7 ways to leverage psychology for effective social media marketing

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Over the past ten years, social media has become such an integral part of the way that we live. We almost see it as a sort of monolithic entity. However, social media is just a bunch of human beings coming together to communicate at its core — nothing to be afraid of.

They follow the same psychological principles as they do anywhere else! That’s good news for us marketers since we can leverage those psychological principles for effective social outreach. In this guide, we’ll discuss those concepts and how they can be best applied to your business’s social media strategy.

Let’s dig in.

1. Keep it Colorful

The importance of color is constantly emphasized in all kinds of marketing, and social media is no exception. Of all the people that view your social media content, up to 90% of them will form their impression based on colors alone. Suffice it to say, you’ve got to nail your color scheme.

The exact colors you choose for your content should be an extremely strategic decision. As indicated in the graphic above, specific colors convey specific emotions. Therefore, the precise colors you choose should match the overall tone of your brand and encourage the user to feel exactly what it is you want them to feel.

An intelligent color scheme will skyrocket engagement and lead to more conversions for your business. On the other hand, a poorly-chosen palette will lead to consumer dissonance and a lack of engagement.

2. Encourage FOMO

At some point in your life, there’s probably been a time when you’ve scrolled through your friend’s Instagram feed wishing you were doing whatever they’re doing. In that moment, you were suffering from “the fear of missing out,” also known as “FOMO.”

That fear is a powerful motivation you can leverage to engage your audience without being toxic. One of the best and most audience-friendly ways to do this is to have a regular schedule of content rolling out. Make sure to encourage your followers to enable notifications for your posts, and you’ll have them coming back regularly to make sure they haven’t missed anything.

Alternatively, consider timed offers to foster a scarcity mindset. For example, the classic “this offer won’t last long” is a classic for a reason!

3. Appeal to Authority

If you can speak to your target audience through a trusted source, you can much more easily establish a relationship with them. This happens through influencers — people with an established following in their niche on social media.

In the above example, Calvin Klein leverages Kendall Jenner’s fashion influence to establish their brand as fashionable in the eyes of her audience. Similarly, Rare Beauty uses Selena Gomez’s beauty clout to inspire her TikTok fans to copy her and buy her product.

These brands intelligently appealed to authorities in the niche they were targeting to significant effect. It’s not hard to understand why; it’s simply leveraging the power of trust! A good influencer marketing campaign presents your product to potential customers as if it were a friend recommending it to them.

4. Foster a Community

People will always seek a sense of belonging in any setting, and social media is no exception. Every person who chooses to follow you is a potential member of your consumer family, and you need to treat them as such. This kind of approach will turn your customers into true followers of your brand.

Things like Facebook community pages, meme contests, giveaways, and even just leaving your DMs open are all great ways to engage your following as a community and really make them feel special.

The above example is the Facebook community of Adam Enfroy, a foremost authority in the blog-building community. He uses his Facebook community group to interact with his followers personally and turn them into a loyal community. It’s that kind of behavior that will make your followers feel at home.

5. Focus on Value

More than just building leads or making sales, the content you publish should provide value to your followers more than anything else. The importance of this principle can’t be emphasized enough — if visitors to your profiles don’t derive actual value from your content, they don’t have any real reason to return.

Don’t ever produce low-quality content for the sake of having content. Visitors will instantly detect your posts’ plastic, artificial tone and always associate that with your brand. So whenever you’re creating any sort of content for your followers, always make sure that it’s going to be something that genuinely helps them.

Even better, take the time to do something for your followers that doesn’t necessarily help you in any growth sense.

In this Instagram post, Shopify asks their followers not to make a sale or buy a new product but to care of their mental health. Content like this will tell your customers that your brand is made up of real people who care about them and want to see them grow as people.

6. Think About Representation

In your brand’s promotional material, make sure that you fully represent the kinds of people you’re targeting in mind and body. Representation means thinking about the human models you choose to place in your promotional material, your target audience’s vocabulary, cadence, general life situation, and more.

Think about an advertisement for a life insurance company. You’re not going to see pictures of young people coupled with a casual, carefree dialogue about mortality. Instead, you’re more likely to see middle-aged people spoken to in a relatively severe tone. Why? Because they’re meeting their audience where they are.

Let’s expand upon this point (on a lighter note):

Starbucks’ Instagram posts predominantly consist of Generation Y and Z young people modeling their products in a casual, fun, and uplifting way. They also feature fan Twitter posts and artsy photos to represent their audience’s way of life further. Fully reflecting your follower’s lifestyle is representation done right.

7. Create Social Proof

In the earliest days of television, CBS producer Charley Douglas had a problem with his studio audiences. They were either laughing too loudly, for too long, at the wrong times, or not at all. In response, he came up with a solution: he would play the exact kind of laughter he wanted — whenever he wanted — using prerecorded reactions.

Thus was born perhaps the greatest example of social proof, which Wikipedia defines as “[the] psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.”

That sounds like a mouthful, but it’s really simple — it’s just using people to persuade other people to do something. There are many ways to accomplish this in social, but the essence of it is to simply put the popularity of your brand on display.

Think about reviews, bestsellers lists, influencer marketing, and more. It’s all about appealing to the popularity and broad recognition of your product.

Wrapping Up

You don’t need a doctorate to leverage psychology and reach your audience on a deeper level. In this article, we discussed seven psychological principles you can focus on right now in your social media outreach:

  1. Keep it Colorful
  2. Encourage FOMO
  3. Appeal to Authority
  4. Foster a Community
  5. Focus on Value
  6. Think About Representation
  7. Create Social Proof

If you can effectively utilize these principles in your social strategy, you’ll have a huge edge over your competitors. Happy psyching!

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