Let’s party like it’s 100,000 B.C.
Psychologically, there are many ways we haven’t changed much from that early man. The biggest failing of digital marketers is when we think of consumers as “digital consumers” instead of just “consumers.”
I love digital. It’s incredibly powerful. I’d put digital budget up against traditional budget any day of the week. But, the next time someone starts treating a digital consumer like a magical unicorn to be revered and treated special, here’s a little timeline to share:
We still look to our fellow cavemen to judge which berries are worth eating and which aren’t. It’s a survival instinct we can’t easily reprogram.
And, it’s not the only one.
Humans Notice Living Things More Than Non-Living
Despite the fact that a silent car is more likely to take us out than a silent wolf, we are naturally predisposed to see a walking dog instead of a gliding Prius. According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this goes back to the days when we had to detect animal (human or otherwise) movement in the trees and grass in order to protect ourselves.
This could be why watching someone say something is so much more effective than simply listening to someone in an online video.
Dopamine Levels Effect Decision-Making
The human brain gets hit with a blast of dopamine to signal a reward for a pleasurable experience such as winning something or learning something. Research out of the University College London shows that people are more likely to pick something based on “gut instinct” when they have higher dopamine levels.
That’s why “rewarding” consumers can have long-term associative benefits to your brand, even if the reward is psychological — even providing fans behind-the-scenes insider access via a tweet or post.
Individuals Are Instinctually Cooperative
Humans aren’t very fierce. We don’t have claws, fangs or poisons. But, we can cooperate. This helpful spirit is ingrained in us and helped us survive thanks to cooperative hunting and gathering. According to research in Nature, our instinct is to be helpful even if reasoning causes us to be selfish.
This is probably the single greatest argument for making social sharing as easy as possible. If you make it instinctual for followers to help the group, it is much more likely to happen.
So, yes, social media might have strikingly new and different mechanisms for enacting marketing. But we better not forget that the people around those mechanisms really haven’t changed since cavemen days.
Otherwise, you’re just drinking the Kool-Aid.