Q: Who is your all-time favourite personality?

Parasocial Relationships

Historically a parasocial relationship was formed between an individual and a television or radio personality. These relationships are a one-sided interpersonal relationship that viewers (fans) establish with ‘characters’.

If you watch any television series (or radio… who doesn’t know John Tesh?), you’ve likely been caught in conversations where you speak about the characters as if you know them personally. Your conversation can become quite lively as you express your excitement or disappointment of what your favourite character might be up to, and how the actions of the audacious bad guy is making you feel.

Through continued viewing, people develop an attraction and emotion to their favourite good guys and bad guys. This attraction leads to a parasocial interaction (versus a reciprocal social relationship) whereas they feel more connected to the character and the more connected they become, the more importance they place to that relationship.

Today, parasocial relationships are more prevalent than ever. I bet you can quickly and easily answer both of these questions:

1. who is your favourite YouTube personality?

2. who is your favourite person to follow on Facebook?

We all have one! And, if you honestly couldn’t come up with an answer for either, we bet your favourite television personality is also on Social Media somewhere.

Marketing and communications are a crucial business function.

There is psychology and proven theory behind why, and even how, marketing works. Diving into simple human behaviour can offer even more useful insight.

Parasocial relationships form from repeated exposure to a character, or even a brand (think McDonalds, LuLuLemon or Budweiser). This alone speaks to the necessity of consistent digital exposure such as content, design and video for business marketing.

These interactions relate to the emotional responses that happen when there is deeper engagement. An historical example could be the shopping channel or even comedians. Social media examples include brands that engage rather than just boast about themselves, which is why we firmly believe that digital platforms must not be used solely as a sales channel.

A professional and consistent content plan

for your social media should be taken as seriously as any marketing initiative – perhaps more-so because of people’s expectations and perceptions.

The digital age has provided several platforms for any business to initiate and maintain a parasocial relationship, thereby creating a loyal fan base to increase sales and repeat business.

Social media can create authenticity if used correctly and it’s this authentic approach that leads a person to feel connected. This connection forms a trust and loyalty that may not otherwise be achieved quite so easily without face-to-face interaction.

↣ One of the reasons Facebook is the market leader for businesses to engage is because it allows for transparency, authenticity and live engagement which traditionally was not available.

↣ LinkedIn has made it possible to connect with CEO’s and Managers plus find more opportunities than ever before.

↣ Instagram is a wonderful place to be able to consistently show off your amazing pictures, products and so much more.

If you’d like to learn more about Parasocial Relationships, click here to read David C. Giles, The University of Winchester, PDF that dives even deeper into this psychological phenomenon.

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