The Power of Habit is a fascinating book, I highly recommend it. Understanding the mechanics and power behind habit is pretty powerful stuff.
The “cue” is the trigger for an action. If you were going start an exercise routine, for example, you might set your alarm for 6:30am. The alarm leads to the “routine”, which is the exercise. Then it gets interesting.
If you keep up the exercise for a couple of weeks you get a “reward”. You feel better, you look better in the mirror, people ask if you have lost weight. That is the reward, and the reward is what sends you back to the cue.
It seems unlikely that Mark Zuckerberg knew about the habit loop when he started Facebook, but the company certainly understands it now.
You check Facebook Insights, that is your Cue. Post, that is your Routine. See a red number on the Activity tab, Reward.
The News Feed algorithm becomes particularly interesting at this point. The bigger the red number the greater the reward, almost like a full workout as opposed to walking around the block. The better that feeling, the greater the desire to have more. You think, “I wonder why that post didn’t do as well as the one from the previous day?” Now, Mark has you by the throat.
“I need a fix, man! I NEED that dopamine. I’m addicted to the Like”
Cue. Routine. Reward. Habit loop.