Why do people really use Facebook? What makes them quit or stay? Why do the majority of users never dare to flee? The questions many users and social media marketing specialists have been asking are now answered by scientists. Read more in our brief guide on the latest research news about Facebook.

#1. Facebook makes people feel good and… guilty

Scientists from Michigan State University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands have found that Facebook-related images (logos, screenshots) cause pleasant feelings in frequent social media users, which may grow into intense cravings. According to Allison Eden, assistant professor at Michigan State University, that’s probably because people learn that getting to Facebook earns them reward – just like dogs learn going to the bathroom outside earns them a treat. In other words, using world’s biggest social networking website might be considered as a learned response, which is extremely hard to break. The same study suggests that people who try to control Facebook usage usually fail. The failure makes them feel badly, so they return to Facebook and feel even worse. According to scientists, these people feel guilty, because they could not resist the temptation. The main takeaway: A strategy which makes people stay long on a Facebook page may not be the best as it can raise feelings of guilt.

#2. A third of users take breaks from Facebook, and some of them never come back

Consuming though it may seem, Facebook is still resistible, say Cornell University researchers. They asked 410 people to respond to an online questionnaire. The results have shown that a significant part of users practice deactivating their accounts. Moreover, one in 10 of them quit the social networking website forever. The reasons for non-use vary from privacy concerns and productivity issues to problems with being friended by a boss or an ex-lover. The vast majority of “fleers” claimed they were happy with the decision to cut off. However, there are those who cannot help checking out updates from time to time, but they still keep taking breaks. The respondents also reported limiting their use of Facebook through more creative means. “Several participants asked their significant other or spouse to change their password, only allowing them to log in on a limited basis. One participant described redirecting all email from Facebook to an email address that he never checked. Others installed browser plugins that blocked them from visiting the site,” states Eric P. S. Baumer, the study’s lead author. Almost 18 percent of respondents have never had a Facebook account. They demonstrated the same sense of pride and rebelliousness the “fleers” dwelled on. The main takeaway: Engaging people in doing something meaningful on Facebook may be a good idea, so that they will not be sorry for wasted time.

#3. Older users like “spying” on others on Facebook… but fear being spied on

A recent survey conducted by National University of Singapore and Media Effects Research Laboratory has shed some light on elderly people’s perception of social networking. The researchers interviewed 46 web users aged between 65 and 95 years old. They were supposed to list their reasons for using or not using Facebook. The results provide some evidence that older adults are mostly interested in monitoring others people’s updates. “I am more of a Facebook voyeur, I just look to see what my friends are putting out there. I haven't put anything on there in years. I don't need to say, 'I'm having a great lunch!' and things like that, I don't understand that kind of communication,” said one of the participants. However, the triviality of conversation is not the only reason that keeps seniors away from the website. Their main concern is privacy. The 65+ users are worried about the fact that their posts might be revealed to hundreds of random people. Hence, Facebook cannot tap into one of the largest growing sectors for social media adoption without developing clear privacy control tools. According to Eun Hwa Jung, assistant professor at National University of Singapore, privacy settings and alerts should be highly visible, especially when sharing information. The main takeaway: Elderly people engage with content without openly demonstrating it with likes or shares and are most interested in texts, photos and videos, which were shared or re-shared by their jounger family members.

#4. Facebook users collect friends as they collect objects

At least, that is what the first comprehensive theory of social media usage says. Its authors – a team of social psychologists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum – have found some correlation between personality traits and Facebook activities of 531 people who took part in their survey. The study revealed that the platform attracts materialists who aim at comparing themselves to others. They objectify their Facebook friends and use the website more frequently and more deeply than people with idealistic values do. This fact made the researchers develop the Social Online Self-Regulation Theory, which pays respect to the results of all the previous studies. According to it, the platforms are nothing more than a tool – neither good nor bad. “The users use them in a way that reflects their values and goals in life,” explains Phillip Ozimek, one of the psychologists. The main takeaway: Different groups of people spend time on the Facebook for different reasons. To find out objectives of your target group and implement this knowledge into your campaign could be a good idea.

Wrapping Up

Facebook is both a habit and an instrument of personal or commercial growth. Used properly, it might uplift a business through “hooking” the prospective customers. After all, they are all seeking for positive emotions. Contact us – The Loupe for consulting on customers interaction and engagement.