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Social, Self and Surprise - Urging engagement with psychology principles

Posted: 10 December 2014

It's no secret that engagement really is the be all and end all, especially when talking social. Engaged users take interest and action. Simple. Getting them engaged however is a very different, less simple story. Yes good content should get tongues wagging and fingers typing but how do you create these inspiring tweets, posts and articles? Well, a little psychology goes a long way...

Whether you’re trying to raise an army of brand ambassadors or going in for the big sell, identifying with a basic human emotion is the best way to influence action. We all want or need something, and if you can tap into that psychological source then relationships and results will quickly follow.

The ‘Why’ method - Persuade, engage and influence.

The human brain is a complex chap. To tap into an audience’s motivation we need to be a little more artful than ‘Buy this’ and post that. ‘Why’ methods are the ways in which we construct language to spark an action or emotion - persuasion, engagement or influence. Regardless of what you’re trying to evoke, it all stems back to psychology.

From posing some good old rhetorical questions to running click hungry social competitions, the ways in which we engage with audiences reflects the impact of our messages. You might think using psychology principals sounds a bit too abstract or expert, well, in fact it’s one of the most in-tune, natural ways to communicate. If you can get under the skin of an audience and resonate with a more than a ‘want’, you’re laughing. It’s all about self-perception, needs and desires.

Self-perception theory - The power of belonging.

It could be described as a ‘band wagon effect’ but simply put it’s about wanting to be perceived in a certain way or needing to belong. Think about the last thing you liked on Facebook or your most recent Retweet - what did it say about you? Was it funny? Did it express an opinion? Was it sourced from an influencer you admire? There’s more going on there than you realise.

And that question is the key to why employing self-perception is a psychological must. We all want to be seen as expert, entertaining, smart, valuable, and good engagement is geared to understand and facilitate that. If you can get self-perception savvy, you can offer audience’s more than a deal or Follow; you can fulfil a natural need and turn a follower into a fan.

  • Identify your audience and your own message - Define how your audience identify themselves and cater your message and content to be consistent with that. From professionals looking to be experts or users hoping to form a community, offer them it all. From tips and resources to hubs and conservations, uncover a deeper need than the surface aim.
  • Ask the big question - how do your audience want others to see them? This is where it all stems from. Before they share or post, this goes through the mind of every one of your ideal audiences’ mind. Do they want to inspire, connect, opiniate, entertain?
  • Do their interests align with your brand values and identity? - It’s another golden question. Transforming a casual Liker to an avid fan is about uncovering an interest, a message than can authentically shared and champion. You need to offer something of value, something that can further their sense of self. Everything from a funny video, expert e-book to a passionate petition can give readers a valuable asset to share. Look at form and function when creating your messages.

Simple psychology can have a massive impact. Instead of spewing content at audiences, cater it to them. Enhance their self-perfection and give them the tools to create an online identity, as well as offer them avenues to connect with similar others. Be the facilitator of belonging, that’s how communities are born.

The Psychology Toolbox - Emotion tapping, engagement urging wonders.

There’s loads of simple but impactful ways to nail engagement by digging a little deeper. It’s all about getting to the ‘Why’ - why would audiences take notice? Why are they inspired by your message? It starts with questions and ends with psychology.

These psych quick fixes are a glance-tastic rundown of some simple tools and tips that can take your message from claim to fame.

  • Keep it simple - Yep, it’s really very simple. The clearer and fuss-free your message, the more it will resonate. Don’t overcomplicate things.
  • Put them in the picture - The human brain is all about identifying and recognising people and images. If you introduce a human face to any marketing or brand equation, you’re much more likely to be remembered. I’m not recommending you make your logo a giant pic of your face, but opt for a face rather than logo for your social profiles, or try to associate the same type of frontman/lady with all your campaigns to inspire recognition.
  • Build suspense - Twitter campaigns are great for building suspense and working repetition into the fold. Certain phrases and words can become more trend-worthy than a concept so identify something unique and inspirational that audiences want attributed to their profile. Hashtags have evolved to be little verbal selfies, hanging onto each post and presenting your personality. Use them wisely to create a loyal fellowship.
  • Use Caps For Readability - It sounds obvious but too many folks think psychology needs to be a deep endeavour. Small things like Capping each word make a sentence more readable and so more likely to result in engagement. Try to employ rarely and smartly, Twitter is the most fitting.
  • Positivity is contagious so be nice! - The contagiousness of positivity spreads like wildfire online. With so many options available for sharing experiences and attitudes, affiliation and friendships have grown and developed wonderfully. This is something every brand would die for. Keep your content on the sunny side, light and digestible while offering a warm-hearted burst of sharing gold. Positive messages are way more impactful.

Social media had changed the way we relate to each other, as well as how we form our own identities. Too many modern campaigns neglect the roots of it all, where needs and desires actually come from. Today’s consumers, users and audiences are more intelligent, they recognise cheap tricks and do not approve.

Social content creates a greater sense of belonging. And wow, is that a powerful tool. It requires more than getting folk on-side or tempting with offers. Messages need to resonate and values have to align, so before you jump in with a few compassionate words or dabble in reversed psychology, ask yourself a question - what do you actually have to say and will others identify with it?

Do you like this stuff? Then join over 21,000 other awesome people who get tips on improving their employer brand, recruitment, marketing and the odd spot of career advice delivered directly to their inbox from me!

Twitter snippets.

  • (Click to tweet) Engaged users take interest and action. Simple.
  • (Click to tweet) Identifying with a basic human emotion is the best way to influence action.
  • (Click to tweet) Be the facilitator of belonging, that’s how communities are born.