Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tapping into the minds of your audience: The psychology of social media


Many digital marketers make a common error from the outset when planning their content marketing campaigns.
The tendency is to think "what shall we give our audience?" when it is just as important to ask "why should they care?"
As well as these inevitable threats there lie opportunities for marketers if they can understand what motivates people to retweet, share, plus one, like and comment on content.
We hear a lot about the word “engagement”, but just what is it? We see that as the point at which customer-focussed content linked to business objectives meets the demands that target audiences want satisfied, be that the answer to a specific question, a general quest for knowledge in a particular field or just purely entertainment.
If marketers can find that sweet spot where their content satisfies consumer demand then they stand a chance at being successful at content marketing. They have achieved engagement.


How can we as marketers provoke an emotional response?

Then there’s the whole issue of “social proofing”. People love numbers. Right now there’s probably a box following you down the left hand side of this post, almost imploring you to share the article.
These numbers are critical to virality as you will share the article with your own sphere of influence if you oblige. Almost as importantly, they tell those visiting this post for the first time that lots of people have read and shared this post, the implication being that they should to. Social proofing is a very powerful force.

Watch, wait and listen

At the start of campaigns it is essential to listen to your audiences, so see what they are talking about and in what context, in order to create relevant content for them going forward. But the question why will they enjoy and share your content, and respond to calls to actions, needs to be addressed at the planning stage too.
Too many organisations fail to step away from the brand and look objectively from the outside in, as if through the eyes of the punters they wish to reach. By and large, the man and woman in the street is not anywhere near as interested in brands and their messaging as marketers would like to believe.
Neutral, quality, unique, engaging content is the bridge between the two worlds.
Social proofing is one easy best practice to follow, but if that content lacks the context and relevance for the target audience in the first place, if it fails to educate, entertain and/or answer questions, then the content – and the campaign – is doomed to fail.

Build for the long-term

Building a community is a long-term game, but psychology also plays a big role here in nurturing the community. 
Like a plant, it needs regular watering to grow: give it knowledge, entertainment and genuine engagement. Any relationship needs a value exchange, so give the community value.
In social media, a little understanding of psychology can go a long way to creating engagement and virality. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is being reassessed 70 years on as social media ticks the esteem and self-actualisation boxes for brands and individuals alike.

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