Learn the most important factors in managing social influence through effective marketing strategies to help build and promote brand image…
Engaged marketing masters are fully aware of the use of social influence as a technique for soothing the concerns of customers.
Since 2013, social influence has become a crucial tool in marketing as consumers are able to access enormous amounts of information about any business prior to speaking with a representative of the company.
Research has held that more than 70% of American consumers view product reviews prior to purchasing a product. Additionally, 63% are more inclined to buy a product from an online source if the site offers reviews and ratings of their products.
Critical Steps in Managing Social Influence through Marketing Strategies
It goes without saying that social influence is a primary driving force of the current economy. However, there are variations in social influence that need to be understood to be successful in utilizing it for marketing purposes.
Don’t Spin the Negative
First, spinning social influence as a negative often backfires. Including urgent calls for action is often effective; but, the use of negative social influence can lead to an effect opposing the original goal.
According to Cathy Stucky, a professional in marketing and information sales, “You want to create a sense of urgency, so you say something like, “A lot of people have missed out on this, and you do NOT want to be one of them.” Or “Only a handful of people who read this letter will be smart enough to grab this offer before it’s too late.”
The problem is you’re indicating that a lot of people are not buying the product. And since people tend to look to others for indications of what to do, this kind of social influence will actually encourage prospects to follow the lead of the majority and not make the purchase. If other people aren’t buying, they must have a reason. Maybe I shouldn’t buy either (Stucky, 2017).
Keep it Positive!
Second, it is more likely to achieve your desired success through positive social influence. It has been studied in various markets whether or not positive peer pressure as social influence makes a difference in a marketing campaign.
Per Shang, Basil, and Wymer (2010), a study of hotel programs designed to reduce waste and use of water, determined that “Results demonstrate that response is most positive when savings from the program are donated to charity.” Consumers are more likely to respond to a perceived, positive result from their actions. In the same study, when the consumers were told the money saved would result in lower hotel room rates, the response was not as high.
It is clear that positive social influence will create a much more likely increase in returns for a marketing strategy than a negative social influence will. Placing positive social influence materials in marketing brochures, on website landing pages, and in other e-commerce communications will result in more sales.
Say it with Pictures
Third, as with many things, social influence works best when consumers have pictures to review. A picture will provide evidence to augment the words of any marketing campaign. People are much more likely to trust a testimonial from a consumer if there is a high quality picture to back it up.
Fourth, consumers are most influenced by people they share commonalities with. As human beings, we all want to deal with people who can relate to us. It is not usually effective to market feminine hygiene products using a male actor or model, for example. It has even been noted by researchers that consumers are most likely to respond to people who resemble them.
It is also important to avoid testimonials and reviews that are too general. A vague review such as “This was a great read!” is far less likely to reach a consumer than say, a review on a book about disciplining children that states “My ten and twelve year olds are now respecting me and my husband! The tools in this book work!”
Tell me a Story
Fifth, storytelling is a great way to connect to your buyers. All human beings love to listen to a good story. If you are truly interested in using social influence to drive your sales, using customer anecdotes is an effective technique.
Consumers may be initially swayed by a 5-star review, but many if not most would be more persuaded by the comments left by the reviewer. It is human nature to trust a story more than a statistic. Stories give us a visual to connect with that helps us make decisions.
Human brains are designed to take in information in images and feelings. Oral tradition was the primary method of transmitting information before the implementation of the written word. People take in information more readily when it appears in the form of storytelling.
Follow the Leader
Sixth, the presence of authority or celebrity creates a positive social influence. Human beings are attracted to and seek to be near those who hold positions of influence or power. This is a natural instinct for self-preservation.
Playing into that need can create a successful marketing campaign when a company hires an influential person to promote their products. Celebrities and power brokers wield an influence over their admirers. Consumers often purchase products simply because their favorite celebrity endorsed the product or the company. These people of influence generally have a reputation among their followers and companies use that in positive marketing campaigns to boost sales.
Start from Scratch
Finally, getting started without social influence is better than presenting a small or insignificant amount of social influence. When a site or page has very few reviews or comments from consumers, new visitors may deem the page untrustworthy.
The popularity of a page increases its value to consumers. A person is far more likely to pay attention to, consider products from, or even purchase products from a page that has positive reviews. A brand new page, with no reviews or comments, is actually more likely to be read by consumers because it is untested.
However, a page with just a few reviews or very little in the way of comments, will not engage consumers or increase traffic to the site. If this is the case, clean up your site, make sure it is visually engaging, and start marketing fresh.