5 Social Media Psychology Studies for Smarter Marketing

As marketing professionals, we all want to know how to create the best connection with our audience. What are their desires? Why do they care about certain products but not others? A large part of solving this puzzle is understanding who they are by learning more about their behaviors. 

While these actions can (and should) be studied on your website, they are just as important (if not more so) on social media. Why? With a review of audience actions, you can tap into what makes your users tick and can translate their needs into your marketing strategy.

Many human interactions that companies observe on their social channels can be traced to common psychological principals and there is a lot of information available that documents the way people act and react.

Americaneagle.com has put together five of the best social media psychology studies that can be leveraged to better cater to your user with more intelligent marketing tactics. 

1. You can earn more when you “get your foot in the door.”

The first study I will highlight is actually two studies that use similar “compliance” methods. The “foot-in-the-door” technique entails making a small request that will increase the likelihood that the subject agrees to a second, larger request.

From a marketing standpoint, we think about this technique as something to use consistently. For example, you offer your user regular incentives, such as a percentage off their purchase, free shipping, or buy-one-get-one (BOGO) offers. With every conversion, you grow your relationship with the customer. The bonds you make can later be used for larger requests, such as requesting that your user shares your brand or “follows” your company on social channels.

Marketers can also use the “door-in-the-face” method, making a large request first, which may be turned down. Even if it is, a related, smaller request is likely to be accepted. 

Consider this example: you ask your customers to submit videos about why they like your brand to be shared on social media. They may decline, but accept an alternative to submit a short testimonial about their recent purchase.  

2. Develop strategies around the concept of “social proof.”

We’ve all seen popular actors or athletes endorse products or services through commercials or advertisements. Chances are you might have thought about making a purchase from that brand. Would you have had that same thought if it was coming from a salesperson?

This example is one way to illustrate the concept of “social proof,” or the idea that humans adapt their behavior based on what others find valuable.

Robert Cialdini, a renowned expert in the growing field of influence and persuasion, notes in his research that social proof can be a highly effective tool for influencing others, as the opinion of many can influence the opinion of like-minded individuals.

A direct way to transfer this concept to real-world marketing is by supporting word-of-mouth recommendations and quality customer reviews.

Word-of-mouth guidance remains the most popular way to gain conversions, and companies that create strategies to get users to share a brand with their family and friends have a better opportunity to increase their audience than those who don’t.

Cultivating positive, quality consumer reviews should also be a vital part of your strategy as 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Infopreneur Business Coach Bailey Richert outlines a number of other great ways that marketers can use the social proof concept, such as: 

  • Getting customers to engage with your brand through user-generated content (UGC).
  • Increasing social media shares and followers by incorporating social media share buttons on your site and boosting your social media activity. 

You can also ask your customer if they had a positive experience by asking for a positive rating. 

3. Empower your customer to share your brand by leveraging positive content.

 You’ve likely heard the phrase “the power of positivity,” and it rings true when marketing to your customer on social media.

Studies by two universities discovered that positivity spreads.

Research by the University of Pennsylvania found that good news travels faster and further and users who see positive, emotional feeds write more positive posts. Further, a University of California San Diego study identified that posts made by people expressing a positive emotion influenced friends to create one or two additional positive posts (the same scenario was found for negative posts.)

As marketers, we can reach more of our audience through positive content. You may never intend to share negative content on social media in the first place, but positive content is more than just a smiling emoji with a sales pitch.

Create social media content that speaks to the positive emotions of your user. Posts highlighting employees who go above and beyond, or images of your teams giving back to the community are a great way to start. Get creative!

4. “Humanize” your brand by giving it a personality.

Companies often strike gold by creating a human personality to promote their brand. Think of it like a mascot for a sports team. However, the psychology behind the personality and how it is developed is much deeper.

The idea stems back to the 1990’s when it was defined by marketer Jennifer Aaker in the article “Dimensions of Brand Personality” that was published in The Journal of Marketing Research.

Aaker identified that different “dimensions” define brand personality, such as sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. These are combined with numerous traits for further definition.

Successful brands have culminated fictional characters for years that fit this methodology. The insurance industry heavily relies on them, especially when it comes to social media engagement.

For example, Jake from State Farm, Flo from Progressive, and the GEICO Gecko all have thousands of followers on Twitter, all from appearing on commercials and ad campaigns for their companies. Talk about having a platform of influence!

Each of these personalities draw on different dimensions. Flo is often overexcited and uses humor, while Jake is reactive and shows competence explaining that “everyone gets the same great rate.” 

Create a personality that speaks to the core principles of your brand and tell consumers what matters to you. Chances are, they might feel many of those same things and will want to connect.

5. Use the “propinquity effect” to maintain audience interest.

The “propinquity effect” deals with human interaction. In the 1950’s, psychologists Leon Festinger, Stanley Schachter, and Kurt Back surveyed students living in apartments and found the more frequently we interact with certain people, the more likely it is that we’ll form relationships with them. Those connections were also found to be more positive with additional interaction and even better when there are shared similarities.

Successful marketing campaigns regularly draw from this concept. Remaining in front of your audience is vital to that success by keeping your content, products, and opinions more visual.

Itzik Amiel, author and professional speaker, argues that for businesses and brands the concept should combine “physical propinquity” and “psychological propinquity.”

Physical propinquity involves the time spent with someone, leveraging affinity and similarities. “If you’re trying to win over a customer, your success is going to be in direct proportion to how frequently they communicate with you in person,” says Itzik.

Psychological propinquity deals with content exposure, getting close to your followers, and extending communication channels. Itzik believes that these methods move people from knowing you to liking you.

Americaneagle.com has the tools to grow your brand and optimize ongoing customer relationships. Our experience is built on psychological principles that we use to leverage success. From boosting traffic on social channels, to search engine optimization (SEO), event marketing, paid search management, and more, our digital marketing experts are ready to help you achieve your business goals. Learn more about our digital marketing services and contact us today to develop your digital mindset.  


About Author

Tyler Bachman is a Digital Content Writer on the Strategy team, motivated by creating useful and marketable content for a wide range of industries, from healthcare to transportation. With a strong foundation in journalism, digital media and broadcasting, he uses storytelling to create brand awareness and increase conversions for clients by incorporating the latest digital marketing and SEO tactics. Outside of the workplace, Tyler can be found golfing, playing with his dog Scout and performing with his band.


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