Why you need to know about psychology for social media success

All of our actions, whether online or offline, can be explained in some way by science and psychology. Social media is no exception.

Of course some content is simply shared because it pulls on the heart strings, but there is so much more to why we choose to like and share posts. The Temporal Parietal Junction (TPJ) is the part of the brain that is activated when someone considers whether or not to share something. It is located on both sides of the brain and effectively is what controls our empathy.

A study by researchers from the University of California have sought to discover why we choose to share some posts, but leave many, many others untouched. When you see an image that you choose to share, this is your TPJ firing into action. Marketing strategies that are more likely to be shared can effectively increase your visibility and, in turn, your conversion rates.

Social Proof

Quite simply, we don’t want to be the first person to share content. We want to share something that we know will be well received by our friends, followers or connections — or something that is already popular. This fact is demonstrated by the dramatic decrease in shares to Twitter after they removed the tweet counts from their share buttons.

People are far more likely to trust the opinions of other people over a brand, so seeing something has been shared many times indicates to them that this content must be good.

From a more personal perspective, individuals also usually have some form of trust-based relationship with those in their network. This means that they rate the content they choose to share as worthwhile and valuable — or surely their friend wouldn’t have shared it?

This does mean that marketers need to look beyond demographics. They do of course need to consider this, however marketers need to look deeper and consider what kind of content their audience would like to share with their friends and family.

Gestalt Laws

Gestalt, a German philosopher stated that human behaviour cannot be fully understand by looking at the individual components, behaviour needs to be viewed as a whole. This principle is very relevant to social media and marketing in general.

1) Law of Pragnanz: The human brain is designed to like simplicity. We process simple concepts and designs faster than complicated ones. Therefore when considering social media content, it needs to be simple: simple ideas, simple patterns, simple graphics. the human brain will often process images as a series of smaller images rather than one large one.

2) Law of Continuity: Humans like things that align visually. When creating images as social media content, elements that are aligned linearly will create a bigger impact.

3) Law of Similarity: Grouping similar items together (colours, shapes, sizes) will mean that they will be perceived as a group.In terms of marketing, this can be used to group items together. For example, when creating an infographic, using colours to group sections or similar items together will make it more readable and visually pleasing.

Build relationships and be authentic

People are more likely to share content from people that they know. They will consider their content more trustworthy and worthwhile. Likewise, they’ll be more likely to accept information and ideas, so creating a trusting online presence is key. Resolving complaints with customers, admitting mistakes and generally creating an authentic personality for the brand can be essential.

Innocent are a great example of how this can done well. They interact with their customers, answer complaints and generally have created a personality for the big brand name. Along with simple, catchy and engaging content, this has enabled them to create a trusted brand that receives a high level of engagement.

Understanding your audience and how their mind works is crucial when creating social media content. Social media usage is constantly increasing, the key for marketers is to increase the amount of time that their audience are interacting with them!

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