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5 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Marketing with Psychology

  • 5
  • February 8, 2017

improve social media marketing

Looking to improve your social media marketing? Of course you are!

Good news! By utilizing the power of simple psychology, you can increase the number of people that engage with your social media marketing and, even better, share it.

Often times, science “gets” our online behavior better than even experienced marketers. And it doesn’t always depend on people’s needs or even logic.

People look for various types of content for various reasons – some of which they may not be consciously aware of. It all depends on their tastes, emotions, and wishes any particular moment.

Understanding what lies behind the motive of consuming and sharing content will help you develop better social media marketing strategy.

Learn how to tap into the following five psychology concepts to create posts people are interested in and can’t help sharing:

1. Create shareable content by making it relatable

According to PlayBuzz, 77% of their quizzes that have been shared more than 100k times are personality quizzes. But have you ever stopped to think about why personality quizzes are so popular on social media? The main reason is that people seek to define themselves by sharing info about themselves on social media.

People have a deep-seeded need to show others who they are. Focus on creating social media posts that people will relate to so much that they cannot help but share it.

Quotes and inspiring statements are great ways of providing quick posts people identify with and want to share. It allows them to showcase their personality through your content.

Bruce Van Horn, a teacher and coach who helps people realize their full potential in life, consistently tweets out positive affirmations and they get shared a lot. People identify these messages and share them as a form of self-expression.

These messages also almost certainly make people feel positive about Bruce himself. This serves him well as you’ll see when we get to the Halo Effect discussion below.

2. Provide your readers with up-to-the-minute content

Apart from emotional and practical content, readers want to be in the know. Strive to stay ahead of your competitors with the hottest news in the your niche. You can cover various topics on politics, culture, technology or anything interesting for your audience.

Being the first to share important or interesting news is a powerful motivator. If you’re showing people something that interests them and they’ve never seen it, they’ll be quick to share. They want to be the one who shows everybody else this awesome info!

People will also identify your you as an authority when you’re consistently sharing new, relevant information for your audience.

Build trust with your audience by adding this posting strategy to your social media best practices toolbox.

3. Give practical and actionable content to your audience

A person feels gratitude from receiving free valuable information. It’s a natural reaction you can harness to strengthen your connections on social media.

The question is how to define what content is valuable for your specific audience.

Reputable sources like BuzzSumo focus on practical, actionable, useful, and targeted content.  This article from CoSchedule discusses the nature of shareable content. It has lots of practical explanations on content types. Check out the chart below to see which content is the most shareable:

social media marketing content types coschedule

As you can see, infographics win in the rankings. And it’s not surprising. This type of content corresponds to the key features of valuable content. Infographics are practical because they present only the key points and researched data with statistics.

4. Use the Halo Effect to help convert your prospects

Valuable and educational content go a long way toward the long-term success of your social media marketing strategy – and, let’s face it, cat GIFs will (probably) never get old.

This is where you can harness the power of the Halo Effect in your marketing on social. The Halo Effect is a cognitive bias where people attribute an overall positive sentiment about a person (or business/brand) to specific traits as well.

For instance, psychology has showed that when people are perceived as more physically attractive they are often also assumed to be smarter, kinder, funnier, etc.

So how can you apply this to your social media marketing strategy? Use social media to make people feel good about your brand by being humorous, providing valuable information, inspiring with quotes and affirmations, etc.

Once people feel positive sentiment about your business from your social media marketing, they will unconsciously attribute a more positive sentiment about your product or service.

Of course, at that point it’s up to you not to disappoint. The Halo Effect can help you get customers but it won’t help you keep them for long if your business fails to produce.

5. Understand the psychology of six sharing personas

What motivates people to share your content? First, you need to know social sharing personas of your audience. The New York Times Customer Insight Group made a research defining 6 types of sharing personas.

  • Altruists share useful content to stay connected.

  • Careerists choose particular content for their network.

  • Hipsters share content that identifies them.

  • Boomerangs build their image and express their emotions with shared content.

  • Connectors share information that helps stay closer to their friends.

  • Selectives focus on educational content and share only serious content.

Motivators of sharing unite all these personas. These common traits are emotional bond, self-presentation, the life role, and being the first to share.

The Insight Group study was further supported by the Fractl research on Facebook. It singled out five types of the same personas – eliminating Careerist from the list. However, this research defined some new psychological motivators:

  • Your content should be useful and educating. 55% of altruists want to share something useful for their friends.

  • Your content should be image-conscious. 41% of boomerangs and hipsters avoid sharing content that could make them look bad.

  • Post content that allows people to make connections with their friends. 53% of connectors want to feel close to their friends via shared information.

  • Avoid controversy in your content. 31% of selectives avoid sharing hot-button content to their friends.

So if you want your content to go viral, try to target it to one of these sharing personas. But don’t try to embrace all the types of personas at once. Concentrate on one or two at a time or else your posts will become muddled and confusing.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it – 5 ways to use psychology to improve your social media marketing. Add some (or all) of these tactics in your social marketing toolbox to see some really positive results.

So what do you think? Are there any of these ideas you’re excited to try? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

improve social media marketing pinterest

Author Veronica Hunt

Veronica Hunt is an edtech expert and an experienced content marketer from Philadelphia, PA. She sees her purpose in providing her audience with up-to-date info in the spheres of digital marketing, entrepreneurship and psychology. Apart from work, Veronica adores traveling and yoga. Follow @VeronicaHuntt on Twitter.

More posts by Veronica Hunt
  • Good stuff, thanks! It’s very interesting to see social sharing broken down this way.

    • Hey Jonathan! Thanks for reading and commenting! Is there any particular tactic you’re excited to try?

      • Not really. The biggest takeaway for me was the different sharing personalities and how to appeal to them. I’d not really thought about content in those terms but that an interesting experiment to try.

  • Agnesa Tobias

    I enjoyed the article.. For me as a DM student its a valuable information. Thank you Veronica ..

    • Hi Agnesa,

      Really glad you enjoyed the post! Cheers!

  • oreoluwa kushimo

    Well done Veronica! Social media and psychology is a good combo, and you’ve just given very useful information on how to get the best from it. Although, I feel providing your readers with up-to-the-minute content depends on your persona (or at least, the one your trying to portray). You can bring back old content,if that’s your aim, and still attract people who can relate (people in your niche).

    • Hi Oreoluwa, thanks for reading and commenting. Great point about bringing back older content. As long as it’s evergreen (or updated) no need to let great content go to waste!

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