With competition online getting more intense, we all need to do what we can to get ahead. In this post, we’re going to look at what psychology can teach us about marketing in order to give your campaign that extra edge that it needs.
Do these tricks really work? A lot of people think that this kind of stuff doesn’t have any effect on them. Of course, there’s a name for that assumption. It’s called the ‘bias blind spot’, and it’s actually part of the reason that psychological tricks like these work so well. How? Well, if we assume that we aren’t affected by psychological tricks, then we won’t do anything to counteract them. And that only serves to make them more effective.
Here are some key psychological principles to understand and utilize in your social media marketing efforts.
1. Social proofing
The first thing that you need to be aware of is ‘social proofing’, which is an incredibly important concept on social media. You probably already know about it – the core element of social proof is that people are more drawn to like what other people have already liked and expressed an interest in. If you can get a lot of people to claim to like something on social media then other people will automatically like it as well.
Unfortunately, this is largely outside of your control, though it does place more emphasis on building your following and encouraging engagement with your posts.
Likes are, to a degree, a vanity metric, but they do also serve a purpose. It’s important to understand this, especially when looking to establish your brand.
2. The mere exposure effect
You know how they say familiarity breeds contempt? Well, that’s not necessarily true – in reality, familiarity more often breeds affinity. It’s called the ‘mere exposure effect’, and it’s why the big brands constantly hit you with their ads, because through the simple process of repeated exposure, you’re more likely to form a connection with a brand’s presence, and become a customer a purchase as a result.
So how can I use this in your marketing efforts if you don’t have a big brand budget?
Exposure doesn’t have to cost the Earth, especially if you hone your messaging down to specific audiences and audience groups who are more likely to be receptive to your message.
If you’re about to approach a company and see if they’re interested in your product, target their key staff and decision makers on social media with your ads.
Looking to establish your business in a new region? Then geo-focus your ad content for a few weeks and boost that exposure level.
When we’re given something – a gift, a compliment, a bit of attention – we instinctively feel the need to reciprocate. That’s why cars salesmen will give you a pen before they try to get you to sign a contract. And that’s why you should always reach out to your audience and make them feel included. Because if you strike up conversations with them, they’ll feel more connected with you, and provide more engagement in response.
It’s also why you should always be aiming to give things to your fans – they’ll be far more likely to advise you to their friends if you do. It doesn’t even have to be a big gift, just enough to activate their sense of reciprocity.
4. Similarity creates connection
We like people that are similar to ourselves – so make certain that your company exudes the same values and ideals as your customer base.
This is a simple matter of following who your customers are, finding out what they spend their time on and then posting information about those same concepts on your social media properties.
Do this consistently and you’ll find that your customers will feel far more connected to you, something they’ll demonstrate by liking your posts, sharing your content and commenting on what you’re doing.
5. People connect with people, not companies
This is part of how we’ve evolved – we like faces, people, and the human touch. As such, you should seek to ensure that on your website there is always a human element to your social media presence. This will not only breed more engagement, but it will also create commitment and connection.
Or even better – use faces that are similar in age, race, and sex to your customer base. This will make it far easier for them to feel a sense of connection with your company, as they’ll unconsciously assume that the company shares their values and their ideas. One great place where you can do exactly this is with the models that you use in images on your site.
Most companies just pick attractive young models – and that’s a good strategy if you’re targeting Millennials. If, however, your audience is some other group, then a far better tactic would be to choose models that are more in line with the age, occupation and dress sense of those that actually visit your site.
6. The tyranny of choice
We’ve been brought up to believe that more choices are always better, but scientific research doesn’t bear this out. If people are offered too many choices, they can find it overwhelming and are more likely to suffer what’s known as ‘buyer’s regret’. It can also stop them from buying anything at all as the choice conundrum may be easier to simply avoid. This is known as the paradox of choice.
Limit your choices to a few key ones. Even better, offer them one choice which is slightly worse than that which you want them to take. This will make that choice seem more appealing and will make it more likely that they’ll take the option you’re guiding them towards.
7. People share to look good
One of the main reasons people shares content is to have it reflect well on themselves. For this reason, it’s very important that you frequently share content that makes people look desirable, friendly, well informed, educated or in some other way amplifies their image.
Do that consistently and you’ll increase the chances of your social media message reaching a bigger audience.