Someone sitting at a table with a coffee mug and a notebook, holding their phone. This demonstrates the importance of knowing the psychology of social media

It’s surprisingly easy to overlook the fact that social media is a two-way street. Any brand that posts without considering who might read what they have to say, and doesn’t cater to new and existing audiences, are effectively wasting their time. Ideally, any social media strategy will focus on growth, brand awareness, engagement, or a combination of the three. This is where knowing the psychology of social media can be helpful.

User psychology can serve as the centerpiece of any strategy, taking your posts beyond words, pictures, and videos and guiding the approach toward high-performing social content.

A psychology qualification is by no means a prerequisite of becoming a successful social media marketing manager, but it pays to embrace a broad understanding of what’s possible.

Anyone who adopts a general approach to their strategy, or uses a scattergun approach to keeping their accounts up to date, misses out on a crucial component of social marketing, and we can help. Meanwhile, consider the following unseen factors when working on your next social campaign.

1. People Want to Share Content Based on Their Personality

Viral reach is a vital metric in social media performance. Still, it’s not like every post needs to emulate the popularity of “Charlie Bit My Finger” to qualify as a success. Remember, when one user shares a post on a platform, all their followers have the opportunity to see it.

There’s no need to focus on shareability in every post. Still, a high-performing strategy should include occasional content that resonates with the audience and makes them want to tell others.

On LinkedIn, that could mean content that reinforces their personality and approach. On Facebook, it could be something specific that will help people they know, such as a product that solves a problem.

Much of social media success comes down to understanding the target audience and creating compelling, potentially viral content as a way to expand organic reach.

2. A Friendly Endorsement Beats a Promoted Post

Most social media strategies involve some kind of paid marketing. It makes sense, as there aren’t many problems money can’t solve when promoting products and services, but it’s essential not to overvalue paid content. The FTC provides guidelines on disclosures around paid promotion in the US, and there are similar rules in place globally. Essentially, people generally know when they see sponsored content and will view it accordingly.

Wherever possible, an endorsement from someone your audience trusts or respects can be inherently cheaper and far more effective. That could be a share as outlined above, a blog post about a product or service, or an honest testimonial. Provide a great product or service, and people are more inclined to comment with positive feedback on future posts.

3. Consistency Underpins Every Social Media Strategy

A poor social media strategy sees each post treated independently. As a result, success is measured by engagement, clicks, and conversions based on that particular post alone. A real strategy considers each post as a jigsaw piece, coming together to create something more significant.

Colors, logos, and taglines all contribute to brand familiarity, and social media psychology dictates that people are always more comfortable around things they know. Someone may not click on a specific post, but when they see another in the future, they may remember that they’ve already seen the brand before. That can instantly increase their trust in the brand, so marketers should remember to stay somewhat consistent in their message as their strategy unfolds.

4. FOMO is Real

The internet is packed with limited-time offers. In addition, popular products that have been around for years often have a discount schedule, and these techniques can form part of a content marketing plan.

No matter your audience, with an estimated 69% of millennials alone experiencing the phenomenon, it’s difficult to ignore.

As a responsible marketer, it’s vital to be transparent rather than predatory and prioritize honesty with the audience. Limited time offers are great and always worth shouting about, but they should be genuine and worthwhile. A good deal is a good deal and, when used correctly, using FOMO can build trust and affection among clients and customers.

5. Curiosity Triumphs Over Clickbait

Clickbait is a marketing technique primarily consigned to the digital marketing dumpster — outside of a Netflix miniseries and struggling news publications. By definition, it’s an attempt to exaggerate or mislead through a headline, and most savvy internet users can see right through it.

A far better use of any marketer’s time on social media involves using curiosity. Of course, there’s no harm in feeding a viewer part of a story and then expecting them to click through for further information, as clicks can quickly become conversions. The crucial difference is that talented marketers do this to satiate the curiosity rather than leave those who want to find out more disappointed or misled. Countdowns and teasers are just some of the ways to build hype and interest on social media, as long as the payoff is worth the wait.

