The social media boon is all about ritual… (or addiction, perhaps a better name when you consider some Twitterers and Facebookers).”So, with the golden trio of triggers, motivation and ability, you are ready to start persuading people to change their behaviors. Here’s how:
Following are 6 principles in creating online persuasion. In the interest of full disclosure we are making great use of Jeff Sexton’s February 2010 review of the Robert Cialdini, PH.D book, “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion”.
- Reciprocation: It’s a crucial part of social media: we’re more likely to re-tweet someone who has already re-tweeted us. We link to people who have linked to us. And we tend to give a business far more trust after it has provided us with a lot of free value. If you focus on initiating reciprocity by providing no-strings-attached value to those in your network, you’ll ultimately wield far more influence. Following the law of reciprocity is how we’re wired as humans. Focus on creating value and initiating the reciprocity principle by gifting your social media contacts with high-value content, insights, reports, etc.
- Commitment and Consistency: “Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision,” Cialdini states. Purging your list of followers and unsubscribing would eliminate distractions and increase your social media signal-to-noise ratio.But most people never make that purge and hardly ever unsubscribe.Part of it goes back to reciprocation, but a larger part stems from consistency: you’re loath to admit that following and subscribing to those people and newsletters was a mistake. According to the principle of consistency, you’ll want to remind people of their previous positive commitments through perks, public displays, an elimination of friction for increasing their commitment, etc. Commit to consistent engagement on the social media platforms you chose to use, to the point of staying away from new social media platforms that you don’t have the resources to actively participate in.Use social proof as credibility cues where appropriate. Show off your number of subscribers next to the Subscribe button. Possibly use colleagues to “salt” your comments on important posts, build up your network by guest posting, commenting and re-tweeting.
- Social Proof: One way we determine correct behavior is to find out what other people think is correct. We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it. Most of us are impressed when someone has a ton of blog subscribers, Twitter followers, YouTube views, multiple blog reviews for their upcoming book and so on. Even when people game the system (autofollows and such), our core and initial emotional reactions stay the same. Creating a lot of value for others can help companies and individuals gain social proof via reciprocation: writing engaging content for guest posts, offering to interview authors and subject matter experts and so forth.
Not only do these activities provide social proof in themselves, but they can help you gain a support network capable of “salting” your blog.
- Liking:“We most prefer to say yes to people we know and like,” says Cialdini. Extensions of this principle are:
- Physical attractiveness creates a halo effect and typically invokes the principle of liking;
- We like people who are similar to us;
- We like people who compliment us;
- We like things that are familiar to us;
- Cooperation toward joint efforts inspires increased liking;
- An innocent association with either bad or good things will influence how people feel about us.
How does this work for social media? We give extra credence to attractively designed blogs, messages contained in videos with higher production quality and corporations’ landing pages displaying a better sense of social media savvy in their overall design and layout.
Similarly, individuals involved in coordinating joint ventures for the common good are associated with—and therefore “haloed” by—those efforts. As for complimenting others, what else is a re-tweet, a trackback, or a positive blog comment than a social compliment? Those are all activities you should participate in if you want to leverage the principle of liking to your advantage. Put the extra effort in on achieving professional and inspiring design. Dress for success on your blog, website and social media landing pages.
- Authority: Cialdini talks about “The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of authority.” In his book, he examines how authority can be conferred by (and also manufactured by) titles, clothes and trappings. In social media, authority is more about virtual trappings than about titles. The guy known for blogging about and offering intelligent commentary on a subject will likely have far more perceived expertise. The most direct measure of authority is the number of people who will buy or download a recommended resource based on little more than an authority’s endorsement.
- Scarcity: Apart from reciprocity, this is perhaps the most used persuasion tool in social media. When Bloggers open up a class, or inner-circle membership or subscription service, it’s always opens only a limited time, to a limited number. Smart bloggers create or leverage existing scarcity by saying a product, event or service has limited seating, or a limited-time offer. One online expert has a highly successful technique: a competition is held with free goods or services as a prize. When contestants don’t win, they value the prize more highly precisely because it is perceived as scarce. This makes them more likely to accept a consolation prize of getting the services at a slight discount. When creating a contest or trying to spark immediate action, use the scarcity principle to positive effect. But be honest about it—no changing “last day for” dates, no miraculously replenishing supplies, etc.
There is no “if” to persuasion, only “how.” The media have changed. Consumer use of the media has changed. But, persuasion still lies at the heart of our branded communication. How we manage the persuasion process, however, appears to have changed dramatically.