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Consequences in Social Media

Consequences in Social Media

Guest Post by Julie Terling, AVP Marketing, ADI

Social Media tools and networks are being developed and launched at such a breakneck speed; it’s hard to keep up. Most of us come across these tools through word-of-mouth or by association; people we know and interact with entice us to use them. For most of us, we enter into them for the social aspect, or to engage with people in ways that may lead to developing business relationships and/or new contacts. But what we may not realize is how our behavior is shaped or extinguished by what does or does not happen to us as a result of our online actions. Take for instance Facebook.  Understandably, Facebook lends itself to more personal types of interactions. Whether it is friends, family members or staying on top of what’s happening with a particular group you follow (bands, businesses, local chapters, etc.) your user behavior tends to be more relaxed and casual.  Have you stopped to think what happens to your behavior when you post a status update that no one “likes” or comments on? Or worse yet, when you receive a comment that you view as negative? Are you more or less likely to put yourself, and your thoughts, out there next time? A recent study reported that 40% of people who were “unfriended” by someone on Facebook would avoid contact with that person in the "real world." This same study also indicates that people spend 25% of their time online using social networks and that there is a different set of behaviors, language and etiquette for social media. Where is the handbook for that? If you don’t know them, or learn them quickly, your time on social media will be punishing and short lived. When we engage in social interactions, it’s easy to forget that behavior is behavior and that there are consequences associated with what we do and say. Knowing and understanding behavior scientifically can help improve any relationship, even those we have through social networks.  And, let’s face it, there is a business case for using social media whether we like it or not. As the saying in business goes, “You can never know too many people.” One thing we know for sure, the more “likes” you get, the more apt you are to “like” others.  The laws of behavior are always at work. When you understand them, social media will always increase the positive reinforcement in your life. If you don’t, then…  

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Posted by Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D.

Aubrey is a thought leader and expert on management, leadership, safety and workplace issues. For the past 40 years, he has been dedicated to helping people and organizations apply the laws of human behavior to optimize performance.


I love how Behavior Analysis (BA) makes human behavior in social networks much more understandable, helps us to make better questions and guides us to more practical answers. People, especially the young, are often criticized for avoiding "real life/offline" conversations for the interactions in social networks, and even access such networks during meetings, immersing in the virtual environment while becoming absent in the offline interaction. But when we analyse contingencies, instead of "blame the victim", we see how social networks can produce more frequent and immediate reinforcers for many social behaviors than usual "real life" conversations. When we post something on facebook, no matter what or when, there is a high probability that someone, somewhere, will like it and answer it. Despite of other potential reinforcers, offline interactions often can hardly compete with this rate of reinforcement. In offline conversations not everything you say is interesting to the other part, and vice versa. Not every topic can be said anytime with any person. You have to wait your turn and the right moment to speak of some issues. And again there is a chance that you may be ignored, or the reactions are not so reinforcing. Meanwhile the online army, with an enormous number and diversity of people, is ready to reinforce right away an enourmous diversity of behaviors. Such perspective do makes us more able manage such behaviors, instead of just complain about them. In addition, by understanding better what makes social networks so appealing, we may be able to use them to promote more relevant behaviors.

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