Sharing is its own reward

Humans spend nearly 40% of our speech solely on talking about our own subjective experiences.

By sharing our experiences we seek the approval of others, which in turn feeds our needs of belonging and self-esteem. When we share Instagram images of how we spent our day, every “like” gives us a small ego boost.

But peer approval isn’t the only benefit of sharing. Besides the fulfilment of this psychological need, sharing our experiences also triggers a chemical reaction in our brain. Neurological research indicates that talking about ourselves activates regions of our brain that form the mesolimbic dopamine system. Every time we vocalize our experiences to others, it’s like a pleasurable chemical drip to the brain.

When people attend an event or attraction, they have numerous opportunities to share their experience on social media. Mobile phones are ubiquitous (and a bone of contention) at concerts. Instagram was built on a foundation of “look where I am now!” moments. Attractions now count on the “earned” media exposure that social sharing provides.

But here’s a catch: the neurological boost is triggered by talking about our experiences, not by sharing photos or writing about the experience. Current social sharing platforms aren’t geared towards audio. Both Instagram and Facebook offer video with audio, but users seem reluctant to turn the camera on themselves. YouTube is arguably the best platform for “verbal sharing” and YouTube Vlogs are very popular.

If “verbal sharing” gives us pleasure, how can events and attractions give attendees opportunities to talk about their experiences? One opportunity would be via a digital “speakers’ corner”. For many years, Toronto broadcaster CITY-TV operated a booth outside their Queen Street studios where passersby could talk on camera about any subject that came to mind. Speakers’ Corner was very popular, no doubt in part because of the chemical reward that comes from verbal sharing.

Events and attractions could set up a Speakers’ Corner relatively inexpensively and give attendees the chance to share their opinion about their experience. They could then be given the option of sharing their video solely with the attraction or with the public via the attraction’s social channels.

It’s a win-win for both the attraction and the attendee. The attraction gets valuable feedback from its customers as well as great “testimonial” content for its social channels. Meanwhile the customer feels they are being heard, and also gets a healthy dopamine boost to the brain.

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