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Currency of social networks. The role of “likes” according to science: a guide for marketers and just “daffodils”

Today, any user of social networks is his own marketer. He can promote himself in VK or Inst as a tough fisherman or the best wife in the world. He can position himself on Facebook as an intellectual who even sings about the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in his soul. The main marketer of the success of self-promotion of the “social network”, the human marketer intuitively considers “likes”. And he’s damn right! But let’s understand – why?

Likes are somewhat mysterious, even for SMM professionals. In fact, we know only one thing about them: organically (and not wound up), an uploaded post receives more coverage in social networks – this is how smart tape algorithms work.

This knowledge is enough for many. But I want to understand the underlying mechanisms, since we all work in the “economy of attention” and want to earn more by straining less. So let’s dig in earnest. So…

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Likes are money

In the 2010s, the phenomenon of “likes” finally began to be studied intently. Up to the point that experimental people began to shove them into the tomograph and ask them to interact with social networks in the usual mode.

Observing the activity of the subjects’ brains while they like and receive likes, the researchers noticed that the departments responsible for the so-called primary and secondary reinforcement (reward) are involved in these processes.

Primary is a reward that is physical. In response to the correct behavior from the point of view of evolution, a person receives a “reward” in the form of the allocation in the brain of a whole cocktail of special substances that bring a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Primary incentives for reward are, for example, food, water, physical comfort, and sex. The reward itself when receiving these incentives is chemical.
Secondary reinforcement occurs when there are any incentives that are associated with the primary. The objects of secondary reinforcement can be: money, attention, affection, good grades in school, etc.
Brain responses to monetary rewards have been investigated since about 2000. Money, as an instrument of experimentation, was good because it had a relatively “objective” value.

In 2008, the Japanese scientist K. Izuma, as part of a group of co-authors, for the first time proved that social rewards – obtaining benefits from social reputation – activate the same areas of the brain that are excited when receiving monetary rewards.

Since then, this result has been obtained many times by other research teams and in other experimental conditions.

Funny coincidence: the publication of the Izuma study almost coincided with the appearance of the first “like” on the Internet. The original “Like” (like) feature was launched on FriendFeed, a small social network, several months earlier than Izuma announced its work. By the way, this network was later bought by Facebook.

Likes, like money, have discrete nature (they can be considered) and represent relatively “objective” value. In any case, for the human mind.

That is, when receiving “likes”, the self-marketer in social networks feels as if he is receiving money.

“Likes” is a social “currency”
“We have cool hats. That’s what it means to collect the most likes. ”
“We have cool hats. That’s what it means to collect the most likes. ”
Again we have an association with money, but this time the view is from the side. Unlike money, which is slightly abstract and, in principle, can be packed in safes alone, “likes” are clearly social in nature. In 2009, anthropologists (in particular P. Adolfs and R.A. Dunbar) put forward a hypothesis that the evolutionary history of the brain of primates and especially the human brain is directly related to the increasing importance of social interaction and group membership.

Simply put, heartless evolution forced the human brain to develop in such a way that it was good at managing complex social relationships. But how does evolution make you? Of course, with chemical handouts and a chemical whip – a feeling of pleasure if you communicate well with your environment, and a sense of fear and anxiety if you communicate poorly.

The authors of the study “What the brain loves: neural feedback correlates in social networks”, which we referred to at the very beginning, say: “like” is a new phenomenon and a new “concept”, but it reflects a rather ancient human need.

And this need consists in joining a group of their own kind, in gaining recognition in the group and in occupying a high place in the group hierarchy.

Hence the conclusion: when a person or business chases likes in social networks, in fact, he strives to take a strong and profitable place in society.

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