Neuroscience And Social Media: The Future Of Digital Marketing

In 2014, Facebook received criticism for experimenting on some 700,000 users by manipulating their newsfeeds without their consent. Facebook attempted to control the emotions users were exposed to and observe how it affected their posting pattern. From that point onward, marketers began to consider/incorporate neuroscience to predict consumers’ behavior by tapping into their subconscious.

Neuromarketing enables marketers to have a deeper understanding of the average customer’s decision-making process. However, some marketers, consumers, and digital activists have also questioned the legitimacy of this process that translates people’s feelings into marketing tactics, and others aren’t sure about the ethical ramifications of neuromarketing. To understand this, it is important to answer another question. How does this technology work?

The fundamentals of neuromarketing

What do we mean by neuromarketing? This technology combines neuroscience with digital marketing. It enables marketers to influence customer choices simply by understanding brain functions that cause consumers to make purchase-related decisions. It isn’t a recent technology and has been around for some time but has become the latest buzzword in the last decade. The information market researchers collect through neuroscience helps them convince customers to buy specific products. Read these examples to understand:

  • This technology compelled Frito-Lay to replace shiny bags with matte ones that customers preferred.
  • PayPal discovered that commercials focusing on speed attracted people more than the ones focusing on safety/simplicity.
  • A study showed that putting delightful children in advertisements distracts people from reading the text, so they made babies look towards the core marketing message in ads.

Many students are leveraging distance learning opportunities to enhance their marketing expertise and learn about neuroscience and its implications in social media. You can also pursue a social media management online course to understand social platforms’ economic/neurological foundation. It will familiarize you with the basics of neuromarketing, including:

  • How to make your ads visually appealing as “seeing is better than reading”
  • Keep your messages shorter to summarize your product’s benefits effectively
  • Appeal to what the customer wants and avoid talking too much about the brand itself
  • Keep your pitch as simple as possible with the correct usage of emotions
  • Developing an understanding of how the brain doesn’t always focus on the crux of the ad’s pitch

The applications of neuromarketing

Neuromarketing has now become an essential aspect of marketing campaigns globally. This technology uses scientific methods to precisely explain a customer’s expectations, motivations, and preferences. It won’t replace traditional advertising platforms and strategies. Instead, it will be incorporated into old marketing practices to reinforce their efficacy. For instance, marketers utilize electroencephalograms or EEGs to understand a consumer’s brain activity. Similarly, functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) can also map customers’ mental gymnastics by tracking their blood oxygen levels. What other tactics are popular in neuromarketing right now? These examples will help you understand this technology:

1. Using the gaze

We’re talking about pupillometry, which discusses how you can leverage the “gaze” to direct people’s attention. Read the example about cute babies once again. An adorable child distracted people from the text as it was looking at the viewer’s face. So, they made the infant turn its gaze towards the ad copy, compelling people to look at whatever the child in the ad was watching. Use applications today to make your ad more colorful or create a visually appealing website to engage visitors.

2. Sensory marketing

Sensory marketing influences people to purchase something by stimulating smell, touch, or sound. It aims at manipulating people’s five senses to affect their decision-making powers. Is it a successful approach? Well, you may wonder why fashion stores use fragrances to present their products as more unique and high-end. Similarly, high-pitched sounds make people prefer light-colored objects, while low-pitched sounds motivate them to choose dark-colored things. Hence, our senses influence our preferences.

3. Playing mind tricks

Advertising techniques frequently incorporate psychological elements to “trick” the consumer into making a decision, for instance, advertising a $10 product to cost merely $9.99. Removing the dollar sign altogether compels people to invest in that product even more. Similarly, studies show that light-colored products sell better when placed on the top shelves, while dark-colored products sell better when located on the bottom shelves. Also, restaurants and food trucks usually display healthy items on the left side of a restaurant’s menu. Ever wonder why?

4. Eye-tracking

As the name indicates, this technology tracks the position of a customer’s pupil using infrared light. During their experiments, researchers use stationary eye-trackers along with eye-tracker glasses. Some webcams also follow people’s gaze as they watch the screen. The portability and convenience of this technique has made it a popular neuromarketing tactic today.

5. Facial coding

What can marketers understand from a customer’s facial expressions? While we’re reading people’s eye movements and brain activities, why can’t we use their smiles to interpret how they feel? When a person expresses her/his feelings through facial expressions, it involves the movement of muscles. Marketers can detect these feelings even before that person knows about them and thus predict their behavior.

6. Leveraging fear

Research shows that human beings, like their evolutionary relatives, are risk-averse. Monkeys have been observed to show an aversion to losing something precious. We crave buying something when not purchasing the particular item is shown as “loss.” Granted that an average consumer’s buying decisions aren’t always rational, neuromarketing professionals can leverage people’s risk-aversion to affect their preferences. This explains why people are obsessed with buying something going out of stock or taking advantage of deals that will expire as soon as tomorrow. This aversion compels customers to take drastic and immediate actions. Just promise them potential “loss” and watch your sales tactic work like a charm!

7. The “lizard” brain

What do you know about the brain’s limbic system? It contains some major brain parts such as the amygdala, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. These structures regulate emotions and form memories. It’s called “the lizard brain” since this constitutes a lizard’s brain in its puny entirety. Your limbic system controls the three Fs, i.e., fighting, feeding, and fornicating. Now, you can realize why news is kept negative and commercials are sexualized. Sex and danger – these two factors now dominate the advertisement industry precisely because your lizard brain responds to them.

8. Tap into emotion

Many B2B marketers develop a content marketing strategy to sell their products. Content is what we call “the King” as it decides your site’s ranking and gathers quality hyperlinks for it. But how can you make this content go viral? The answer involves neuromarketing. You have to understand which emotions compel people to share your content. In 2014, BuzzSumo studied over 100 million articles to examine which emotions increased their collective shareability. And the results showed that awe, joy, and laughter caused 57% of the total shares, but anger caused merely 7% of them to be shared. So, you should tap into emotions and keep them buoyant in your content.


In the past, brands could upload poorly-written articles with low-quality backlinks, and nobody batted an eye! Today, thanks to Google‘s latest algorithm, search engines rank your website based on its relevance to users’ search queries. How do brands make their sites more interesting to boost the audience’s engagement? Marketers combined marketing with neurology to resolve the problem.

The term “neuromarketing” – coined in 2002 – provides a solution to this crisis. It’s based on the idea that 95% of our thoughts and emotions have already happened before being aware of them. Therefore, marketers should attempt to influence the remaining 5% of the consumer’s brain. Brands now use several technologies to affect a customer’s purchase decisions, such as eye-tracking, facial coding, and sensory marketing. However, before utilizing said tactics, consider their ethical implications first.

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