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How to use social psychology to boost your business

4 min read

Social Media

Henry James once said that the most beautiful words in the English language are “summer afternoon.”

Other words long-loved by writers and creatives for their interesting, evocative or emotive loveliness: gossamer, wisteria, oleander.  With the powerful imagery elicited by these solitary words, it’s easy to see why content marketers devote a huge amount of energy and resources into presenting customers with content in the right form.

The missing piece in the inbound marketing puzzle, then, could be behavioral psychology — revealing the real motivation behind human behavior and how this knowledge can attract and retain customers.

The more you understand people, the easier it becomes to give them what they want. Here are eight concepts related to the field of social psychology that can help boost your content efforts.


Harking back to our basest human emotion, the concept of reciprocity is founded on the principle that if someone does something nice for you, your natural instinct is to reciprocate in kind. People love helping people! This simply means offering customers a real and genuine incentive in return for their business.  This small exchange forges a relationship of mutual trust and is more likely to convert casual visitors into loyal customers.


People rely on information that comes from a trusted source. Establish your brand as a dependable point of reference for useful information that solves a problem and they will come back time and again.

Most brands nowadays include impressive ‘About The Author’ sections under blog posts, eBooks, videos and other reference guides – a strategy that attaches weight and authority to the information conveyed by reference to the expert delivering it.

Social evidence

People are naturally predisposed to accepting information that has been screened and enjoyed by a group of people they trust. Most brands now capitalize on this powerful social flow-on effect by including sharing and follow buttons on their sites. Visitors who discover content that has already been widely shared are more likely to share that information themselves.


People who feel positive emotions toward an individual or business are more likely to enter a business arrangement with them. If they like you they will want to be around you. If you can generate a sense of “cool” or a feeling of “missing out” people will want to spend more time with your brand, thereby converting leads into conversions.


“Your degree of visibility and your degree of likeability directly will correlate with your degree of profitability,”  says Rachna Jain, specialist in the psychology of social media.

Being seen frequently online (and across multiple social media platforms) corresponds with a higher degree of likeability for your brand. In this sense, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt: it breeds affability. The more you can captivate customers, provide useful information and remain at the forefront of their minds, the more likely it is that they will choose your product or service.

Supply & demand

People value and actively respond to rare opportunities or events. Cultivate a sense of urgency to reap the full benefits of this psychological principle. To do this, it is critical to phrase offers with a positive slant.  For example, avoid telling customers that few products have been produced, leading to a shortage of product availability.

Instead generate an intense feeling of desirability by drawing attention to the scarcity of your product following an increased period of popular demand.

Importance of priming

Prime your audience with images, words, phrases or videos that arouse feelings of security, empowerment and confidence in your service. Make sure that the image you present online consistently presents your brand in a positive light. The emotions generated by your brand image significantly impact the way customers think and feel about you and can lead to a large increase (or decrease) in sales depending on the way this information is conveyed.

People are motivated by a few common desires: the need to feel happy, the need to feel part of a bigger community and the need to do good. Tapping into these subconscious impulses in an authentic and genuine way is the best mechanism to give customers what they want and to boost your business.

Everybody wins!

Sarah Lynch is content manager and all round creative spark at TWiZ, a digital marketing agency based in Sydney, Australia. To hear more social media and marketing musings from Sarah you can catch her for weekly installments on the TWiZ blog or follow her on Twitter.