“Reticular Formation Theory” in Social Media


I was recently going through an eBook and stumbled upon this theory called the “Reticular Formation” in Social Media. Diving deeper into the theory I understood that this theory is something that affects the way we do our social marketing. According to Wikipedia reticular formation is a region in the brainstem that is involved in multiple tasks such as regulating the sleep-wake cycle and filtering incoming stimuli to discriminate irrelevant background stimuli. It is essential for governing some of the basic functions of higher organisms.

Still Sounds Greek? Same here! Let me give you the perfect example I found online. You live by a railroad track all of your life and every now and then during the night a train just spurts its horn while passing your home. As soon as this happens this bantam part at the base of the brain lets you to ignore the noise. It permits you to “get used to” something that has happened all of your life. On the other hand, if it hears the sound of a glass breaking in the living room it would tremor you from your perfect sleep. Basically, reticular formation aids individuals “pick over” the things that are immaterial and help us to ignore certain things that are going on in our lives.

Let’s try to analyze this through our own behavior. Normally when we login to a social network like Facebook the first things we do is scroll down to the updates and stop at a familiar face or name and read their update. According to recent studies that’s about 88% of the Facebook user’s initial behavior. Generally people do have a routine, though it’s not done in purpose, we tend to go into regularity where we tell the Reticular Formation in our brain what we need to see and hear and what we don’t. We are people of habit. We don’t do it on purpose, but we tend to let ourselves get into a groove or a rut and therefore it tells our reticular formation in our brains what we want to hear and what we want to ignore.

We are wired in a way were we tend to trust in the people we know in our social media more often than the latter. We look at updates from people we know in social media. Out of the countless updates than run down our timelines, we ignore the unfamiliar faces and move on to the familiar. Although more people are researching products and services online, from a brands perspective trying to get noticed by these consumers is becoming more and more difficult. Big brands have huge resources at their disposal and are always doing their research and development to find the next big thing. The perfect example being the Hyper Personalization Facebook ads that were used by Tata Docomo for the World’s first CRM Powered Social Media Campaign .According to Rebecca Mahony the VP at Ebuzzing, Influence is a huge bionetwork of shove and pull. Influencer marketing is so potent because people are the most significant stimuli in our lives. We place more belief in persons than in commercials. Social media is cross section of people and content.

There are four levels of influencers:

1. Celebrities (Beyoncé / Shahrukh Khan)

2. Publishers (bloggers and YouTubers)

3. Fans (customers and stakeholders)

4. Friends (friends, family and coworkers)


At the top of this list you’re reaching the most people, but they have the least influence on our lives. At the bottom, you’re reaching a much smaller group, but they will have much more influence. Still as a brand, when approaching influences to market your message what you should be looking for is individuals with blogs and email lists who basically poses a high Klout score, these people have the groundwork already done to make an impact on your target audience. A reputable blogger or personality with lots of followers on the contrary to a new blogger who’s yet to grab the mindshare of readers would face a more daunting task of grabbing attention and influencing people.



Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your owned media properties, but the challenge rests on what’s the strategy that you are going to opt to reach the target consumers. Knowing how the human mind works and the emotional side of making the perfect message that needs to reach the customer will just give you that added advantage you need in this highly competitive market.



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