and pain modulation, it controls sleep and consciousness, and finally, habituation.  Quote from Reticular Formation on the Wiki link above

While all of these are relatively known to all of us, the one that you may be scratching your head about, is the very thing I want to discuss with you today, and that is the function of Habituation.

What is Habituation?

For sake of a better example, this part of reticular formation distinguishes between the relevant and irrelevant things that surround you.  In other words, a man that has lived beside the railroad tracks all of his life goes to bed for the night.  After he is asleep, the 2am train comes blaring it’s horn by his house.  The man doesn’t wake up because habituation has conditioned his brain to consider this noise as irrelevant to his psyche and therefore he doesn’t wake up.  On another note, however, that same man could get in bed, fall asleep, and hear an unfamiliar “bump” in the living room that wakes him up.  Since this is an unfamiliar noise, habituation recognizes it as such and calls it relevant, therefore waking him up.

The Connection?

This same man probably has a social media account.  Nothing has changed inside his head, everything is still there, and reticular formation is still working properly.  But the only reason you haven’t targeted this man with your social media update is because he still sees your material as irrelevant.  Nothing you are doing or saying is “waking him up” to take notice of what you have to say.

That is what’s happening to people all across social media.  You may be the best writer known to man, giving out great information in your articles that can really help people.  But if you’ve just started, then it’s more than likely that you don’t have a lot of people paying attention to you on social media.  Your content is King, but only to you.  No one else understands how important it is yet and you need to get them to that point!

Communicating With Habituation

Whether you know it or not, you are using social media psychology in your updates. Everything you publish on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus has an outcome. Every update you write is creating some sort of emotion in the reader, even if it’s negative, you’re causing this to happen to people. Get a lot of +1’s on one update and you know that what you did was correct. Write another one and you don’t get but one or two and you know something you did affected them in a negative way. It’s not that your content inside your site was any worse, you’re still a great writer remember? It’s the simple fact that what you did or said in that particular update rubbed the reader the wrong way, and that’s what we need to fix.

Communication is the functionality of gaining someone’s attention through the right mediums. I will cover on this more next month, but here are some things you need to be working on when you post to social media:

  • Attention-getting updates:  What works best when you are posting to different social sites?  What can you do different?  Have you studied out some methods that some of the more popular people on these platforms are doing?
  • Having a posting strategy- whatever you do, don’t just throw up any old thing and hit “send”.  Too many times people think that the hard part is over when they publish their article on their site.  Once you step into the social media world, the work is just beginning.  Make your update count, make them remember who you are, make them take action!

What You Can Do Now

Post for your readers, not to them. These are social sites and they key word here is “social”. Don’t simply post your link and write “check this out” in the update description. Too many times have I seen that lonely post out there. I wonder how many people missed their opportunity to get help in that article simply because the user didn’t take the extra step to get someone’s attention?

Wade Harman
This monthly Social Media Psychology column is contributed by Wade Harman. Wade is a full time blogger and social media psychology expert. He earned a Cognitive Psychotherapy graduate degree in 2000, and he now uses that knowledge to research and develop social media strategies and methods that create action and emotion in the reader. Wade can show you how to spark an emotional reaction, get the reader's attention, and create action that drives traffic to your site through social media.
Wade Harman


Former Coal Miner Now Making A Go At #SocialMedia & #Blogging. Proud Dad of 2 Boys! Never A Dull Moment!
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Wade Harman


  1. says

    Even though its good advice for me to tell me readers to “check this out” and they’d probably become better bloggers for doing so, I am going to refrain from doing so. You’re right on the money Wade, there is a huge difference between dong social and being social and once we get into the groove and find and share and do so by promoting others vs. self, its amazing how fast and farther up the mountain we get!

    • says

      Lol, that’s funny Neil! It’s usually better to give the follower a little description. I have found that it’s a proven fact that images and dialogue work when posting to social media. Especially Google Plus. People over there seem to be more receptive in that way.

      There’s plenty of ways you can get their attention and these are some of them. You should check out my “How to create a CTA in your G+ update” on YouTube. That pretty much shows you everything I do in an update on G+.

  2. says

    Your concept is very interesting. There is so much noise out there it is very difficult to get through. Don’t you think the listener has been somewhat desensitized? And I would say if we use attention grabbing headlines then we need to deliver. Right? Thanks for a great post.
    Susan Fox

    • says

      I guess it depends on which social network you’re posting to. For me, everything you do on Twitter needs to be pointed towards the title, however as on Google Plus, you can elaborate a little more, use a large image to attract people to your posts. The title doesn’t really have to be number one concern on G+. While it is important, studies have shown that imagery is a great way to get people to react to your posts.

      On the other side of that coin, back to Twitter, we should take advantage of the images that we can use on Twitter, also the Twitter cards are a great way to provide better information to people. There’s just not a lot you can say in 145 characters so I think we should take advantage of the image route when we can.

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