Social media affects the brain in the same way that a hug does. Here’s how it works, and what marketers can do about it.

You know how you get a rush after completing a good workout or when you’ve wowed your boss with a winning boardroom presentation? That rush of happiness and contentment is thanks to dopamine, a neurochemical known as the “reward molecule” that’s released after certain human actions or behaviors, such as exercising, or setting and achieving a goal. While physical activity is most commonly linked to dopamine’s release, one form of modern-day, sedentary behavior now gets some credit, too.

According to a study of Australian consumers by San Francisco-based media-buying firm RadiumOne, social media usage is a dopamine gold mine. “Every time we post, share, ‘like,’ comment or send an invitation online, we are creating an expectation,” according to the study. “We feel a sense of belonging and advance our concept of self through sharing.”

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