The science of persuasion comes from social psychology. It is used throughout many industries to have the power to capture the attention of a consumer, influence the undecided consumers, and motivate their purchases. Many different brands and small businesses as well, use approaches that have shown to be effective, whether it is making a sale and gaining profit or persuading someone for a charitable donation. Brands do it to gain more website traffic, or even more downloads on a specific document. Companies use these tactics now as a competitive advantage against their competitors. It’s meant to take advantage of behavior patterns that come from the human psyche to influence their behavior. Six principles of persuasion are used and have developed over time.
First is reciprocity, which is when a company offers a consumer a free sample of their product. The consumer might feel obligated to buy the full product, like if they are returning a favor. Social norms make humans respond to favor with another favor for them to show their gratitude. For social media marketing, it is all in the content. If companies provide their readers with information and “free training” that can be extremely practical to make their life easier, they will buy the service/product. One way is making the consumer visit the brand’s site and having them share their website across the consumer social media channels to be able to gain this “free training.”
Second is commitment and consistency, which is when the desire to look and appear like a human with consistent behavior and attitudes over time. Most brands use this principle to get higher conversion rates. This is when brands can make visitors on their site commit to anything even if it’s small, like creating an account. Still, it will increase the likelihood that the visitors will describe themselves as loyal consumers as time passes, and it makes it an easier process for them to purchase products as well. Third is social proof, how people tend to follow trends. For example, if a restaurant puts on its website, “4 out of 5 people recommend this” is a form of social proof. Also, adding ratings or reviews for products, done by consumers themselves is impactful towards another person’s decision-making process.
The fourth principle is likeability, and people might be influenced by people who they like. For example, in social media marketing, an “about us” section on the landing page is an excellent opportunity to tell the potential consumers some qualities they might have in common with the brand itself. This allows the consumers to feel a connection with anything they like about the company and feels like it represents them. The fifth principle is authority, which is when a person is deciding on whether or not to purchase a product, they look for a person of authority for an answer. That explains why the opinion of professionals is a classic in the marketing world. For example, Nike uses Lebron James as a celebrity spokesperson for their advertising for new pairs of shoes. The use of sports figures has always been a way of marketing that has worked for Nike. Consumers then see Lebron promoting the shoes, and they want to buy them since they trust his opinion.
The final principle is scarcity, which is when a consumer has to act quickly; if not, they are going to miss their opportunity of buying the product. If consumers feel a low supply or high demand for an item, they are instantly interested and will even pay a higher price. For example, right now, a huge issue is the coronavirus, so there is a high demand for antibacterial products. As soon as consumers see them, they instantly buy them even if the price is twice as much as it was before.
In my four-year experience in the fitness industry, we use all of the six principles to attract consumers into our studio. We are continually thinking of ways to bring in loyal consumers through social media marketing. For example, we will create different challenges on Instagram, and then pick from a raffle, whoever wins will get a free week to try us out. If they are already clients, they will receive a free month, or item of their choice. All of these tactics allow brands to stand out from their competitors and surpass their potential competition and have an increase in revenue and profit overall.