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How Social Psychology and Social Media Marketing Can Skyrocket Your Business


© freshidea / Dollar Photo Club

Getting real results from you social media marketing campaigns will not just happen by chance; nor is it just common sense.

If you’re using the publish and pray strategy like most marketers and business owners do, then don’t be surprised if you aren’t getting the love that you’re hoping to get from the social channels.

It takes more than just that.

If you want to increase your odds of succeeding in your social media campaigns, you need your efforts to be paired with scientific principles and evidence to serve as your backbone.

Learning about social psychology is a good start.

If you run your social media marketing efforts with social psychology deeply embedded on its core, you’ll be amazed at how different the results you’ll get will be.

1. Associational Learning

Associational learning refers to our tendency to associate a certain object (stimulus) with automatic responses such as positive or negative emotions.

In a study conducted by Gorn (1982), participants were presented with photos of writing pens, each accompanied by pleasant or unpleasant music. When asked to choose a freebie, they chose the pen that was paired with pleasant music, thanks to associational learning.

But did you know that eliciting negative emotions has a stronger effect? Ads that show gruesome photos of lung cancer to discourage smoking are found to be successful campaigns, according to Das

Also, Banks (1995) discovered that a message phrased as "not getting a mammogram can cost you your life” was more effective than a message that was phrased positively "getting a mammogram can save your life". The former got women to have a mammogram the following year.

Marketing Takeaway: People will most likely remember ads or contents that make them feel something significant. Therefore, you can associate your campaigns with either:

  • Positive stimulus: You can endow your ads with videos of cute babies, heartwarming stories, and you can even run a "For a Cause" campaign! Or, you could lace them with humor to increase a positive word-of-mouth about your posts.​

  • Negative stimulus: trigger fear or anxiety to reinforce call-to-action. You can emphasize a prevalent problem or a negative experience and direct them to your services or how you can help them out. (Examples)

2. Anchoring

Anchoring means that people decide based on the initial information that they receive. With that piece of information to serve as an anchor, it is up to them to adjust their judgment. Savvy marketers have long recognized the wonders of anchoring, especially during sale.

Have you ever wondered why this strategy always works?

It's not at all surprising that customers are more willing to buy a product listed as "four pieces for $1.00 only" instead of being listed as "$0.25 each". People will believe that they have found a good deal by purchasing a piece of clothing that is initially at $20 and has dropped to a price of $10, while $10 doesn't really mean anything to a person who gets it in a regular price.

Marketing Takeaways: The key here is to present your prospects with an anchor (i.e, initial price or a deal), and work your way around that. Give them a frame of reference by presenting  in bulks rather than in pieces and let them choose the 'best deal'.

In his study, Airley presented 3 options to his participants: Online subscription: $59, Print subscription: $125, Online and print subscription: $125. The participants chose the combo subscription. But when he took out the third option, the participants went for the cheaper option.

If you want to increase conversions in your landing page, consider not just placing two options, but three. It will compel converting prospects to go for the option you are aiming for.

3. Availability Heuristic

Take it from the availability heuristic—people are greatly influenced by things that are readily available or are already registered in their minds. Thus, people overestimate the value of an information that is just around the corners of the brain.

Marketing Takeaways: How "available" are your content to the human mind? Let's use this heuristic and apply it with marketing strategies. Here are three things that you need to remember:

a. Keep your message short and sweet.

There is a slim chance that your audience is willing to exert effort in processing your content, regardless of how informative they may be. At best, you have to design your content to be clear and palatable. Give them something that they can easily chew on and digest.

That is why most marketers make sure that their main call-to-action buttons are easily located by their web visitors. A good example is how BookCab added their main CTA above the fold, and even took the time to make its design look uncomplicated.

The faster your audience can see your CTA and the easier they can digest what it is, the higher the chances of them taking action on it.

According to Reber (1998) and Winkielman & Cacioppo (2001), our bodies react positively to information that is processed fluently by our brains. In turn, this positive response influences judgment.

b. Relate to your audiences.

If your content is far-fetched, your audience will find it difficult to register the relevance of your campaigns to the templates that are registered in their brains. They may ask "How does this matter?"

With that being said, it is crucial to know your target audience and identify with what they already know, feel or subscribe to. Persona Mapping is a technique that content marketers use to personalize their campaigns and to strengthen their messages.

3. Be updated.

People register information better if they are constantly exposed to it or if it is recent news. Educate yourself with what's 'hip' and angle your Facebook updates or Twitter posts in such a way that rank well with the trending hashtags.

4. Message Processing

Most likely, the online user's brain is just in "Spontaneous Message Processing" mode—not giving too much thought about what they come across on social media platforms.

It's challenging to catch your audience's attention in Social Media. There are too many distractions—ranging from noisy notifications, bombarded sidebar ads and a bunch of opened tabs.

That being said, you need your messages to be as punchy as they can be.

Marketing Takeaway: Effective social media marketing is not about what information you present. It's about how you present the information. Therefore, here are 2 tips to improve your message:

a. Prioritize headlines

"Information  that  we  learn  first  is  weighted  more  heavily  than  information  that  comes  later"—in the Social Psychology lexicon, this is called the 'Primacy Effect'. The first thing your audience sees will determine if your content is worth reading. That is why your headlines can easily spell the difference between your content being ignored, or it being read. If you aren’t quite familiar with the ins and outs of creating magnetic headlines, you can check out one of CopyBlogger’s posts about it.

b. Social Proof

It's a basic tenet of the Social Learning Theory—we are influenced better by our peers and authorities. The best way to utilize this is to add testimonies of experts in your contents and to maximize the use of share buttons to show that your posts are actually gaining virality.

What's next?

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