Am I a social media addict? That’s a question I asked myself before writing this article while I was unconsciously checking my twitter account and Facebook feed searching for some latest news and friends posts.

Addiction usually refers to uncontrollable behavior that has negative effects. The common thing with all addictions is that, when addictive behavior is suddenly interrupted or suspended, it causes anxiety, fear, nervousness and even some changes in behavior.

Have you ever thought about quitting social media for a day or two? More importantly, how would you feel?

The statistics show huge rise of social media users with Facebook being the most popular social media platform with nearly 2 billion users. Some studies have shown that average user spends even up to 40 hours per week on different social networks.

That’s almost equal to a full-time job. Posting tweets, uploading pictures and videos, checking news and mail, chatting with friends and family have become regular activities we cannot imagine our day without.

Does that mean that there are 2 billion addicts in the world? Hardly. We live in the social media world. The world has drastically changed in the last 20 years. Internet, Wi-Fi, laptops and smartphones, and other innovations have integrated in our lives and work so much that we almost live through technology.

However, there are some cases where the problem is much more serious and it requires professional help. Teens and young adults often spend large part of the week on different social media channels seeking for validation. If that’s the case, social media addiction can damage your health, life, career and relationships. Same as any other addiction. Therapists are offering counseling, advice and treatment if necessary.

Recently, some psychologists have categorized social media addiction as a mental health issue, but there is no official medical recognition of social media addiction as a disease.

Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2016 (in minutes).

(Source: Statista)

But, what makes social media so addictive? Why would we rather chat with our friends via phone than talk to them face to face? The answer to this question requires psychological perspective and understanding of human nature. Social validation makes us feel good. High availability and the mass use of social media are also important factors to consider.

The most dominant trait here is the fear of being left out (FOMO – fear of missing out).

People are afraid that they’ll miss something such as a status, tweet, picture, local event, release of the new product from their favorite beauty brand, song release by a pop singer etc.

Marketers should keep this in mind while trying to convert people’s feelings into action. Imagine that kid in the school who wants to play with others, but is always left out from the group?! Feeling isolated and separated from everyone else is not a good feeling, but luckily everyone’s equal on social media. People care about equality, same opportunities and non-discrimination when it comes to them.

Advice to marketers: Get to know your customers and make them feel important! FOMO Marketing is a new concept for building successful social media campaigns. Create a sense of urgency, encourage people for a social proof, focus on experience and highlight exclusivity.

Social platforms allow our ego to shine.

We all post pictures and tag ourselves, update our Facebook status, tweet from time to time, but we’re not looking for a confirmation from others. People love to share things they like. Just letting others know what we have to say makes us happy. However, that brings other question. Have we become overexposed on social media?

Feed people’s ego! Give them opportunity to try your products first. If they enjoy it, be sure that they’ll share it with their friends. Not to mention word of mouth which is still one of the most important and powerful forms of advertising.

Social comparison affects our self-esteem.

People compare themselves with others to evaluate their personal characteristics, qualities and flaws. Action of others can motivate us, inspire us to change or improve something in our lives. On the other hand, social comparison can also have negative effects, such as a low self-confidence and depression.

Tell customers what makes your product or service better than others (adding value), how it improves or changes their current situation or how it will make them feel better.

Finally, people love to control things.

On any social network, everyone can easily control anything: what we want to see, who we want follow, how and when we want to consume content. I always tell the story of my friend who deleted all photos with her boyfriend after they had broken up. When I asked her why she did that, she had answered “Because I can and because it makes me feel good!”.

Make it easy for them! Educate your customers on all benefits of your product or service. Simple, unique product design is a win situation for any business. People love simple, easy controllable things. Life is complicated enough.

Finding the right balance between your social media engagement and real life is the key. As for business owners and marketers, understanding the psychology of social media addiction may be the key for your success.

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