We’ve always known that a key behaviour driving social media platforms is reciprocity. If you like my post / photo / comment, research shows I’m much more likely to do the same on your content.
Thanks to research at Duke University, we now better understand why. It appears that the drive to reciprocate is less of a social norm or the function of friendship and more likely to have been hard-wired into us through evolution. Their research showed that monkeys exhibit a similar social obligation to reciprocate, and that parts of the brain are dedicated to this process. The logic is simple: in the wild if you reciprocate you’re more likely to survive.
What does this mean for the wilds of social media? Just be careful what people’s behaviour is really telling you – the language of the “Like” is persuasive but also possibly misleading: do people really “like” something, or are they just giving in to their inner ape?
For a more in-depth explanation check out the excellent neuromarketing blog here: