The idea of social media as a vehicle for showing off and generally boosting ones ego is not a new one. It's widely known for instance that Facebook is a honeypot for narcissists to brag and boast about their wonderful life. All of which is kinda to be expected. In most instances the whole point of Facebook or Twitter is to share with others what you're doing.
New research underlines why we love doing this so much. It shows that talking about ourselves online gives us the same sort of pleasure sensation in the brain as we get from eating some great food or earning lots of money.
Apparently around 40% of what we say each day is devoted to telling others about ourselves. The Harvard scientists used brain imaging and behavioural experiments to discover quite why that is. Apparently the answer is pretty simple – it just feels so damn good!
"Self-disclosure is extra rewarding," said Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir, who conducted the experiments with Harvard colleague Jason Mitchell. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "People were even willing to forgo money in order to talk about themselves," Ms. Tamir said.
Generally, acts of self disclosure were accompanied by spurts of heightened activity in brain regions belonging to the meso-limbic dopamine system, which is associated with the sense of reward and satisfaction from food, money or sex.
Avoiding Corporate Narcissism
Which is fine for personal accounts, yet we expect different things from corporate social media accounts. If you visit a companies presence on Facebook or Twitter and all they're doing is talking about themselves it's generally frowned upon. The video below pokes fun at companies that treat social media like it is just about them, pushing sales messages out morning, noon and night.
Of course the Harvard research should be read not as an excuse to use social media to waffle on and on about you and your products. It should instead be read as a look inside the brain of your customers or followers. You should read it as evidence of how much they will get out of engaging with you if you make it all about THEM.