4 Marketing Psychology Lessons to Enhance Social Media Engagement.

We attended #PulseEurope2017, where the psychology of social media fans went under the microscope.
Dino Kuckovic
December 6, 2017 - 5 min. read

Why do we like social media? Yes, this is the question that kept me up for a good chunk of a seven-hour flight from London Gatwick to JFK. Why not? I had already seen all the “new release” movies weeks ago, so thank you Norwegian for the quick turnaround time on this blog post.

Let’s rewind for a second. I spent last week in London for two reasons. One, to shoot four social buzz videos with our customers Panasonic, Contiki, William Grant & Sons and Elevate Credit (coming early 2018). And two, to attend #PulseEurope2017, the ultimate Customer Success event in Europe.

Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight opened day two of the conference by saying, “A great customer experience starts at home”. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for shaping my customer-centric mindset early on.

So how do brands take it from there?

As any seasoned marketer will attest, understanding your audience is largely dependent on understanding their thought processes. You can’t expect digital marketing success if you don’t know what motivates people to take certain actions.

You need to ask: What does your target audience need? Why should they care? There’s no better way to answer these questions than to guide digital strategy with basic psychological principles.

In this article, I’ll reveal four concepts from the psychology of social media and explain how you can use them for an engaging and user-friendly customer experience (CX). Are you ready to get inside customers’ heads?

1. Social proof – building an influential brand
In psychology, social proof is the idea that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the desired behavior. 

Social proof builds trust between a brand and its audience. In other words, this is the essence of your brand that you want people to pass along when talking about you. We’re simply more likely to take the plunge in purchasing a product or sharing a piece of content when others have already done so. Our peers’ actions confirm our hunch that this is a good idea.

Reviews are a great way to build bridges between products and brands because if we agree with what a reviewer says, our opinions of the company or product grow stronger.

CX tactics that work:

  • Make it easy for users to review your products or business
  • Share the reviews on your website and on social for all the world to see

2. Personality and emotions want to go viral!
It’s no secret that feel-good stories can help increase the chance of a message being shared. According to the Association for Psychological Science, evoking certain emotions increases the likelihood that a message will be shared:

“The sharing of stories or information may be driven in part by arousal. When people are physiologically aroused, whether due to emotional stimuli or otherwise, the autonomic nervous is activated, which then boosts social transmission.”

In other words, according to the psychology of social media, positive content results in more sharing. Just look at how effective and popular the use of emojis has become.

Domino’s is known as a trailblazer ready to embrace technological change. Recognizing that consumers are reluctant to even go online to order pizza, they introduced text ordering. Yes, this is about convenience, but it is also an effort to humanize the brand. Put a face (or pizza) to a name and people will be more likely to identify with a brand they like.

Domino’s is positioning itself as a technology-first company to enhance customer experience.

Think about the last time someone or something made you smile or even, dare I say, laugh. Laughter is a powerful tool. Triggering a release of endorphins is a surefire way to at least get a “Like” on a post. And while that may seem like a small victory, getting someone to laugh solidifies their bond with the brand – and encourages them to come back.

CX tactics that work:

  • Add positive emojis to your content where appropriate
  • Share inspirational stories and ask your audience to share theirs in the comments
  • Use team pictures for background or header imagery
  • Have Support engage in 1-on-1 chats
  • Come up with a mascot
  • Sign social posts with actual names or initials
  • Talk about real life moments
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously

3. Reciprocity – the power of giving back
The Law of Reciprocity is a concept that says that you should give before you get something in return. But why? Reciprocity is one of the most powerful psychological means to build a relationship. People love contests and sweepstakes because they love getting the free stuff associated with them. So give away! They’ll return the favor in due time because this will influence your audience’s future purchases.

Offering free stuff or information will not only help your audience, it will increase the perception of expertise associated with your business. Imagine you are TurboTax and offer a free seminar on how to do your own tax returns. Afterwards, when people fail (and taxes are complicated, we all know they will fail) who are they going to run to? The good guys of TurboTax who tried to help them out.

This customer-centric experience will draw your audience closer to your brand.

CX tactics that work:

  • Offer early access to features or programs
  • Give away company merchandise
  • Give away exclusive free trials to followers
  • Feature customers or partners in multimedia success stories
  • Send handwritten thank you letters to most engaged users
  • Involve your customers and tag them

4. Scarcity – succumbing to FOMO
Have you ever seen scarcity used as a marketing tactic IRL? Yes, you have and not too long ago at that. Black Friday! The scenes (I mean results) are amazing – people running each other over to get discounted limited-time offers before anyone else.

Black Friday shopping in Brazil.

Instinct kicks in and people act quickly when something is important enough. They are also more likely to engage both off- and online when faced with a short window of time – act first, think later seems to be the motto.

Creating scarcity brings out extreme FOMO (fear of missing out) in most people nowadays. Nobody wants to be left out because it feels bad. This is exactly the situation you need. Scarcity is a powerful psychological motivator because it conveys a sense of urgency. But it’s only effective if brands know their audience. If done right, these two techniques will go a long way in drawing attention to your business on social.

CX tactics that work:

  • Pick a deadline and announce it to your followers
  • Use words like “hurry”, “going fast”, “now”, “instant” or “immediately”
  • Put a limit on your products or services, e.g. “Only 1 left in stock”   
  • Introduce large numbers to elevate importance of your product or service, e.g. “100K sold already”
  • Color choice can change audience behavior. Red, orange, and yellow inject urgency

Understanding what drives, entertains and triggers emotional responses remains at the forefront of marketers’ minds. Getting into your fans’ heads benefits everyone. You can make the most of your time and resources while giving them precisely what they want.

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