Brands are constantly looking to get an edge over their competition on social media. Innovative brands use effective methods to get the audience’s attention and increase engagement, ultimately turning them into paying customers. Those methods include social media psychology tips.
Social media psychology tips are effective because they are based on how humans think and behave on these platforms. In other words, if you know how social media psychology theories work, you can churn out content that engages and get a leg up over your competition.
This article will highlight eight psychological tips you can use in your social media campaigns, whether they’re Facebook ads, Instagram stories, or LinkedIn updates.
When we get something – a gift, a compliment, or even some attention – our instinct is to reciprocate in equal or greater measure. That’s the concept of reciprocity. When you give something of value, you can expect something in return.
You should always reach out to your audience and offer them something of value that makes them feel a part of your brand. Something simple like striking up a conversation with your audience will encourage them to engage actively. The gift doesn’t need to be big, but just enough to trigger their sense of reciprocity.
Social media marketers use the reciprocity principle when offering coupons, free samples, and advice. The catch here is not to immediately ask for something in return. Instead, when you promote your products or services later, your audience will remember what you gave and, hence, be more inclined to make a purchase.
Besides, offering a gift to your audience makes them more likely to recommend you to their friends.
The giveaway above from Ombar Chocolate is a perfect example of reciprocity at play. The company is giving free products to multiple winners while using this as an opportunity to spread its brand awareness. After all, the entrants need to tag a friend in the post to be eligible for the free products.
2. Frequency illusion
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or frequency bias, is the feeling that once you see something new, you soon start seeing it everywhere.
This principle works well with confirmation bias. People have a natural tendency to interpret things in a way that reinforces their beliefs. They also tend to recall specific details that back up what they already know.
You can use these principles to your advantage in social media marketing. Once you have identified your audience, drill down into where they are and when they are there. Identify the type of content they like to consume, the hashtags they relate to, the topics they search for, and the social platforms they use. Create the content they like and fill it with your unique selling proposition and other facts that reinforce the positives they already know about your brand.
In marketing, retargeting works based on these principles.
Check out these retargeting ads from Mott and Bow. In the first Facebook ad, the jeans brand retargets its audience with this ad:
After a while, the same customer sees this ad on their Facebook newsfeed:
Notice that the brand promotes the same product in the two ads in different instances. It takes the opportunity to present a different product feature in the second ad, emphasizing its previous message that the same jeans are an excellent thing to purchase.
Both ads also use social proof, making them even more effective at engaging viewers and nudging them into action. We’ll get into social proof in a bit.
You can leverage the frequency illusion principle on other platforms, too. For instance, if you’re using Instagram Reels, just make sure you consider the Instagram Reels algorithm in creating your content.
3. Social proof
Social proofing is a potent social media psychology tool to attract and convert leads. Over 90% of readers claim that positive online reviews from actual customers influence their buying decisions. At the core, social proof drives customer behavior. The more positive reviews you can get from your customers, the more likely your leads will convert to your products and services. You can also use a guest posting service to improve your audience engagement.
Social proof extends from your social media posts’ likes and shares to actual reviews left by your customers. While some of this is beyond your control, you can always ask your loyal customers to leave reviews on your social pages. These reviews help you build engagement with your audience and increase your conversion rate.
Build ads around positive customer reviews for added social proof like LIFE Beam and Mott and Bow. If your brand has a physical presence, incentivize visitors to your store to check in on your social media and leave comments. That will help in amplifying your brand visibility.
4. Emphasize the human element
People connect with people, not companies. That is an essential social media psychology tip to keep in mind when building engagement with your audience. Give your brand a human face and personality that resonates with your audience. When you start a blog, make sure these elements are present in your output. Place these human elements on your social media pages, too.
Check out this example from Buffer:
To make their post more relatable, they incorporate pictures of real people. These are people who are always smiling, too, a reflection of Buffer’s fun personality.
You can take this one step further by ensuring that the “faces” match your audience in terms of gender and age. That will make it easier for your audience to connect with your brand, and they will subconsciously assume that your company shares their values and ideas. Another way to do this is to use models that align with the demography of your audience.
Every time you respond to your audience on social posts, ensure that the person posting has their picture in the post’s thumbnail. People want to feel like they’re interacting with real people, not bots.
The term, fear of missing out (FOMO) happens when you view an event and fear that you will miss out on it. This fear is often triggered by offers with a time limit on social media. You can leverage this fear as a social media psychology tip to raise your engagement with your audience and improve the ROI of your ad campaigns.
