Feeling Good Is Big Business: The Secret To Facebook’s Success?

By Julie D. Andrews 

Be honest: Not many of us would have predicted the wild success that is Facebook. Yet, the household-recognizable word is now a bona-fide phenomenon that penetrates every area of human interest, from business to dating.

That’s because people underestimate the power of emotional gratification, argues Nir Eyal, a consultant who has sold two tech companies since 2003, in Psychology Today, writing:

Products that can alleviate powerful negative feelings — like fear, sadness, rejection, anxiousness, inferiority, and uncertainty — even temporarily can be a major draw for consumers.

Feeling good is big business, and there is no end to people seeking easy ways to boost their moods, posits Eyal. Facebook provided a way to meet emotional needs so that external cues were not needed to remind people to go back to the site. Their own chemistry got them back there, at least one time, if not several per day.

Eyal points to a 2006 case study by Nisan Gabbay that found that the key to Facebook’s success was this:

Daily offline social behavior drove usage of the site.

Thus, Facebook was habit-forming. It made people feel better — until they felt bad again, which inevitably occurred, and they had to go back to the site for another jolt of positive emotion. Furthermore, it addressed the intrinsic human need for social acceptance and connection. Still, more than that, it assuaged negative emotions and provided feelings of pleasure. Eyal wrote:

With Facebook, it’s often loneliness that cues a visit … Twitter is cued when the user fears being out of the loop about what’s happening. Pinterest users feel the urge to capture and collect visual scraps of the Web, worried that they’ll lose the image lest they pin it.

Readers: Do you agree that a brand has to understand how its product relates to human behavior and emotional needs to succeed?

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