The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks Book Summary - The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks Book explained in key points
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The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks summary

Joe Federer

How Brands Create Authentic Engagement by Understanding What Motivates Us

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Brief summary

In 'The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks' by Joe Federer, readers gain an understanding of the power dynamics of social networks, how they control attention, and how we can navigate them for our benefit.

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    The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks
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    The idea of the meme comes from evolutionary biology.

    “Meme.” It’s a word that’s been flying around for a while now. If you’re an internet user of any sort, you probably instinctively know what one is. You’ve seen the silly pictures, GIFs, and videos that gain massive traction on social media. You’ve probably even shared one or two. But you might be unfamiliar with how and why the word entered our vocabulary. 

    To understand that, we have to dig into some science. 

    The key message here is: The idea of the meme comes from evolutionary biology.

    Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in his book The Selfish Gene. He described how genes are the real drivers of evolution. Through the process of natural selection, successful genes manage to pass themselves down from one generation to the next. He called the vehicle for those genes, be it a plant or an animal, a gene machine

    Dawkins also noticed that things like ideas, songs, fashions, and languages are passed down in human society in a similar way to genes. He called these memes

    Like genes, memes go through an evolutionary process. Think of how ideas evolve. The initial idea is conceived by one human being, and then it’s transmitted to another. As it comes into contact with other brains, it mutates and develops. If an idea is attractive, it becomes successful; otherwise, it fizzles out. 

    And just like genes, memes have to be transmitted through a vehicle. But rather than through the bodies of animals and plants, memes travel through different formats: meme machines

    Take the example of the “Mondays Suck” meme, which is based on the idea that we all hate Mondays because we have to go back to work. It’s obviously a relatable meme, and its success is evident in its many different formats. Numerous GIFs, tweets, and videos carry the Mondays Suck meme throughout the internet. 

    It has also propagated in other offline ways. For instance, the entire premise of the film Office Space centers on the idea. And, long ago, the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius dedicated a chapter of his Meditations to this very subject. Through all of these different meme machines, the meme has persisted and spread through our culture.

    In the next blink, we’ll look at why the machine is just as important as the meme itself. 

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    What is The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks about?

    The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks (2020) describes how brands can create effective and authentic content by understanding the basics of human psychology. Drawing on Freudian psychoanalysis, it gets to the bottom of our online habits and shows brands how to connect with people on a deeper level.

    Who should read The Hidden Psychology of Social Networks?

    • Brand strategists at companies big or small
    • Content creators of any type
    • Those curious about how brands are trying to get their attention

    About the Author

    Joe Federer is a social media thought leader and former Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit. He has also worked at PR and advertising agencies like Ketchum and Energy BBDO, where he developed numerous successful content strategies for some of the world’s leading brands.

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