Why Social Media is So Addictive

Chocolate dessert

If you're a chocaholic, you're probably wishing you could lick through the screen right now. Is being addicted a bad thing? And why is social media so addictive?

“Any activity, action or emotion that fulfills at least three needs at a high level becomes, in effect, an addiction. Likewise, people have positive, negative and neutral addictions.”  That's what Tony Robbins, a powerful professional speaker, said when I saw him speak last month.

[Disclosure and thanks to Krupp Kommunications for the complimentary event admission to Tony Robbins’ Unleash The Power Within®.]  

According to Mr. Robbins, humans have six needs. Let's see which ones apply to social media.

But, first what is addiction?

Addiction has long been understood to mean an uncontrollable habit of using alcohol or other drugs. Because of the physical effects of these substances on the body, and particularly the brain, people have often thought that “real” addictions only happen when people regularly use these substances in large amounts.

More recently, we have come to realize that people can also develop addictions to behaviors, such as gambling, and even quite ordinary and necessary activities such as exercise and eating. What these activities have in common is that the person doing them finds them pleasurable in some way. Source: about.com

Humans have six needs: four needs of personality and two needs of the spirit.

The Four Needs of Personality

 1. Connection < Paradox > 2. Significance

3. Certainty < Paradox > 4. Variety

The Two Needs of the Spirit: Growth and Contribution

“It is only by meeting the spiritual needs that you will experience sustainable joy versus momentary pleasure.” Tony Robbins

At the event, we did a before and after exercise about which needs were most important.

Before, about 70% of the room ranked significance as most important. If your market is successful high-achievers or entrepreneurs, then they probably also place a high value on feeling significant.

Ego plays a big role in marketing, PR and advertising doesn't it? Many times, the people and their company must be perceived as a significant leader to attract attention and retain customers.

That’s where ranking on social networks comes in.

Think of Klout – is it about influence or significance or both?

Significant: Having or expressing a meaning; meaningful.

Influential: One that is of considerable importance

Source: TheFreeDictionary.com

Can anyone be influential without being significant?

Interestingly, after we worked through our life’s priorities, the majority shifted from ranking significance as a top priority  to ranking feeling connected as number one. Social media fulfills both needs, significance and connected, for those who want it to.

Pick any one of the other six and you can see why social media is addictive.

Connection? Completely open to interpretation

Certainty?  You know who your friends are

Significance? Powerful and fast for the taking

Variety? Infinite inside and out of networks

Growth? Stretch it any way you want

Contribution? Absolutely – “If you get it, share it”  is Social Media Club’s motto.

How many primal human needs does social media fulfill for you?

Image credit: Barbara Rozgonyi from the chocolate and desserts collection.

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