Psychology Behind Social Media Advertising
by Botond Miko

You can leverage social media platforms to connect and communicate with 3.484 billion active social media users. Businesses have quickly seized this social media marketing opportunity. As per a 2018 study, 90% of small and medium-sized businesses use social media marketing. In between traffic and conversion numbers, you might forget that there are real people on the other side of the screen, not data points. Businesses can incorporate relevant ideas found in social psychology to improve the effectiveness of their online marketing and social media strategies. Social psychology explores the ways in which people are influenced by their perceptions of the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of others.

1. Social Impact Theory / Social Proof

The social impact theory states that people are influenced by large groups that have a strong presence in their lives. You assume that the people surrounding you possess more knowledge about a situation and you follow their lead. In business, consumers are more likely to respond to a company?s influence if it is perceived as important, close to their frame of reference, and a large developed organization. Many brands show their number of customers served or a celebrity endorsement for establishing credibility. There are many different examples of social proof that you can use to increase your brand?s influence and to boost your sales.

2. Social Comparison

We often compare ourselves to others in order to assess our own abilities, strengths, thoughts, and feelings. In psychology, this is known as the social comparison theory. We socially compare ourselves to others when there is no precedent as to how to behave in a particular situation. According to some studies, as much as 10 percent of our thoughts involve comparisons of some kind. Social comparison theory is the idea that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others. Businesses use social comparison to benchmark and surpass the competition, as well as social media endorsements, some of which incorporate celebrities, to provide sincere testimonials about the product.

3. Impression Management

Impression management is a psychological term, which refers to the idea that people try to influence how others will see them. Social media is an ideal outlet for impression management. This theory is helpful in explaining why users post certain content online, including their preferences and opinions regarding activities, lifestyles and interests. Individuals develop personal brands by creating images of how they want to be perceived by those around them. Therefore, it can be very beneficial for a business to examine how these ?personal brands? align with its brand image and reputation. People join groups because they want to interact with those who are similar to themselves, a concept that can prove valuable when implementing social media plans. A business that structures its model to make consumers active participants in its daily decisions will cultivate a following of consumers who are engaged. By creating social profiles that reflect both the values of the company and its target consumers, the company generates more buzz and has the potential to trend, which will ultimately translate into more business.

4. Operant Conditioning

The process of operant conditioning occurs when the behaviors people exhibit are influenced by whether or not they are positively or negatively reinforced or punished. Users are more likely to return to a site if it engages them in discussions or activities because they find the experience enjoyable and develop a positive attitude toward interacting with the profile page. Develop content that is interesting and intriguing to encourage users to return more frequently and become your most loyal brand advocates. People share evidence of their worst and best times and all kinds of pain and happiness on their social media profiles. And, posts with higher emotional value get higher shares on social media networks. But among the 4 broad emotions (happiness, fear, sadness, and anger) ? Happinesshas been found to be more contagious within social media marketing, than the negative ones. Statistically, positive social media posts prompt an average of 1.75 more positive responses from friends. Negative posts across social networks prompt 1.29 more negative posts. Rather than just being nice with your costumer there are some practice to make the costumer journey more enjoyable. Social affirmation, such as Facebook ?Likes? and retweets, makes us feel as if the content we post is valuable. Businesses show that they value and relate to their followers by affirming their choice of content. Gamification is one method businesses use to incorporate operant conditioning. Consumers are rewarded for performing certain tasks, as they would be if they were playing a video game. However, instead of moving to the next level, they can earn achievement badges and virtual currency, receive free merchandise, or obtain additional discounts for ?check-ins? at restaurants or stores, posting a certain number of comments, or answering a quiz.

5. Baader Meinhof phenomenon

Suppose you heard someone say SEO. And, suddenly, it started to appear everywhere. Due to its recency, you?d be more aware of the subject. So, it sticks to your memory and you won?t simply pass it by. This is called the Baader Meinhof phenomenon or the frequency illusion. And, it isn?t limited to learning words, but even your personal experiences. If you?re considering buying an Audi, you?ll notice more Audi cars on the road.

6. Propinquity Effect

The propinquity effect states that the more we interact with someone, the more likely they are to become our friends. By facilitating chats amongst members, whether it is in a forum, blog, post, or contest, businesses enable followers to become more involved. Consumers will then correspond with the businesses via social media and become more invested in their overall brand images.

7. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

FOMO is a social anxiety stemmed from the belief that others might be having fun while the person experiencing the anxiety is not present. It is characterized by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing. FOMO is also defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to concerns that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience or a profitable investment. It is the fear that deciding not to participate is the wrong choice. In a study by My Life, more than half of the total social media users were afraid of missing out on an important update or news. So, they don?t stray away from the feeds of their social media channels for long.

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