The Science of Social Networking: A Guide to Generating the “Buzz”

Have you ever wondered what exactly makes people tweet about drinking a pumpkin-spiced latte, or share that hilarious John Cena video around Facebook? Perhaps surprisingly, there is quite a lot of science attempting to explain what makes people share posts on Facebook and even the perfect hashtags on Twitter. Here are a few of those facts to put into consideration the next time you want to spread the word.

Exercise Your Temporal Parietal Junction

Scientists at the University of California Los Angeles have identified and mapped, for the first time, particular region of the brain which is associated with successful sharing of ideas (commonly known as the “buzz”). What exactly is this part of the brain?

It is called the temporal parietal junction, or TPJ for short, and researchers at UCLA found the TPJ to significantly activate whenever a person thinks of an idea that is worth sharing. So whenever you would think: ‘hey, this post seems good, I should share it on Facebook’, your TPJ would become more active.

But that is not the whole story. Psychologists at UCLA were surprised to discover that people who were most successful at generating the “buzz”, were the ones who considered the values of others the most.

The TJP plays a part in deciding what others might think and feel; and people with greater TPJ activity were found to be more likely to convince others to further persuade in sharing the original idea, whether it be a funny cat video via Facebook or a recommendation to watch the new season of Game of Thrones.

What’s the bottom line? The next time you’ll want to generate a “buzz” among your friends, exercise your TPJ by putting more consideration into how your shareable idea would influence people who hear it. Psychologists from the UCLA study tell this is strongly dependant on intuition as well as understanding what others might value, thus popularizing an idea might not be as easy as it sounds.

Choose Your Friends Carefully

Humans, as sociable beings, have always cared about social statuses, both of themselves and others. Owning valuable possessions, money, friends and family, they all have an impact on our “social attractiveness”, and internet proves to be no exception to this phenomenon.

Using knowledge of this human behaviour, researchers at the Michigan State University tested the influence that the number of friends can have on our “social attractiveness”, i.e. how well others perceive us. Researchers did this by asking a group of college students to rate the same profile of a fictional person that only varied in one key aspect: the number of friends.

Interestingly enough, scientists discovered that the most “socially attractive” results were obtained by the fictitious profiles owning 302 friends. From the results, scientists concluded that having more than 302 friends appeared desperate whilst having less friends seemed unpopular.

Today the average person registered on Facebook has around 130 friends, and yet people still to have managed create a collective “buzz”, most likely without the influence of the number of friends people may have. If you do, however, wish to boost your “social attractiveness”, having approximately 300 just might do it (there are no promises).

Create the Perfect Hashtags

And of course, don’t forget your hashtags! A group of data scientists at Twitter examined more than 350 hashtags used for 6 months during 8 popular reality American shows. As a result, they found 3 main hashtag-components that seemed to generate the most “buzz” among the viewers of the reality shows.

The following tips for creating the perfect hashtag are considered straightforward (maybe even a little too straightforward) but nevertheless, have proven to be statistically significant, i.e. during the research, hashtags with the following components generated maximum Tweets per minute and made up to top 50% of the used TV show hashtags.

Include The Name of the Show

Very simple, yet powerful. Twitter team found a significant increase in tweets per minute when the name of the show within the hashtag was included. In relation to boosting your posts or tweets, this may mean including relevant key words and names related to your post in a hashtag.

Use “TeamX”

As simply as introducing #teamx hashtags, where x is the name of the cast in a reality show, also was found to boost the number of Tweets per minute. Obviously this hashtag works only if there are relatable potential “teams” you can create in addition to your idea.

Mention a Moment in 15-17 Characters

And finally, describing concisely a moment from a reality show in 15-17 characters within the study showed a significant increase in the viewer’s engagement. Thus making the most of a concise, descriptive hashtag portraying your idea should help to add a certain “buzz” around your idea (but again, no promises).


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