Colour and Social Media Playing Tricks on you?

What’s your favorite colour? Do you feel some type of way when you wear it? How about when you see it in public? Colours have an affect on our everyday perception and we might not even know it. I was the type of person who never liked those paint mixing videos. I might’ve been alone on that one. 

Only within maybe the last two years have I found a new appreciation for what a colour, or in this case a multitude of them. Can do for my perception; and in turn how it ultimately makes me feel. Here’s a link to one on YouTube.

At the same time, have you noticed the affect that colour has on how we use and perceive social media? If not it’s okay you’re not alone. I’m going to attempt to show you a couple of ways about the unnoticed connection. Social media and colour have on our perception and how it affects us.

#1 Notifications

Let’s start with the most obvious correlation between colour and social media, notifications. Facebook and Instagram opted for the colour red for their notifications and it’s easy to see why.

The colour red is associated with stimulating the mind. Coupled with making quick decisions, it has a high visibility, and a tendency to make you feel excited. Furthermore you can start to see a little the affect colour can have on us, It makes you want to keep checking and going back to it. Tristan Harris a former design ethicist for Google put it like this; “that turns your phone into a slot machine, because every time we check our phone we’re playing the slot machine to see “what did I get?” Watch Tristan break down this and more here.

This slot machine feel in addition to a robust colour like red; also affects the dopamine receptors in our brain.

Therefore every like, comment and friend request, it’s a hit of dopamine and we get addicted to it. Most of all, social media company’s use our subconscious understanding of how colours affects us. While purposefully programming it into apps to get our attention.



#2 Branding/Marketing with colour

As a person who commonly uses social media I know the feeling all too well. Unwanted ads popping up everywhere, sponsored tweets or Instagram posts. Companies use social media and the impact that colour has on our perception in their branding and marketing. Allow me explain how.

Let’s take everyone’s favourite Mcdonald’s as an example here. Mcdonald’s red and yellow are their primary colours. The same reason the sign is raised so high in the sky like a beacon.

In addition, we’ve already discussed how the colour red affects our perception; but what about the colour yellow? Yellow is associated with warmth, happiness, and cheerfulness. Seems like why it’s called a happy meal.



“The Pantone color institute studies how color influences human thought processes, emotions and physical reactions, furthering its commitment to providing professionals with a greater understanding of color and to help them utilize color more effectively.” According to Lillian De Jesus a content creator from

Did you know that greenery is the 2017 colour of the year? Fun fact of the day if you didn’t.




#3 What to do about it?

Well the first step is becoming aware of what’s right in front of us.  Moreover, after first learning about how social media constantly steals our attention I started implementing little tactics to regain any sanity; from the at times overwhelming tool that social media is.

For the extremists, you can cut social media cold turkey for however long you’d like. I find even a week is enough time.

If that’s not your forte, rather you can always turn off the notifications in settings on a lot of social media apps.

I feel like they still get you with that little notification number they put over the app itself. We can’t win them all, so these are just steps in the right direction.

As a result, you can see how colour has an affect on our perception specifically with social media. I personally believe it’s greatly playing to our subconscious.  A lot of which happens as if on autopilot.


De Jesus, Lillian. “How to use Color Psychology in Social Media Marketing.” Stencil, 26 Jan. 2017,

bigthink. “How Your Brain Is Getting Hacked: Facebook, Tinder, Slot Machines | Tristan Harris.” YouTube, YouTube, 4 July 2017,


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  1. I really like the topic because many people don’t understand the brilliance behind social media marketing and how the creator’s draw in users. There are just a few things. There are many spots where there needs to be a comma, and some other punctuation needs to be replaced with commas to make it make more sense. There are a few unnecessary periods, colons, and possibly a couple semicolons (although it isn’t clear in this font.) In the opening, try to incorporate the paint mix video as a hyperlink on a word rather than a separate link. If that doesn’t work, You should introduce the link instead of setting it apart.