Monday, July 04, 2011

Secret of Facebook's success revealed

Sharing gossip with friends is 'addictive and arousing'
The reason for Facebook's phenomenal success has finally been revealed. The social network's 500million or so users are 'aroused' and become addicted to sharing stories and gossip, a psychologist has claimed.
Addicted: Sharing stories and gossip on Facebook makes users 'aroused' and encourages them to express this to their friends, a new study has claimed
American scientist Jonah Berger's says Facebook evokes powerful emotions like happiness and laughter or even anger, which increases the chance of people sharing these feelings with friends online.
The incredible success of the social networking site, and others like Twitter, is down to the fact they tap directly into the human psyche.
Dr Berger believes his study will help businesses and others to understand how to use it to their advantage. 'If something makes you angry as opposed to sad, for example, you're more likely to share it with your family and friends because you're fired up,' he said.
'In trying to understand why, it seemed like arousal might be a key factor.' Dr Berger, of the University of Pennsylvania, carried out two different experiments to test his theory that arousal promotes information sharing.
In one experiment, which focused on specific emotions, 93 students completed what they were told were two unrelated studies. First students in different groups watched video clips that made them feel high arousal emotions like being anxious or amused or low arousal emotions like being sad or content.
Afterwards, they were shown an emotionally neutral article and video and asked how willing they would be to share it with friends and family members.
The results demonstrated that students who felt high arousal emotions were much more inclined to share with others. The second experiment dealt with arousal more generally. Around 40 students were asked to complete what they assumed were two unrelated studies.
First, they either sat still or jogged on the spot for about a minute - a task proven to increase arousal.
Then they were asked to read a neutral online news article and told they could e-mail it to anyone they wanted.
The findings showed that students who jogged in place and were aroused were more likely to e-mail the article to their friends and family, as opposed to the students that just sat still.
'There is so much interest in Facebook, Twitter, and other types or social media today, but for companies and organisations to use these technologies effectively they need to understand why people talk about and share certain things, he said.
'In a prior paper, we found that emotion plays a big role in which New York Times articles make the most emailed list.
'But interestingly we found that while articles evoking more positive emotions were generally more viral, some negative emotions like anxiety and anger actually increased transmission while others like sadness decreased it.'
© Daily Mail, London / ST