Even if you are passionate about social networks, you will recognize that they require a high level of involvement and energy. In fact, they can become suffocating. Whether it is due to the large number of publications or the comments and controversies that are sometimes generated, the usual thing with the social media environment is to feel exhausted. And that is something that those who sell online benefit from.
A study of behavior
We took as reference the three studies that carried out stuntmen Eric Haley and Matthew Pittman at the end of the year 2022 and of which one of them has presented in depth in a Gizmodo article. The results of his research are very interesting, since they reflect the reality of the way in which social networks influence users and some of the decisions they make.
According to these results, more than once we click on ads on social networks and end up doing purchases that we neither want nor need. The experiment they carried out was done in three different groups of people between the ages of 18 and 65. As is common in these studies, each of the groups was given a task:
- First group: simply looking at an ad
- Second group: first memorize a 9-digit number and then look at the ad
- Third group: scroll through the Instagram wall for 30 seconds and then look at the ad
The same photos and the same messages were used for each of the groups. The only thing that changed was the number of likes it included each ad. The objective was to verify how they influenced the awakening of purchasing interest among users. In addition, they repeated the study three times with different people with the intention of using three different types of product and thus ruling out that this influenced behavior. The first study was with prepared food, the second with ice cream, and the third with coffee beans.
Social networks rule
Surely you can imagine how the results came out. The group of users who saw the Instagram profile before encountering the ad was the one that was most open to the intention to buy the product. They stated that they were influenced by the number of likes and acknowledged that viewing the ad required a great deal of mental effort. However, this is not the worst.
The most interesting data is related to the explanation of the reasons why the study users who had browsed Instagram they wanted to do the shopping. Unlike the members of the other groups, who claimed to be interested in the flavor of the ice cream or the quality of the ad itself, those who had viewed Instagram gave answers to the same questions that were completely inexplicable. Those responsible for the study say that these people from the Instagram group limited themselves, in some cases, to responding with random words, such as “food”. They also mention that there were those who found the announcement difficult to read or to assimilate.
Why is this happening? The conclusions obtained from the study is that society suffers the effect known as cognitive overload, a mental exhaustion Produced by a host of factors in which social networks have a really high weight. Everything is attributed to the brain, which has difficulties managing everything that the process of using social networks implies. Because in a matter of seconds, scrolling, the mind comes across a wide series of ideas, texts, photos and elements that are not always related. It is not easy at all, especially when you combine news from web pages, personal family photos and any other type of content. These contrasts that reach the brain so quickly generate a series of complex problems.
This explains a lot the functioning of social networks and the importance that brands give to being present in them, especially in what refers to local advertising. But Matthew Pittman and his partner also comment on a small detail that sheds light on user habits. They say that although the prepared food and ice cream experiment did not go well for the members of the Instagram group, with the coffee beans the result was different. And what is the reason? His conclusions lead to the collision of mental exhaustion with the knowledge and experience of users. They say that in those types of cases where the ad activates a special interest in the mind of the user, the result is different. In these situations, no matter how much mental exhaustion there is, knowledge, experience and interest are placed above decisions that are made at the moment.
So the next time you go shopping online after clicking on an ad on social media, ask yourself if you really want that product or maybe you’ve been swayed a bit by watching featured stories on Instagram. Stores, restaurants and brands know how to do their job very well, so don’t be surprised if this happens to you: it has happened to all of us.