Online Rewards

March 22, 2011

Each day it seems as though there is a new statistic on how big and powerful Facebook, blogging and other forms of online communication have become. This weekend it emerged that Facebook now has 500 million users and is the most visited site in the U.S, ahead of even Google.

The facts are there. What seems to be missing, however, is any kind of explanation as to why so many of us have become part of the ever-expanding online community.  Guardian columnist, Oliver Burkeman offers an interesting suggestion. In his eyes, it’s all about reward. Long before Mark Zuckerburg was ever born, it emerged that people repeat behaviours that they find rewarding. According to Burkeman, we click compulsively because there might or might not be a reward – a new email, a new blog post – waiting for us. In other words, technology is merely facilitating our appetite for ideas, suggestions and messages.

Social networks and blogs offer not only information, but also the opportunity to present ourselves in the best light possible. It’s all too easy to de-tag unflattering photos and let others know about what trendy things we’ve been up to at the weekend. Aoife recently blogged about how Facebook places now allows users to let friends know how much of a “social bee” they are in real time. This is rewarding too.

Facebook rewards

And let’s not forget the more recent advent of tangible rewards being offered by the likes of Facebook places and other geotargeted promotions. Money-off offers and freebies further incentivise being part of an online society. 

 No matter how you look at it, social media is rewarding. Who can argue with 500 million people?

-Carly

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