Canadian teenager Justin Bieber is just 18 and has been a worldwide phenomenon for the past four years having been discovered by a music industry talent scout trawling across YouTube. But even more amazing is the mass hysteria seen amongst his fans – known collectively as “Beliebers”. These are mostly teenage girls who swoon, camp out for days to get tickets to his concerts and clearly adore him. It is all rather reminiscent of The Beatles back in the 1960s or women throwing their knickers at the 72-year-old Tom Jones.
According to Fox News, a neuroscientist has been able to study the brains of teenage pop fans and has discovered a couple of interesting facts. Firstly, listening to some Justin Bieber music leads to a rapid increase of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Not only that, the repeated listening to the pop star’s hits reinforces some neural pathways, helping to “permanently wire” the likeability of the songs.
None of this should be unexpected. When we love things a great deal we all get increases of dopamine inside our brains. Indeed, it is the dopamine rush which helps make us feel we like things. Excess levels of dopamine and the poor control of dopamine levels is associated with clinical levels of addition. Nicotine, for instance, contributes to increases in dopamine in the brain.
But dopamine does more than this. For instance, it is associated with attention – too little dopamine and you find it difficult to pay attention for very long. Dopamine is also what helps make you social – people with social phobias and anxieties, for instance, tend to have problems with dopamine production or transmission.
Assuming you don’t have any dopamine-related disorders, you can see how this brain chemical can make youngsters like Justin Bieber. The rise in dopamine makes them feel good due to its mood altering effects, it makes the teenagers more social and it makes them pay full attention to the music, helping to shut out distractions.
Hang on a minute….isn’t that the kind of behaviour you want for your website visitors? Don’t you also want them to feel good about your products and services? And surely you want them to be social and tell everyone else about them? And it’s a fair bet you don’t want your visitors to be distracted by the beep of their email?
What websites need is a dopamine trigger. The more dopamine you can produce in your visitors, the more you will gain from the impact it has in terms of the likeability of your content, the degree to which it is shared and the time people spend on your site.
But how do you produce that dopamine?
There is a clue in the second aspect of the neuroscience study of teenagers. That is the repetitive nature of listening to the same music which lays down the neural pathways. One of the mistakes websites make is to constantly try to say new things. But that means you are not helping to firm up those neural pathways in your visitors. To do that, you need to be repetitive. You need to say the same things, over and over again – just use different forms of words to avoid boredom. Repeating your messages helps construct those neural pathways in the brains of your regular visitors.
And once those pathways are established, the dopamine can get to work. But that assumes one simple thing – your website messages are about the things your visitors like. The more you talk about yourself, the less you’ll lay down those neural pathways in your visitors and the less dopamine you’ll be responsible for.
In other words, you need to repeatedly write the same things which your audience loves. That way their brains will do the rest and your website will reap the rewards – just like a teenage girl’s brain high on Bieber Fever.
- What’s behind Bieber fever? Neuroscience offers explanation (foxnews.com)
- Inside the Brains of Justin Bieber Fans (vimoh.co)
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+