Why do we like, comment and share while using social media? Why do millions of people do these activities on a daily basis?  What drives some people to even become addicted to social media?

Many studies have been performed to figure out why we do what we do on one of the most popular social media platforms, Facebook.

The first reason for liking is that clicking that button seems to act as a currency that makes us all feel more involved. Facebook knows this quite well and up until recently, they cashed-in on what you and I “like” by sending data to advertisers.

Reasons We Use Facebook

  1. Using Facebook makes us happy.  This is confirmed by pupil dilation in studies where people use Facebook.
  2. Elan Morgan’s 2-week experiment demonstrated it’s a quick and easy way to show we approve a post, picture, or video.
  3. According to Medical News Today, positive feedback from Facebook is seen as ‘reward’. It always feel good to receive multiple likes or comments from your peers.
  4. We reveal something about ourselves the more we use Facebook more.  A  study by PNAS.org of more than 58,000 people showed, that based on  someone’s likes, you can figure out whether that person is:
    • White or African American with 95% accuracy.
    • Gay or Straight with 88% accuracy.
    • Democrat or Republican with 85% accuracy.
    • Male or Female with 93% accuracy.
    • Age with 75% accuracy.
  5. A study from the Psychology Today has shown to us that within the digital world, when we use social networks such as Facebook to chat or comment, that users generally felt more empathy towards friends. The simple act of liking and interacting with your peers online induces a sense of belonging and happiness.
  6. Because we get something out of it.  A Syncapse study found that a vast majority of people within the study tend to make these decisions based on understandable reasons.  Here’s what has been found:
    • 49% support the brand they like
    • 42% get a coupon or discount
    • 41% receive regular updates from brands they like
    • 35% participate in contests
    • 31% share personal good experiences
    • 27% share interests/lifestyle with others
    • 21% research brands when looking for specific products/services
    • 20% see friends that have already “liked” or are a “fan”
    • 18% a brand advertisement (tv, online, magazine)
    • 15% recommended to fan the brand

The Why of Commenting

Everyone has something to say and it’s more satisfying to comment or receive comments compared to likes.

Research by Molra Burke, who studied 1,200 Facebook users, found that personal messages are more satisfying to receivers than the one-click communication style that “likes” possess.

Burke says, “People who received composed communication became less lonely, while people who received one-click communication experienced no change in loneliness,” she said. Even better than sending a private Facebook message is the semi-public conversation, the kind of back-and-forth in which you half ignore the other people who may be listening in. “People whose friends write to them semi-publicly on Facebook experience decreases in loneliness.”

The Reason Why People Post Status Updates

This is how often people update their status on Facebook according to research done by  Pew Research

  • 10% of Facebook users change or update their own status on Facebook on a daily basis.
  • 4% update their status several times per day.
  • 25% of Facebook users say that they never change or update their own Facebook status.

The primary reason is that posting relieves loneliness.  A study found that when students updated their Facebook statuses more often, they reported lower levels of loneliness. We all want to be acknowledged and have the attention of someone, posting a status makes the endeavor of obtaining that attention far easier to obtain.

On the opposite side of the coin, we stop posting because of self-censorship. Researchers at Facebook conducted a study on self-censorship [that is, the posts you write and never actually publish,] and found out over the course of 17 days, while tracking 3.9 million users that 71% of users type out at least 1 status or comment and decide not to submit. On average, users change their mind about 4.52 statuses and 3.2 comments.  You can check out data charts for this over at BufferBlog.

Why We Share

A worldwide poll done by Ipsos offers some findings, noting that around the globe, people primarily:

  • share 61% interesting things.
  • 43% important things, funny things.
  • 37% let others know what they believe in and who they really are.
  • 30% recommend a product, service, movie, book, etc.
  • 29% add their support to a cause, an organization or a belief.
  • 26% share unique things.
  • 22% let others know what they’re doing.
  • 20% add to a thread or conversation. 10% show they’re in the know.

The New York Times did a spectacular study on why we share a few years ago that is informative on the topic of social media sharing. This study managed to identify five major factors for sharing:

  • To bring valuable and entertaining content to one another. 49% of respondents say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
  • To define ourselves to others.  68% of respondents said they share to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
  • To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% of respondents said they share information online because it enables them to stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
  • For self-fulfillment. 69% said they share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
  • To get the word out about causes they care about.  84% of respondents share because it is a good way to support causes or issues they care about.

Why do you like, comment, and share?

With all the science and research aside, why do you personally spend time on Facebook and other social networks liking, commenting, and sharing?  We’d love to know so post a comment below.


Feature photo credit: MkhMarketing