Marketing Psychology 101: How to Use it to Improve Your Social Media Strategy

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Marketing Psychology

How do you use marketing psychology in your social media strategy? Are you using techniques like community building, lead magnets, exclusivity, and scarcity to create a buzz around your message?

It does take practice and some experience to know the timing of when to apply which marketing psychological technique. This guide provides you an overview of many social media marketing psychology strategies you can start applying now.

What is marketing psychology?

Marketing psychology is the study of what makes a consumer buy a product.

Think about the motivating factors that entice a person buy to make a purchase. Is there a need? Or, is it something that makes that person feel good? Does it inspire them to take action?

Understanding the definition of what marketing psychology is less important than knowing the factors that influence consumer behavior in your particular industry. Whatever it is that makes a consumer buy, a marketer needs to understand those motivations before they begin to market their product in any way.

A good way to start is to understand consumer behavior. If you’re not inventing a totally new product, there should be plenty of ways to figure out the consumer behaviors of your specific industry.

The consumer behavior definition is different for every niche. When studying retail psychology online, look to the social networks, consumer review sites, Amazon, eBay, Google, and Yelp. These days understanding what makes your market tick is simple, and not something you need to spend a ton of money on. Use those sites to understand your consumer base and then create a type of posts, ads, blogs, and web content that are suggestive in nature.

Psych 101: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Marketing Psychology maslow

If you’re familiar with marketing with psychological principles, you should know of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow said, that people have a specific set of needs and those basic (physiological and safety) needs to must be met in order for people to pursue higher degrees of needs.

As a marketer, you can use this to theory to help decide how to market your product on social media.

What kind of product are you selling? Does it fall into the physiological category or the safety category? You might not want to post live streams if you’re selling a security system. A website and some PPC ads, local SEO, and great reviews might be enough to get your business moving. Having a Facebook page is probably enough, but if you’re selling a book on becoming your best self or finding your soul’s purpose, you most likely fall in to the self-actualization field.

If you’re at the very top level of Maslow’s pyramid, you should understand that your target market demographics are probably somewhat affluent, meaning most or all of their basic needs are met. They probably already have a great deal of self-esteem and might be older and successful. This is a totally different kind of marketing than someone selling household products on their e-commerce store.

Marketing psychology topics and the hidden persuaders

When you look at companies with excellent marketing campaigns on and off of social media, what kinds of techniques are they highlighting? Below are some of the most common techniques being used in the psychological marketing world. Try to take each one of these and apply it to your business.

Verbatim Effect

Most people don’t remember the details of what you say when you say it. They remember the “gist” of it. That is the essence of the verbatim technique and memory biases. So, what do you do with this information?

Use the Von Restorff effect, which says to that people remember what sticks out. This is why you see so many wacky social media marketers out there, using foul language, dressed uniquely, and saying things in a very direct way. Professionalism is starting to look too dull for social media, and if you’re marketing to millennials, you might want to check out what specifically works for them.

Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Have you noticed when you see something that intrigues you, it starts to appear everywhere. This is because of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. I don’t know about you, but this happens all the time for me with cars. When I start to car shop, I start to see that car everywhere. Maybe it’s magic or maybe it’s the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Psychology of colors

You might think that the colors of an ad, website, or brand are less meaningful than they really are. Now, it gets a little hokey if you’re not looking at the science of colors, but there is very credible evidence beyond common sense that selecting the right color palette for your business can improve sales.

Think about the last time you bought something for your significant other online. In my case, the last time I bought something for my girlfriend was online from She was longing for a Coach bag, and I finally had the money to buy her the one she wanted, but while I was there I noticed the color palette they chose and the way it made me feel.

Marketing Psychology coach

It’s that classic feel that makes me feel good about buying from them. Their website has an appearance of being “clean” and “professional.” This instills confidence in a buyer like me and keeps me from leaving their website and searching for something “better.”

Their color palette, in my opinion, is classic and that is something that I believe is very appealing for their target audience. Colors in that particular picture and on their products are for all ages and Coach has done a phenomenal job securing a spot as one of the top brands for bags and other accessories. Check out how Coach handles their Instagram account with a mixture of fun images and videos.

Marketing Psychology coach instagram

Create social proof

Never deny the marketing psychological principle of social proof. There is no doubt that it’s one of the most powerful consumer motivators to buy. That’s why every website you see these days, shows who they’ve worked with, has a plethora of quotes and sometimes videos testimonials littered on their website to “prove” they do great work.

If you’re not on the bandwagon of showing off your successes with social proof then you’re probably not doing as well as you could. If you’re a brand, looking to get noticed on Google, you need customer reviews to boost your ranking on Google. It’s part of the new local SEO algorithm, so make it easy for customers to leave a review by giving them the opportunity to leave a review while they are in the office or send them a link right after they complete their purchase.

Create scarcity or loss aversion for higher sales

People immediately think something is more valuable if there are less of them. If they feel like they are missing out from something great and you support your case of why they shouldn’t look around for a better deal, odds are your customers will make their purchase now rather than later.

Scarcity is a very powerful form of manipulation for marketers, but also dangerous. If you’re doing this trick too much, you’re basically telling your customers to just wait for the times you say something is “scarce.”

Bandwagon effect from influencer marketing

Influencers are great at creating a bandwagon effect within their communities. If you’re looking for one, make sure they get a high amount of engagement. That means their likes and follower count is high, but most importantly, their comments are just as high.

An influencer than doesn’t communicate with his/her following is not going to get you the sales you’re looking for, because no one cares about their content.

Foot-in-the-door (FITD) technique

Are you familiar with a lead magnet or an online freebie? You should be if your selling books, classes, software, and more. Lead magnets like eBooks, white papers, case studies, and “lite” versions of apps are great ways to get traffic, collect emails, and entice consumers to buy.

What you want is your freebie to be extremely valuable to a company that they can’t function without the information or technology. If you do that, then anything you try and sell them will be much more enticing considering the goodwill you created already.

Door-in-the-face (DITF) technique

Conversely, the door-in-the-face technique is the exact opposite of the foot-in-the-door technique. This means that instead of giving something away for free, you sell the most expensive products to your customer in the hopes that they either buy it or go with one of the lesser products that product almost the same value, but for a cheaper price.

It depends on your market, which strategy you choose, but if I had to pick one, I would go with the FITD over DITF. I just feel it leaves keeps a consumer invested in your brand for longer, because if your free app or information helps them they will remember who helped them and feel more loyal to your brand over others.

Books for Psychological Marketing and Sales

An article like this requires that you understand these principles before you use them. For more information on applying marketing psychological principles to your social media strategy, read these books below. They have certainly helped me in my marketing career and I think they will help you too.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The Ultimate Sales Letter, Dan Kennedy

Influence, by Robert Cialdini

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Anthony Catullo