Sociology and psychology are making a comeback. Top put it simply, social media as we know it would not be successful without these two social sciences. These sciences are the backbones of every major social media platform today, and are the reason that these platforms are functional, necessary, and addicting.
Sociology and psychology are the foundations of social media.
Gone are the days where everyone worried that sociology won’t get you a decent job and psychology will only stick you in a room with patients. People will no longer think you’re breezing through college with an easy, repetitive social sciences degree. Instead, they’ll commend you for stepping up to the plate and for taking over the digital world.
These two social sciences combined are unstoppable. They combine our behavioral patterns to our community ties, and use what they find to personalize each user’s experience on social media platforms. This is achieved through AI. Every social media platform is created by an algorithm. AI thinks on behalf of a code that thinks about different actions based on that code.
Who creates AI? Humans. We create AI.
Social media is designed as communication portals, as the real way that we should be communicating with each other. Those algorithms are built by engineers, all of whom have high level PhD sociologists and psychologists to help plan how to design the algorithm.
The algorithm guides us to communicate in the ways that we should be communicating with each other because when you begin to understand how we communicate, mannerisms begin to change. Community based bonds trigger a positive change.
When someone knows something about you or feels a sense of community, a relationship is formed. When you are able to bring people together in a sociological manner and entice them with a feeling of value, you will build a bond. When you start thinking about platforms and social media, the intent is to bring people together. So a strong sociological and psychological understanding of the way human interactions trigger positive relations has to be the essential backbone to the social media algorithm.
Instagram is the ultimate portal of bringing people together based on where they are, what hashtags they're using, who they're following, and who they have relations with.
We as humans crave sociological and psychological relationships. We want to be around other people that are like minded to us, and Instagram capitalizes on this in order to trigger a positive relation with the platform so you end up using it more.
Think about who you follow on Instagram. Most of those people are your friends, maybe some influencers and top name brands in the mix as well. Now take a closer look at who exactly it is that you are following. The majority of friends you place yourself around, you have association with on some sociological and psychological level. It can be as small as both being females or attending the same college (sociological relations), or as large as donating to the same charity (psychological relations). Either way, those traits go a long way in developing your specific “following” list to the values and community bonds that you have.
Now, how does the algorithm use your values and community bonds to follow more users and connect with new people?
Instagram finds people for you to follow, like, and engage with, all based on the starting point on who you follow, which one of those followers you pay most attention to, and what the general sociological traits of those individuals are.
For example, Instagram knows that there are two people who are connected because both of them follow @42GrowthStrategies. They both have that sociological association to the account, so the algorithm will place the two closer and closer together. This is the first connection between the two people, but now the algorithm is looking to see if they have similar behavioral patterns outside of engagement with @42GrowthStrategies. The more connections between these two people, the closer the algorithm will place them together until they connect with one another.
Once you find out you have things in common, you should be pushing closer together to have valuable connections and build relationships because there is a psychological based upon a sociological relationship that you can get along with that person.
This is psychology 101: you will most likely have a stronger conversation about a similar interest as opposed to having a conversation with someone you have nothing in common with. The algorithm knows that two people with different interests won’t get along if pushed together because they think differently and have different interests, because they think differently psychologically.
Twitter is a great example of grouping users based on different interests. A close knit group of people of like minds wanted somewhere to speak their opinions, and they came together to establish Twitter. Now, users of all like-minded social groups are feeding off of one another to create and join conversations. The platform is successful because the algorithm links new users together based on how they think and which users they think like.
This is why every user’s Twitter feed is unique, why Instagram’s home page features specific accounts that are most engaged with, and why these social media platforms are winning.
Even take a look at the newest platform, TikTok. Its algorithm is so accurate, it’s scary. But hey, so is the human mind.
It is essential for these platforms to win because social media platforms are businesses. Sometimes we forget that they’re businesses, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t.
Sure, we play around with them all day and it’s free, but that’s all part of the business incentive to get user engagement. There is somebody who owns the platform or it’s publicly traded, and at the end of the day the main objective is to make money.
There’s a reason New Jersey parkway tolls are EVERYWHERE. Everything is a business these days. Everyone wants to make money.
Think about how much money had to be raised to build the social media platform in the first place. Those investors want their money back and more. In order to be a successful business that can keep updating its platform and draw in users, the algorithm needs to be precise. And in order to be precise, businesses have to bring the sociological and psychological game of life online.
The good news about the online game of life is that there are no more toll booths to worry about. Just sit back, relax, and let Instagram learn everything about you and use that to get you to stay on the app.
How does Instagram win now that you’re a consistent user? By allowing the algorithm to connect businesses with people, a.k.a. advertisements.
Advertisements coming to one person are totally different from the advertisements going to someone else. Even though they can say the same thing, people fall into different demographics that the business is targeting.
However, advertisements are only successful if the target demographic is using the platform. How do they get people to use the platform? Sociology and psychology.
Social media is sociology. Social media is psychology. Social media is the prime example of how we as humans react the best toward people communicating with us, why our relationships are so important, and why our emotions are so important. And from a business perspective, why all of these work to get into our wallets.
Social media is the leading method for small businesses to get the word out, market, and make a name for themselves. Businesses have to make a model for people to like them based on what those people like and how they bond. Let’s say it again: their marketing strategies are based on sociology and psychology.
Social media has only been around since the early 2000s, and it has already taken marketing to the next level, and has proven how valuable soci and psychological are the backbones of all of it.
So next time you see a sociology or psychology major, don’t wonder what they could do with that career or think they’re floating through school; know that they’re one step ahead of us all.
And if you’re wondering if social media has reached its peak, keep in mind that it took over 100 years to go from combustion engines (Henry Ford) to a clean electric vehicle. We haven’t even reached two decades with social media.
We are just at the beginning.