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4 Ways to Use Psychology in Your Social Media Marketing

Date published: February 19, 2018
Last updated: February 19, 2018

Just like society at large, social networks are a space where individuals tend to act in particular, more or less clearly defined ways. The predictable nature of their behavior makes people susceptible to influence of others, and sometimes the desired action we are goaded to take is paying attention to specific brands. This insight lies in the core of every marketing strategy ever developed, including those which are used online on social networks. All marketing uses psychology in one way or another. Therefore, social media marketing relies on understanding the psychology of social media users in order to promote services, products and the brands that lie behind them.

Just like there are different theories of marketing, there are multiple approaches in psychology, each of which has a slightly different view on what drives people to behave in the ways they do. While all marketing has a psychological basis, this does not mean that each particular marketing campaign employs the same exact psychological principles. In order to give you an idea on what kind of effects particular psychological propositions can have on social media marketing, we have created the following non-exhaustive list.

Social Proof Is All You Need

Social proof is a cognitive bias that states that you are more likely to do something if you see that others are doing it. It is based on the assumption that people around have a better understanding of the circumstances you have found yourself in, so it makes sense to follow their lead. An example of social proof in marketing is when companies display testimonials from their customers, or reviews from celebrities in order to establish credibility. Quoting media outlets has also been proven to be an effective strategy for increasing engagement among social media users. If you have another content delivery platform such as a website or a blog, adding a social media share counter next to your content is quick and dirty way to leverage social proof for your business. Additionally, social media share buttons are a way of turning new customers into vehicles for future social proofing.

Emotions Are Contagious, Spread Them Around

The phenomenon of content going viral is a great example of the way emotions tend to spread. If something causes intense feelings to arise in us, chances are we are going to share our experience. And social media are the perfect place to keep people up to date about how feel, especially if we are happy, in pain, or excited. Social media content that elicits stronger emotions such as these tends to get shared more often and networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Among the common emotional responses, which include happiness, sadness, anger and fear, statistics show that happiness has more potential to go viral than negative emotions. So make sure to have a handy supply of content that tugs at the heart-strings.

Make Them Fear Missing Out

The fear that we are missing out on what is going on social media is a phenomenon that is proven to exist. In fact, almost everyone has a friend who takes his social media consumption a bit too far for fear of being left outside the loop. The basis for this kind of behavior is the fact that we tend to experience feelings of anxiety and unease when we think about how other people are doing interesting things without us. So we try to constantly be up-to-date with what is going on, ensuring we wont miss out on a funny new meme or a video that went viral. This tendency to constantly check our social media feeds is what makes fear of missing out (FOMO) a powerful marketing tool, when used appropriately. Instead of only promoting the benefits of purchasing your product or service, try to show your customers what would happen if they decide to not respond to your sales pitch.

Let Influencers Influence

Having your sales pitch come from the mouth of an authority has always been a staple of web marketing campaigns. How to you build authority for your brand? Start by associating with individuals that your target demographic already seems to trust. Proceed further by developing relationships with influencers who can leverage their followers to create credibility for your product or service. These people promote themselves by engaging with niche audiences via social media outlets. This psychological benefit of authority is the fact that people respond better to actions of people who they admire. In order to effectively build relationships with influencers, start by sharing their content on various social media channels. Then follow this up by letting them know about what you are trying to do, and offer them a deal to start promoting your brand for benefits such as freebies, additional followers, media coverage, or inclusion on your payroll.


Using psychology in your social media marketing campaign is not as difficult as it sounds at the outset. It is a simple matter of applying scientific principles such as ones we have outlined above. There are also many more to consider, for businesses that want do dive a bit deeper. Psychology is a powerful method for understanding how your audience behaves, so use it to its full extent when developing your marketing strategy.

Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success. When she’s not working, she’s probably somewhere cuddled up with a good book, and a cup of lemongrass tea (or more honestly binge-watching the newest Netflix hit show).

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