We all probably click a social media “like” button at least once a day — but have you ever stopped to wonder why we actually “like” things on Facebook? A new infographic from Quicksprout not only asked that question (along with a whole bunch of others); it also attempted to answer it. Why do we do the things we do on social media, anyway?
Although the infographic addresses a whole range of Facebook behaviors, I'm particularly interested in one very specific one: The question of why we click the “like” button. I mean, don't get me wrong; status updates and the content we choose to share also reveal a heck of a lot about us. I would argue, though, that those two behaviors are significantly easier to parse: We do both as a way to relieve loneliness and connect with the larger community. But the “like” button? That's a whole 'nother can of worms. It's such a tiny thing, something which means very little in the grand scheme of things… and yet it can bear such weight at the same time.
As is the case with the whole complicated question of why we even use social media in the first place, there isn't just one answer to the question of why we “like” things. So, the infographic uses the results of tons of previously-conducted research about our social media habits to pin down a few possibilities:
- We use the “like” button as a quick and easy nod;
- Clicking it affirms something about ourselves;
- It can also express empathy;
- And sometimes it gives us stuff in return, like discount codes to our favorite online stores.
Me? My own “liking” behavior probably falls under the “quick and easy nod” category — but I still think it's actually a little more than that. I typically hit that little thumbs up button as a way of saying hello to someone I maybe don't see as often as I'd like, or to open up a line of communication with someone I might not have spoken to in a while.
When I moved away from the city two years ago, the distance between my new home and my friends — three hours and two buses — necessarily resulted in us not seeing each other in person all that often anymore; I also fell somewhat out of touch with friends with whom I was a little less close. Even if you'd like to reconnect, it's awkward starting up a conversation with someone you haven't seen in months, or even years; the “like” button, however, offers a relatively low-risk to say, “Hey there!” A subsequent, “How have you been? Let's make plans to grab a drink the next time we're in the same location!” message is slightly easier to send once that initial reintroduction has been broached — and all thanks to the “like” button.
Or maybe that's just me.
The full infographic is fascinating, because let's face it: Our social media behaviors are fascinating. Check out it below: