A Chemical Reason for Social Networks' Popularity?

July 14, 2010


Tara Hunt
Use social networking to return the personal aspect to financial services, advises Tara Hunt. View more conference coverage.

There might be a physiological reason for the meteoric rise in the popularity of social networking, according to Tara Hunt, author and social networking expert.

“When people spend about 10 minutes interacting on a social network, their brains release the chemical oxytocin into their systems,” said Hunt. “This is the same chemical that is released when people experience acts of trust, loyalty, or generosity. It really shows we are social beings, and we're wired to interact with other people.”

Hunt outlined the remarkable growth of social networks: 500 million people on Facebook, 120 million on Twitter, and one million users of a relatively new site called Four Square.

The amount of time users spent on Facebook increased 566% in 2009.

“Many of your future members have never known a world without social networks,” she said. “Members of Gen Y don't resonate with brands that seek them out or try to sell something to them. They resonate with brands that align with their core values.

“Credit unions are a natural fit,” she continued. “As not-for-profit cooperatives, you present a wonderful alternative to banks. This message is being presented in a compelling way by initiatives such as, CU Swag, Patelco Credit Union's Zombie Apocalypse,,, and

"Banking used to be a very personal service," Hunt said, "but 30 years ago it became impersonal. Your job as credit unions is to use social networks to return the personal aspect of financial services to consumers."