There can be numerous facets to creating a content strategy that works. However, using psychological theories to find out our customers’ thinking process and what kind of content might work best can help us take a short cut through the colossal volume of digital noise we are bombarded with. Did you ever think about how much social content is sent across every day? I’m sure not. But being a marketer, you must know that on an average 500 million tweets are posted and 300 hours or 4.75 billion pieces of video content is uploaded every day! If you’re a content marketer too, these bewildering numbers must have made you wonder how this digital noise can be cut through to reach the target customers. The solution to this problem is to directly intercept into the customers brains. Here are some psychological theories to tap into our customer’s psyche that are generally taught as a part of all marketing courses in college and how can they be applied in practical social content marketing:
1) Social Proof
Starting with the basics, the social proof theory talks about a psychological phenomenon that makes someone adopt the beliefs of a group of people or mimic the actions of others. Many call it the ‘me too effect’ and it all comes down to the bottom line that humans love to follow the behavior of others they like or admire. For instance, see how some horrific fashion trends erupt to be the most followed?
There can be multiple ways to use social proof to improve our business’ content marketing. Adding social plugins and sharing buttons to our blog and posts can be a way to employ this theory. Moreover, user-generated content like testimonials, reviews and mentions offer a boulevard for leveraging social proof. This will play as a showcase for the number of shares a piece has generated, which subsequently will influence readers to like and share our post if they can see that some people have already liked and shared the post. This is also because they highlight the positive experiences of our happy customers and signals others of our product’s trustworthiness. Therefore, if you can boast any forms of social proof, you should do every possible thing to promote them.
2) Frequency illusion
You know how a product or image can take over our mind when we see it all the time as it seems to appear everywhere we look? This is exactly what frequency illusion is. Also known as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, Frequency illusion is something that people just learnt or noticed for the first time a few days back, now starts to appear everywhere their eyes go.
When developing a content marketing strategy, we should aim to create integrated campaigns with multiple pieces of content throughout different platforms that creates the feeling of frequency illusion for the customers who come across the content everywhere. Although it talks about quantity, benefiting from frequency illusion is all about creating engaging but relevant content that blends in traditional, digital and social media marketing into one greater whole.
3) Paradox of choice
Is the right one right, or the one on left? The paradox of choice theory recommends limiting the range of choice we provide to the customers. In content marketing, providing a freedom of choice to people is considered as positive because it offers them liberty over their decisions. However, this theory suggests that providing consumers with limited range of choices yields psychological benefits because it reduces solicitude and anxiety for shoppers.
We should never overwhelm customers by presenting them too many options, or excessive information to digest. Consider offering them marketing materials instead, which concentrate on not more than three key points at a time. This serves as an extension to the creation of ‘call-to-action’ for our content, where less is usually more. So wherever possible, provide just one or two clear paths to follow once the customer has consumed our content, in order to avoid a situation where they end up making no choice at all.
4) Mere Exposure Effect
Generally, because someone is familiar with a big- name, they subconsciously hold a preferential bias towards it. Basically, the mere exposure effect is a psychological instance whereby people display a preference for things just because they are familiar with. As humans, we are warm to associations, so, when we are faced with a choice between two products, often we pick the one we are more familiar with.
Most of the times only the bigger brands that can afford to send out advertising campaigns across an array of mediums, can benefit from the mere-exposure effect. However, with the arrival of multiple social media platforms, more and more businesses can get their message through to the people. Therefore, we should not miss any chance to spread our brand content as far and as wide as possible by exploiting social media. Upload, repost and share as much content as possible. Thus wise, when people begin deciding on their purchase processes, they will already have an image or familiarity with what our business has to offer them.
5) Decoy Marketing
The decoy effect takes advantage of price comparisons by introducing a third less attractive option to the shoppers. The decoy effect is a psychological occurrence that means consumers are more likely to change their preference between two options when a third less appealing option is introduced. In short, the decoy effect works best when taking advantage of comparison shoppers.
The simplest instance would be buying popcorn at the cinema. There is a large difference between the cost of the small and the large popcorn cartons, but the large carton is only marginally pricey than the medium carton. This scenario is a decoy wherein, the medium carton is designed to make the large carton of popcorn appear more attractive, which is also the most expensive. We can take advantage of the decoy effect by using the same principle while creating product pages for our business.
6) Information gap theory
The information gap theory of curiosity develops in psychology when the consumers feel a gap between what they know and what they want to know. The theory proposes that humans tend to exhibit a strong emotional response when faced with an information gap or feels like a mental itch that can be scratched by acquiring information about what they need to know.
Following the theory, we need to create content that creates curiosity within our audience and then provide them with data that fills up the information-gap generated. The easiest way to do this through our content is by developing attention-grabbing headlines. The 4 U’s come handy when crafting effective headlines – headlines should be unique, useful and ultra-specific and convey a sense of urgency. So, when creating a heads, test out a range of options till you reach a combination of words that encompass the four U’s. After this, of course, the content should provide the reader with a good dose of new knowledge that they desire.