The entire point of any marketing strategy is to persuade and influence your audience. This is no different when it comes to social networking for business, and the very best social media campaigns are geared towards persuading the audience towards a certain, pre-ordained outcome.
Persuasion is defined as the process by which one can change or reform beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, or opinions towards a predetermined outcome. It is affected by the persuader through voluntary compliance on the part of the persuadee. It involves making others want the same thing as you do and for them to also be keen to act as you wish them to. Effective persuasion involves neither negotiation nor meeting in the middle; there is no compromise involved in the transaction. When persuasion is affected well, the “opposing” party will embrace your position regardless of their previously held stance.
Influence refers to how you as a business or brand impacts on your message of persuasion. Are you perceived as credible, appealing and trustworthy? When you can motivate others to behave in a certain way using your methods of persuasion and your influence, you have the ultimate power in the marketplace.
The best social media campaigns will effectively use the platform to build a brand and business, and this involves mastering the art of persuasion.
The art and science of persuasion
Consumer psychology plays an integral role in any successful campaign of social networking for business. When you as a business owner and a brand understand how to capture the attention of the consumer, influence their decisions, and motivate purchasing through clever communication, you are poised for success.
By understanding the basic socio-psychological principles of influence and persuasion, you can apply these to any marketing strategy, including that of social media marketing, to achieve your objective and ultimately succeed.
6 powerful techniques for social media persuasion
It is a social norm that we are compelled to respond to a favour with another favour, particularly if the initial favour was unexpected or unsolicited. By doing for another or giving some kind of gift, they will feel more inclined and obliged to agree to your request. A classic and common example of this philosophy at work is when you receive letters in the mail soliciting donations and there is included with the request some kind of small gift (pen, cards, calendar, etc). These “free” samples exist only to persuade and influence the recipient to take action and reciprocate – by donating to the cause.
Reciprocity exists in social media in an array of forms: Retweeting or sharing another who has shared us; linking to people who have linked to us; liking for like. It is also affected by social media marketers with content. Providing the audience with free information and content they value will encourage them to recommend your site and to purchase from it in the future.
- Consistency and commitment
It’s human nature to seek to be consistent; it speaks to authenticity. This is why it is much easier to keep an existing customer than it is to create a new one. People generally wish to behave according to their prior commitments and to be seen to be consistent. For this reason, few people ever hit the unsubscribe button; few unfollow or delete contacts.
This human quality can be used in marketing to achieve higher conversion rates; customers or visitors to the site are convinced to make a small commitment, for example, creating an account for free. When, over time, the visitors to the site perceive themselves as loyal to the brand, they are more inclined to be so – and will also reap the benefits of easy access to goods and services offered on the site. This works conversely as well, with the business or brand rewarding loyalty in the form of special deals, rewards, and gifts. This is a clever way of reminding customers and followers of their prior positive commitment to the brand.
How do you apply this principle to your social networking for business?
Offer limited, time-sensitive free trials, attract consumers with content, and encourage click through after click through.
- Social proof
This refers to the human trait of following trends, or less-flatteringly, “sheep mentality”. The vast majority of us look to others to glean what is the thing to do; whether it is correct behaviour or the latest trend that must be followed. People respond to social media accounts that have loads of followers, for example. When we feel uncertainty about any decision, we observe what others we respect (or aspire to) are doing. This is why a brand that has an appealing celebrity attached to it (or who is a fan) will grow exponentially.
People on the whole will follow trends – many without giving said trend much individual thought. We act in accordance with our own socio-economic group or tribe does in the pursuit of acceptance – whether it be a conscious decision to do so or a subconscious one.
As a business owner or marketer, this trait can be harnessed to increase the reach and conversion rates of your social media campaign. Concentrated social media efforts based on your target audience are the key – demonstrating collective approval and appeal.
- Appeal, sympathy and likeability
Those of greatest influence are those we like. It can be people we respect for altruistic reasons, or for something as superficial as physical appearance. We like things and people that are:
- Physically attractive
- Familiar to us
- Similar to us
- Complimentary to us
- Working collaboratively with us, and
- Associated in any way with something we view as positive
People are more likely to be influenced by and purchase from people who are similar to themselves or those who they aspire to emulate. It is very rare that a person will buy something from someone they do not like. How does this apply to social media marketing?
To build on your conversion rates, create an inviting page with both visual appeal and valuable information. Include an informative About Us page to showcase your brand to potential customers and delineate what you offer from your competition.
Consumers feel connected when they feel a brand or business both understands them and represents their interests, as well as reflecting who they are.
Another human trait is to generally follow and respect authority figures. This applies for many even when said figures are questionable – look at how so many take cues from politicians.
If a consumer is second-guessing a purchase, they will be positively swayed by a testimonial from a person they perceive as having authority on the subject. This is why so many successful marketing and advertising campaigns have at their core a professional or expert to provide a positive outlook on the product or service. An example of this is when a renowned author gives a recommendation for a new book by a lesser known writer; or an elite athlete gives their seal of approval on a sporting goods product.
Position yourself as an authority in your field – with a regular, informative blog (link to blog about blogging), limited to your legitimate field of expertise. If any leader in your industry comments positively on your brand in any way, share this on your page.
Nobody likes to miss out. Any entity that has limited availability is naturally much more appealing to consumers. Savvy marketers create time-sensitive or numbers-sensitive deals and services. Examples on social media include prize giveaways for members and competitions that rely on sharing and liking. When the perception is that supply is low or demand is high, consumers will naturally become more interested, be more willing to pay a higher price and opportunities will seem to be much more valuable and not to be missed.
As a brand and as a business owner, you want to not only be a part of the wider conversation; you want your “voice” to be heard, listened to, valued and repeated. You want your message to be influential and for this to happen you need to be persuasive. The above principles will see you on your way to success. They have been used for decades in traditional marketing and are today just as applicable to social networking for business purposes.
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