How thoughtful social media strategy can influence people to buy (by Daniel Hebert)

Let’s face it:  Consumers are not logical.  Social media users are no exception.

And because they are not logical, brands exist.  Nobody is Spock.  A consumer either wants a product, or needs a product.  But why do they prefer certain brands over others? It’s not because it makes more sense to buy brand A over brand B when both products do the same thing.  As consumers how do we decide that a brand is better?   There are a lot of psychological factors that play into the decision.   Here are some best practices for how a brand can use social media to earn consumer loyalty.

Finesse their Emotions

Consumers have an emotional attachment towards brands. I would never buy anything but “Kraft peanut butter”, “Heinz ketchup”, or “Tide detergent.” These are the brands I grew up with – the brands my mother used to give me.  They remind me of my childhood.  If you can create an emotional attachment to your brand, consumers will be loyal.

  • Share pictures that trigger nostalgia, and how your brand was there ‘when times were better.’
  • Share content or videos that trigger laughter. When people are happy, they buy things. Make your customers laugh!
  • Kittens, puppies, and babies always work! Post anything that is cute, and let people comment on it.

Use Principals of Reciprocity

If you like them, they’ll like you back!  Have you ever heard of Joe Girard?  He used to sell an average of six cars per day when he was a car salesman.  The reason why he was so successful was because of these three simple words: “I like you.”

  • Be nice to your customers online!  Thank them every chance you have.
  • If a customer complains online, offer help and be genuine about it.  They’ll appreciate it!

Vary Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards

The reason why Facebook works so well is because of social rewards.  The word “Like” is used for a reason: when people post something on a social media channel and others “Like” it, they feel good. Social rewards = intrinsic rewards.  If Facebook had not used the word “Like”, would it be as successful?

Now compare Facebook to Groupon.  Groupon is less successful because they use extrinsic rewards.   They give their users discounts which users quickly tire of (and leave).  Nobody is as loyal to Groupon as they are loyal to Facebook. You can use these same principals of intrinsic vs. extrinsic rewards for your social media strategy.

  • Draw people in with extrinsic rewards – use discounts, coupons, limited time offers, etc.
  • Weed out extrinsic rewards gradually, but introduce more chances for intrinsic rewards.
  • Examples of intrinsic rewards: Empower your top fans by thanking them (Radian6 does a good job at this on their Facebook Page), do photo captions, encourage your fans to post on your brand’s page (and thank them for it).  These are the types of rewards, not coupons, that will keep your social media fans engaged.

Motivation vs. ‘Easiness’ Is Key

The less a customer is motivated to participate with your brand, the easier it has to be for them to participate.  The harder it is to participate, the more motivated they need to be.  This is what BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Model is all about.

  • Make sure it is as easy as possible to find your brand.  Update your SEO, make sure your content is easy to share with social share buttons, etc.
  • Make your calls to action as simple as possible.  Ask yourself, am I making it incredibly, stupidly easy that they just have to follow through?   Does it take 2, 3, 5, or 10 steps for customers to make a purchase (or get a quote)?   Face it, most consumers are lazy.  That one extra step might be the difference between closing a sale, or closing your web page.


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