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Psychological Studies Every Social Media Marketer Should Know About

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 11/23/14 10:00 PM
Topics: social media, Marketing to Students

Kevan Lee, a blogger for Buffer, has compiled a list of 15 psychological studies that those of you working in social media marketing will find helpful. We have re-posted an excerpt from Kevan's article below, but we encourage you to read the entire thing, which you can find here:

3. Consistency Principle

We like to keep consistent what we think, say and do, and will change to ensure this is so.

The research: Princeton researchers asked people if they would volunteer to help with the American Cancer Society. Of those who received a cold call, 4 percent agreed. A second group was called a few days prior and asked if they would hypothetically volunteer for the American Cancer Society. When the actual request came later, 31 percent agreed.

Marketing takeaway:

Help current customers and potential users create an expectation of what they may say or do. For instance, get users to opt-in to a marketing course and offer tools at the end that are used by expert marketers. Subscribers may wish to stay consistent with their stated goal of improving their marketing, and signing up for recommended tools will fall right in line with this expectation.

4. The Foot-in-the-Door Method

When asked to make a small commitment first, we are more likely to agree to a larger request later.

The research: The first study on the foot-in-the-door method was performed in the 1960s by Jonathan Freedman and Scott Faser. Researchers phone a number of homemakers to inquire about the household products they use. Three days later, the researchers called again, this time asking to send a group of workers to the house to manually note the cleaning products in the home. The women who responded to the first phone interview were two times more likely to respond to the second request.

Marketing takeaway:

Ross Simmonds of has a great take on what this means for marketers: “The more frequently a customer opens your emails, downloads your content or goes along with your request, the more likely they are to comply with a larger request like sharing your content & inviting their friends.”

5. Framing Effect

We react to a situation differently depending on whether we perceive the situation to be a loss or a gain.

The research: Researchers Amos Tverksy and Daniel Kahneman polled two different groups of participants on which of two treatments they would choose for people infected with a deadly disease.

  • Treatment A: “200 people will be saved.”
  • Treatment B: “a one-third probability of saving all 600 lives, and a two-thirds probability of saving no one.”

The majority of participants picked Treatment A because of the clear and simple gain in saving lives.

In Group 2, participants were told the following:

  • Treatment A: “400 people will die.”
  • Treatment B: “a one-third probability that no one will die, and a two-thirds probability that 600 people will die.”

The majority of participants picked Treatment B because of the clear negative effect of Treatment A.

Marketing takeaway:

The words you use and the way you frame your content has a direct impact on how your readers will react. Whenever possible, frame things in a positive light so that readers can see a clear gain.

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