Psychological levers for a social media marketing approach

The recognition of Internet and social media as communication tools led to consider new marketing approaches. Far from being based on superficial principles, these 2.0 marketing strategies depend on real psychological levers. Consequently, analyse these levers would surely help brands in targeting audience and their needs.
Why do people express themselves on social media ? What are they looking for through these media ?
What are the reasons they need to exchange ?

Here are some psychological levers a relevant social-media strategy should take into account :

I) Humans are social animals

Humans are a part of society, they are social animals. Consequently, they need to communicate, to exchange on a daily basis. According to Nestor Fernandez Sanchez, psychologist and author, : « Social media break time and space barriers to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships thanks to the exchange of ideas. ». And these connections embody so many opportunities for brands to exchange with potential customers.

II) Seeking fame and need for recognition

Social media offer a new space and new opportunities for people who seek fame. For some of them, being famous on social media naturally means they are also famous in real life. Unfortunately, it can lead to Herostratus syndrome (a 4th-century BC Greek arsonist, who sought notoriety by destroying the Temple of Artemis. His name has become a metonym for someone who commits a criminal act in order to become famous.), one of unintended negative effects of social media. Not everyone wants to be famous, but all of us are looking for signs of recognition by our peers.
Actually, any human needs them, as a cornerstone of self-esteem. And these phenomena are deeply linked to the sense of belonging. According to psychologist Monica Quintana, our mindset is partly connected to the need, as human being, to belong to a community, something bigger than yourself.
« We need to be recognized by others in order to have a good self-esteem.».   We try to belong to a group, a community, either explicit or implicit. Getting involved in a community by sharing information, comments, and above all obtaining a reaction from your peers provide a social recognition.
We also like to exchange to show our individual perception to others. Carl Rogers make a critical analysis, saying that our personality is composed of the « True self » and the « Ideal self». Indeed, we increase the chances that get us closer to our ideal self. Here are some practical examples : publicly
support a politician to express your belonging to his movement, follow an artist to show your musical taste or share a funny video to expose your sense of humour.

III) Reciprocity

When setting up a social-media marketing strategy, brands have to keep in mind that they are constantly watched by users and potential customers. In order to generate an effective mutual relationship, the brand has to make the first move and offer a useful, qualitative content. The aim is to
create and maintain relationship with the customer, thanks to recipes, tutorials, or storytelling for instance. According to a New-York Times survey, 94% of users attach great importance to the usefulness of information they share. Consequently, it is the brand’s job to be particularly careful to the content they produce.

IV) Social proof

The social proof phenomenon influences the consumer behavior. Concretely, it is about how many times the brand is named (thanks to comments, reviews, advocating articles …). In marketing terms,
we talk about organically generated stimuli of the brand the consumer faces through his journey on social media. How to maintain the positive impact of these stimuli ? Answer cleverly to both positive and negative comments, thank your follower and engage the community even more.

V) Scarcity

A scarcity strategy can be truly efficient, as it is based on FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), common feeling among regular users of social media. In fact, by offering an exclusive content or time-limited offers, the brand take advantage of a potential emotional distress a consumer can feel if he misses
information, opportunities or gifts. For instance, giveaway contest.

VI) Turn to consumer advantage

Finally, a very down-to-earth yet persistent lever is that most of users actions on social media are motivated by the fact that they can concretely take advantage of their engagement toward a brand (gifts, discount codes, etc). A survey shows that 67% of respondent users have ever liked a brand page in order to receive special offers.
To sum up, a social- media marketing strategy rests upon fundamentally human psychological levers and also psychological behaviors intensified by the context of social-media. As a result, it becomes essential for a brand to :
– Understand the psychology of its audience
– Understand deep explicit and implicit motivations of its audience. Why is the user present on this platform? As a brand, how can I fit in exchanges ? What is the specific web navigation path on this specific platform ?
How ? Thanks to analysis, scientific search, brand engagement. It may read tedious, but very helpful to identify an relevant customer persona, customer path to purchase through web navigating
behavior.