For instance, let’s say you’re creating a members-only Facebook group. You can trigger FOMO in your audience by explaining that special offers and tips will only be available to the members, thereby encouraging the audience to sign on to your group. Making an offer time-bound is one way to trigger FOMO in your audience. Another FOMO trigger is to highlight limited stocks, as in the Facebook post from Zara below.
The key to using the FOMO trick is to use it sparingly and humanely. Simple statements like, “the offer is valid for the next 24 hours, act now!” and “only 2 left in stock” are effective without being exploitative.
6. Exposure effect
The mere exposure effect is a social media psychology phenomenon backed by decades of research. Social psychologist Robert Zajonc discovered it in 1968. It hypothesizes that repeated exposure to the same thing prompts people to develop a preference for it over time.
The more familiar people are with something, the more likely they will like it and buy it.
Marketers across the board use the exposure effect in traditional advertising in television commercials, billboards, and print media. In digital marketing, you can leverage this principle, too. You can, for example, create a website for your brand and use a guest post service to increase your brand visibility on other websites.
You can post as frequently as possible on social media as well. Check out BambooHR, which sells human resources software. The company makes it a point to post multiple times a day and across different platforms.
So the content above on Facebook appears on BambooHR’s Twitter account as well:
If you’re a one-person social media team, you can follow BambooHR’s strategy to save time on creating content. Just make sure you make some minor tweaks to your social media copy to fit the requirements of the specific platform. For example, in our example above, BambooHR shortened the copy of one of its posts for Twitter and incorporated the “hiring” hashtag.
While the exposure effect marketing strategy might differ between social media advertising and traditional advertising, the effect remains the same at a fundamental level. Repeatedly viewing a brand’s message in your social media streams will, over time, influence your attraction and purchase decision for that brand.
7. Color psychology
Humans are visual creatures, and social media is a predominantly visual medium. Hence, another critical social media psychology driver is the use of colors in branding and messaging. Color psychology studies the effect of colors on our perceptions and behaviors. Marketers use colors to impact the audience and tailor their impressions of the brand.
At a subconscious level, the use of colors in marketing and branding focuses on how colors impact the consumers’ impressions of a brand and persuade the consumer to consider specific brands over others while making a purchase.
Color psychology is relevant while creating marketing assets, building a new business, or rebranding an existing one. In a study titled “Impact of color on marketing,” researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products were based on color alone.
Because colors play a critical role in consumers’ feelings about a product, selecting the appropriate color for each campaign becomes critical for advertisers. Marketers choose colors and tones that sync with the product, the brand image, and the customer’s preferences. The idea is to use colors to evoke positive feelings or thoughts, making the customer more likely to buy.
Check out this example from Slack. Because Slack is a fun brand and its target audience is primarily composed of young executives, professionals, and creatives, it uses fun colors such as pink, yellow, purple, and blue in its social media posts, too:
Color psychology in branding and advertising applies across all aspects of the brand, including:
- Product design
- Packaging design
- Website design
- Website content
You can also use audience research to identify the colors that best resonate with your audience to boost engagement and sales.
8. Build curiosity
All humans are curious by nature, and we’re constantly seeking more information on the topics that arouse our interest. According to the Harvard Business Review, curiosity is essential to an organization’s performance. It’s safe to assume that this applies to your company’s social media marketing and engagement.
Stop and think for a minute: In your crowded social media feeds, the posts that stand out and grab your attention are often the ones that leave you wanting to know more. That applies to your audience as well. Your audience is more likely to click on and engage with your posts on social media if you can arouse their curiosity.
You can start this process by teasing your audience about an exciting, upcoming announcement. That will make your followers more likely to tune in to your subsequent social media posts. Here’s a great example from Skittles:
After that one-liner that piques the audience’s curiosity, Skittles posts two pictures that still don’t give away what it’s working on. As a result, members of the audience can’t help but ask the brand itself:
Another way to build curiosity is to pose a question in your post or caption and tell users to click a link or read the comments to find out more.
Wrapping up Social Media Psychology
If you want to succeed as a social media marketer, you need to know how your audience thinks and behaves. That’s where knowledge of social media psychology theories can help you.
You learned eight theories from this article: reciprocity, frequency illusion, social proof, human face, FOMO, color psychology, and curiosity and exposure effect.
When using these eight psychological tips, it’s important to remember to be subtle in your approach. Don’t go over the top because it will come across as hustling your audience. You will lose them quickly.
Do this right, and you’ll engage your current followers more effectively. You might even attract new ones in the process.