Influence Makes Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Work


Face it – influence makes your social media marketing strategy work.  Influence gives your content legs.  Driving thousands of people to your website, blog or landing page does NOTHING if you don’t influence them to take action — whether that’s signing up for your email list, sharing your content, or buying your product.  Influence is the key to generating ROI from social media and why simply looking at numbers — followers, fans, etc. don’t impact ROI in social media.

Influence is the grease that makes creates ROI in social media

In training our interns, one of the first lessons is on how to use influence to motivate action.  We have them read Robert Cialdini’s book on influence.  Each intern reports on assigned chapters and leads the discussion of topics in their chapters.  Although the book was written before the days of social media, it’s just as applicable in  that context.

Some folks melt down influence to word of mouth, but influence is more that word or mouth.

According to Cialdini, 6 factors influence folks to do what you want:

We’ll only get through 3 factors today, but the next post will discuss the other 3.

1. Reciprocation

Reciprocation is a strong cultural norm across most cultures, but may be strongest in Asian countries.  If you give someone something, they’re more likely to do something for you in return.  Of course, blogging is really built on the notion of providing great content as a way to encourage folks to buy your products or choose your affiliate links.

Facebook fanpages and email lists are build using reciprocation — giving access to content, prizes, contest entry, or coupons in exchange.

Even comment systems use reciprocity — they reward commenters with points and systems like Disqus promote increased commenting across sites using Disqus as your points follow you from site to site.

2. Commitment and Consistency

People need to feel logical so they like to act in ways that are consistent with what they say.  That’s a hallmark of 12-step programs where users publically (and that’s a key element making this work), proclaim their commitment to staying sober.  It’s then harder to drink. Using this aspect of influence is much less common in social media.

  1. So, how do you use this in social media? Contact folks who leave comments on your site or in social media such as Facebook or Google+ and ask them to write testimonials.  After commenting on your great posts, it’s harder for them to refuse this even though it might be more work.
  2. I’m holding a contest soliciting suggestions for titles for my new social media marketing book.  (BTW, I’m getting great suggestions and you should go to Facebook to enter your suggestion).  Contestants have made an implicit commitment to the book by entering a suggestion.  Once the book is published, I’ll ask them to review it in their own networks.  Again, it’s harder to refuse since you already committed to the book.

3. Social Proof

We look to other people and assume if they’re doing something, it must be right. That’s why, when a line forms, people rush to join the line thinking something good must be at the end of the line.  Watch in airports.  Even though we KNOW a long line only means a long wait, people flock to the longer line and ignore shorter ones.

Social proof is a great influence tool to use in social media because it’s devoid of other social ques telling us what we’re supposed to do.  Michael Stelzner (of Social Media Examiner) started a discussion about this on Google+ today, although some readers might not have seen the connection.  He complained the Tweet counter on his website wasn’t accurate.  Now, that might seem like an ego thing, but what he was really saying is he was loosing social proof.  Every time someone Tweets about you, not only do you get a boost from the Tweet, you get a boost from social proof if you’re counting Tweets.  Visitors figure if you get more Tweets the content must be more valuable.  Social proof in action.

And there are lots of ways to generate social proof.  Review, mentions, comments, and other forms of engagement all provide social proof.  So do forwards in books.  In fact, many of the known factors Google uses to rank websites are based on social proof, so social proof also brings more organic search traffic to your content.



If you want to learn more about using influence, here are some links:

Social Media Examiner

Influence at Work – Cialdini’s official site

Slideshare on measuring social influence


Next post we’ll talk about the other 3 factors impacting influence.

Until then, share tactics you’re using to influence behavior either online or off.  Do you think these tactics are fair?  Do you see yourselve being motivated by these tools of influence?  We appreciate hearing from you.