The Psychology Of Social Media: Why We Like, Share & Comment

by Kaitlan Whitteberry on September 11, 2015

If you’ve ever taken a psychology class in college, you probably found it fascinating. What’s even more 41979482_thumbnailintriguing? Taking a peak into the psychology of our online interactions, specifically through social. The way we connect with the people and the world around us has changed dramatically since the start of the tech boom, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Understanding why people act the way that they do when using social can help you reach your audience more effectively. Here’s a look into the psychology of social media, and what it means for you as a professional.

Why People Like You Online

If your main goal is to raise your FM company’s online presence, likes and follows are probably important to you. The struggle is getting people to click that button. It seems simple, but in reality it’s not. It turns out, this is because in the real world, it’s difficult to make honest, meaningful connections too. It doesn’t happen with everyone you meet, you probably only have a few very close friends. So, why do people “like” you on Facebook or follow you on LinkedIn?

They like you or follow you for a variety of very human reasons:

  • They support the good work you are doing
  • You say interesting or helpful things
  • You are entertaining
  • They have a financial interest in you in some way
  • They want their friends to know they are connected to you

These are all very similar characteristics of why people would “like” you in real life. People don’t want to interact with a corporation, they want to interact with a human. This is also why you should treat your social page like you’re having a conversation at a cocktail party. No one will be your friend if you are only selling your services and broadcasting things about yourself. It also reiterates the importance of having a strong company culture and an online voice to match. People will see your facilities management company or office building as more of a friend they can trust if you act like one.

Why It’s Easier To Complain Behind A Screen

The downside of allowing everyone to share their opinion in an open environment? The possible broadcast of negative feedback, that sometimes seems to come in more often than the positive. While negative customer service reviews and feedback shouldn’t be ignored, and should always be addressed properly, facilities managers should take into consideration that it is much easier for an individual to share their opinion through an online platform, because it eliminates the non-verbal communication consequences that come from face-to-face interaction. Often written words are misunderstood, because there is no visual representation of the emotion behind those words. When someone complains online, they aren’t riddled with the impact of their comment, because there is no “face” receiving the negative information and therefore isn’t giving a non-verbal response. 

“A computer does not require cognitive or emotional involvement, making our interaction with it much easier.” – Liraz Margalit | TWN News

This makes it much more likely for people to say what they might not normally say in person, simply because it is easier for them to do so. This doesn’t mean every negative comment is wrong, just that anyone responding to feedback online should keep this in mind. Stay positive (even if the comment is less than so) and treat every response like you would in person. Try to address the issue online, and then solve the issue offline. 

Self Presentation 

As humans, we are constantly defining ourselves to the world – through where we go, what we buy and how we act. It is a lifelong journey that helps us find our place and reassurance in who we are as people. There is no exception when it comes to the internet, in fact, it gets even more intense. The internet becomes a place where everyone is branding themselves, and we all feel comfortable shaping who we are to an online audience. Sharing information is part of this “self-presentation”. 

“Passing information on is an impulse that we’re hard-wired with. Just the thought of sharing activates our brain’s reward centers, even before we’ve done a thing.” – Courtney Seiter | Business 2 Community 

Nearly 68% of people say they share something online because it gives others a better idea of who they are and what they care about. While 78% report sharing helps them stay connected to the people around them. Relationships are crucial to human wellness and survival, and we want to do anything we can to keep those relationships healthy. Sharing and reciprocating a simple “like” on Facebook provides us with the need to nurture the relationship we have with others, and helps us define our self presentation.  

The ‘Halo’ Effect

The “Halo Effect” is a psychological phenomenon that causes a positive bias. Edward Thorndike found that if an individual believed another person had one strong positive trait, like always being honest – this bias would automatically lead the evaluating individual to think that the person’s other qualities like their work ethic or helpfulness were indeed positive. For facilities management brands or office managers, this means how you’re perceived on social can translate to how you’re perceived when you’re providing FM services. If you’re known for answering questions on Facebook or providing helpful content on Twitter, your tenants will probably find your actual business services much more favorable.

“Any comment about you, anywhere online, is to a consumer a reflection of what kind of company you are. It’s not exactly logical, but that’s how our brains work.” – Courtney Seiter | Business 2 Community 

This is why it is important to reach out to all feedback, to show other people who are reading this interaction that you may not be perfect, but you care to make the situation right. Your communication patterns through online sites will make their way into your brand’s overall appearance to current and potential tenants. Try your best to ensure each interaction a customer has ends on a positive note. 


What’s the takeaway with all of this? Interacting is part of human nature, and we crave a sense of belonging and acceptance. Your audience wants to connect with you, and when they reach out it’s imperative that you reach back – even if their comments are negative. Although both are important, eluding positive vibes has a much better impact on your overall presence. The main lesson that can be learned here, be a human-like company worth talking to. Share content people find valuable and aligns with their own personal brand and confirms their own self-presentation. Now go out there and be awesome!



Kaitlan Whitteberry

Kaitlan Whitteberry is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Missouri's journalism program, and currently focuses on iOFFICE press releases, software updates and related news.

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