Your online profile needs to trigger emotions

How do you make your mind up whether to follow people on Twitter, or connect with them on LinkedIn or make them a Facebook friend? If you don’t know them already you probably take a look at their profile.

New research on brain activity from the University of New York and Harvard University shows that when you read such profiles you are not being logical. The study suggests that you are basing your decision to connect entirely upon emotional factors.

The neuropsychologists gave fictional profiles of people, together with a picture, to volunteers whose brain activity was measured as they evaluated the information. What the scanning showed was that the brain was active in the “amygdala”. This region of the brain is one of your main emotional centres. The other area of activity was the “posterior cingulate cortex” – the part of the brain that is associated with measures of value.

In other words, when we read a profile we look at the information and see, firstly, does this individual make me feel good – and then, if they do, we check to see if that individual will bring us any personal value.

Interestingly, previous research in this area has shown that we make the decision in less than 30 seconds – even if it takes us longer to read the profile. This implies that people are looking for emotional triggers in online profiles – NOT facts. It also shows that when we read profiles we make a rapid “first impression” and base our decision on a”gut instinct” rather than any logical evaluation.

So, how can you benefit from this with your online profiles and gain more connections as a result? It means you need to write your profiles with emotional trigger words – rather than facts, figures and so on. Often people write their profiles rather like a resumé or CV. They try to appeal to the reader’s logic; but that appears the wrong way to go.

To make your profile more emotional use the word “you” more frequently than you use words like “I” or “me”. People get more more emotionally “turned on” when the material they are reading involves them. Your profile needs to use these words to produce a “connection”. Many profiles do not connect because they are all “me, me, me”.

By using a profile to hold a kind of conversation with the reader, you will more easily connect, be more likely to trigger the emotional centres of the brain and more probably ensure the “value” measures in the brain are also positively engaged.

Don’t use online profiles to talk about yourself – but to talk about yourself in the context of the reader. Show them how you can help them – don’t show them your life history…! This research confirms they are not that interested in you at all – but much more interested in the value you bring to them.


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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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