As the social media landscape has evolved, marketers have focused on the trends and psychology of sharing.

However, as the market changes, there may be a tipping point as to how much media we actually want to consume and share. 

So how do social media platforms impact consumer behavior? And how and why do social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter continue to influence us?

I took a look at three specific examples to show how social platforms have shifted user behaviour but also were influenced by it.

Twitter favourites

This is a great example of how a relatively simple design change has impacted user behavoiur and caused a shift to ‘favouritism’. In December 2011, Twitter changed its site and added a feature to show you who had favourited your tweets. This was a simple change that saw a massive impact in user behavior. 

John Herman at Buzz feed noticed that a there was suddenly a steep rise in the number of favourites around ‘lets fly’ and it led to a shift in how people think about tweets. That they are objects rather than posts; units of media rather than simple links.

Many a social media marketer will see the similarity to the Facebook "like" and, as Neil Perkin suggests, a new way to say ‘Good post’. For me, the graph below highlights how one simple platform change can have a huge impact on consumer behaviour

Note: It is interesting to see SEOMOZ releasing news on its new measure of social authority based on Retweets this week.  

I don't consider this the best metric of influence and maybe this could be left for further discussion in the comments section below. Could this be an example of a community platform trying to influence the wider community behavior?

LinkedIn 1%

Who received their LinkedIn top 1% or 5% status? In many ways a very clever campaign to encourage social sharing and play upon ego metrics and factors related to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

However, in many ways it can be viewed as pointless and not relevant. Either way it influenced consumer behavior immediately and people's desire and need to share.

Kudos to Martin MacDonald of Expedia for pointing out data taken from Topsy on the correlation between the social campaign from LinkedIn and user behavior of 300-600 tweets per day suddenly jumping to 47,000 over a few days. 

Facebook Graph search

Facebook Graph search is, basically, personal big data. It’s a search engine based on your data and your network data – connections and likes – and Facebook has taken a layer of big data and built a preference engine around this that represents a new era in the development and relationship between search and social.

This also represents a  shift, not only in Facebook’s need to become even more relevant, but in consumer behavior.

Security and privacy of data has always been an issue online and Facebook’s Graph search does limit the amount of information available but it does make your personal information more available for others – friends of friends and likes.

When looking at the potential privacy nightmare, it is clear to see that this change will impact consumer behavior and what’s more, if it doesn’t, consumer behavior will dictate its success or failure.


The three examples above all give us reasons to share but also reasons not to share.

Fear, privacy and strategic goals may prevent people from over sharing of personal information in the future whilst business people begin to think and act more strategically about their use of social networks and social connections.

This could be based on a need for survival rather than just a simple formula that matches the traditional social media hypothesis to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Maslow rewired.

Social media networks do dictate consumer behavior but at the same time their success relies on it.


Published 15 February, 2013 by Andy Betts

Andy Betts is a digital marketing strategist working with agencies and direct advertisers. He blogs here, and can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn

16 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (6)

Save or Cancel

Danielle Plum

Can you find the mis-spelled words grammatical errors in your articles?

over 5 years ago


Andy Betts, Managing Consultant, Business and Digital Strategist at Bett-zi

Yes, I am human - correcting -thx for the heads up.

over 5 years ago

Eva Reviers

Eva Reviers, Bose

While some people are calling this "Congratulations" e-mail from LinkedIn spam, sneaky, misleading, .. I think it’s a brilliant and super clever marketing campaign and it generated a lot of engagement.
LinkedIn tries to make you feel important and special about being a top 1%, 5% or 10% profile, and a lot of LinkedIn members actually tweeted or shared this flattering information via Facebook or Twitter as we could read in this article (and still see on social media.)
It will be interesting to know how many members upgraded to Premium plan accounts, as about 20 million members received the 1%, 5% or 10% profile mail.

over 5 years ago


Andy Betts, Managing Consultant, Business and Digital Strategist at Bett-zi

Great points Eva - it is very clever in terms of increasing engagement and sharing and conversation

over 5 years ago


Andy Betts, Managing Consultant, Business and Digital Strategist at Bett-zi

Hi Steve

Social is Social - it is also search, mobile, content and user behaviour. If used incorrectly it can also be anti - social :)


over 5 years ago

Gemma Holloway

Gemma Holloway, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

I think Twitter and LinkedIn have encouraged users to share more, however, I think the Facebook Open Graph Search could have the opposite effect.

Twitter and LinkedIn encouraged users to share information about other posts and be active as a self benefit. However, I think the fear with Open Graph is that personal information about yourself will be shared. People seem to post more sporadically on Facebook at the moment, however, I think this will soon change once the update is rolled out.

over 5 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.