6. There’s Merit to Challenging Controversial Topics

People enjoy validation for their beliefs and opinions. Therefore, when crafting a social media strategy, it is worth considering the tradeoff between alienating some people to build a stronger relationship with others.

Naturally, some topics should be left well alone no matter the business, as nobody wants to post something so extreme on social media that they’re effectively canceled. However, when approached with humor and authority, taking a side on a controversial topic can revolutionize social media performance.

Nike, Burger King, Gillette, and many others have taken a stand on potentially controversial issues and successfully met their marketing goals in the process.

Even those that don’t agree can help. If they passionately disagree with something, they’re just as likely to engage with a post as someone that shares the same belief. Social network algorithms don’t consider tone or intent when counting those engagements, only numbers. If they notice that people have a lot to say about a piece of content, they’re more likely to display it to others.

7. Social Media Can Make Small Brands Appear Massive

Smaller companies might not have Microsoft’s $20 billion annual marketing budget, but social marketing levels the playing field to an extent. Brands that work smarter can always find an advantage, even in sectors dominated by some of the world’s largest companies.

One fantastic marketing technique involves appearing everywhere or as close to everywhere as possible. Used in conjunction with the consistency outlined previously, it is relatively easy to appear significantly more prominent as a brand than might be the case. It’s all about defining an audience and ensuring that wherever they go online, where possible, your brand is already there.

Understand their interests, and you can ensure that a brand becomes closely associated with what they view online.

It doesn’t have to involve massive amounts of content, either. Thanks to content repurposing techniques, a single video can be edited and manipulated to provide great content across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. So even if they don’t interact directly the first time, they’ll come to associate your brand with something that interests them.

8. Do Something for People, and They’ll Probably Do Something for You

This concept is as old as the internet itself. You’ve probably heard of lead magnets – ‘enter your email address to receive my completely free guide’ and that kind of tactic. It works as well today as it ever has, and that extends just as much to social media as any other online destination.

Indeed, one of the first steps many new social accounts take to build an engaged online community involves a competition, giveaway, or otherwise giving prospective followers an incentive.

As a rule of thumb, try to add value to every post. It doesn’t have to come at a cost, although people do love prizes, discounts, and free stuff in general. However, solving a problem or giving great advice can be just as effective, and doing this successfully can boost that all-important viral reach.

9. Authority – If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It

We already covered how many people are more inclined to trust public figures they know and respect, but that’s not the only way to capitalize on authority. If you have authority, make it known. Don’t become insufferable and incorporate an element of ‘you should trust me and here’s why’ in every post, but try to resonate with people when your opinions are backed by fact.

This could involve experience, certifications, professional roles, or anything else that will convince an audience that they don’t need to fact-check everything you say, as you’re a reliable primary source already. Simply posting useful, actionable, and genuine content on social media can build authority in its own right and serves as an excellent starting point.

10. There’s a Positive Side to Herd Mentality

Somehow, “sheep” has become a derogatory term to describe people, but that takes nothing away from the importance of herd mentality. Psychologically, people look to others to guide and inform them, and there’s nothing underhanded about incorporating this into a social marketing strategy.

If something is popular or successful, make it known. Many of the most successful names are fond of including accurate data on how many people have viewed and bought certain items in the past 24 hours, from online stores to hotel booking platforms. When a product does well, the people behind it never shy away from talking about how many were sold. Until 1993, even McDonald’s made a big deal out of the number of people served.

When the going’s good, shout about it. If someone leaves a great review, bring it to people’s attention on social media. Combine herd mentality with FOMO, friendly endorsements, and consistency, and you’ve got the perfect combination for growth.

The Psychology of Social Media Strategy

Understanding the psychological principles behind effective social media is one thing. Deploying them consistently is another. Unfortunately, scattergun social media simply does not perform as effectively as a plan with defined goals and preferred outcomes. That’s where Vervology can help.

We provide complete digital strategy solutions, encompassing not only your social media performance but every online component of the business. From your website and landing pages to how you present text and images to new and existing customers through marketing, we design holistic strategies spanning short and long-term activities to raise brand awareness and boost your bottom line.

Get in touch to discover how we use nuance and advanced techniques to make brands stand out on any platform and reach the ideal target audience.