Can meditation affect social media use?

28 Sep, 2023
Can meditation affect social media use?
Dr Amy Errmann from AUT Business School's Department of Marketing

Mindfulness is known to alter our behaviours and responses in the real world, but can it also influence how we engage with social media?

Dr Amy Errmann from AUT Business School's Department of Marketing, working with researchers from the University of Auckland, explored the impact of mindfulness on social media interactions. The study observed participants undertaking a two-month online meditation challenge, meditating for 60 minutes daily and subsequently tweeting about their experience.

After the challenge concluded, researchers analysed six months’ worth of over 60,000 tweets. This encompassed a user’s entire tweet history, not just the tweets about mindfulness meditation. Users were anonymously categorised into those who had finished the mindfulness challenge and those who hadn't.

So, did mindfulness alter the nature of users’ tweets?

The results were emphatically positive. Those who meditated daily for 60 minutes tended to post more original tweets instead of simply retweeting others’ content. Moreover, their content was more positive compared to those who hadn't taken the mindfulness challenge. These meditators also exhibited greater sociability online, frequently replying to others and crafting longer tweets.

Amy says the implications of these findings are significant, showing that mindfulness has the potential to counteract online negativity and foster creativity.

“As online platforms become pivotal for brands and their marketing strategies, integrating mindfulness practices can offer users easy access to mindfulness techniques. For marketing professionals, embedding mindfulness within social media campaigns or wellbeing challenges can deeply impact their online engagement.”

As an example, Amy cites Nike’s introduction of specific 'mindful runs' in partnership with Headspace. If such mindful exercises can encourage positive sentiment and originality, it can reflect positively on brand reputations promoting such content.

Additionally, mindfulness can help consumers connect more deeply with their emotions and surroundings, allowing a clearer understanding of brand significance for them. By infusing mindfulness into marketing, says Amy, brands can design campaigns that deeply resonate with their target audiences, especially those aligning with spiritual or value-based principles.

“We often consider leveraging mindfulness to enrich our physical surroundings—mindfully purchasing items, savouring food, or being conscious of our emotions and reactions. However, the association of mindfulness with digital spaces, like decluttering phone apps, focusing on specific content, or eliminating online distractions, isn't as common. I believe we can do more to merge the concept of mindfulness with our digital domains.”

Based on the findings, Amy advises people to approach social media more slowly and attentively rather than passively. She likens the type of content consumed to a 'digital diet,' emphasising the importance of absorbing content that promotes health and welbeing.

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