You might not be ushering customers into your business space right now, but I bet you’re rolling out the red carpet for them on social media.
The online marketplace is packed shoulder-to-shoulder and noisier than ever. There’s so much competition for our limited attention. This shift online was gathering speed before 2020, but the pandemic accelerated the pace.
Here are some significant stats from Barclaycard’s recent report on consumer spending. In December 2020, nearly 50% of retail spending was online. That’s up 52.2%. In fact, some specialist retailers (gift shops, toy shops and jewellers) saw online growth of 61.9%. And it’s not just physical products that are jumping off the online shelves. Sales of digital products and subscriptions were also up 41.4%.
In that kind of busy space, how can you give your signal a boost and make sure the connection with your people is strong?
Boost your signal on social media
How do you recreate those personal touchpoints with your product or service, when you meet your customers online and not in person?
The solution is ironic.
As we sprint towards digital, we should make online marketing more personal. Shopify’s recent Future of Commerce report calls this trend “conversational commerce”. You need to make up for that missing physical connection we get when browsing in-store or meeting face-to-face.
Conversational commerce starts with content
Marketing psychology can help shape your content to engage and connect. You can build trust in your business and connect more deeply with your customers using some surprisingly simple (but genius) strategies. They’re easy for small businesses to create and sustain. In fact, they should save you time on social media, as your content creation will be more purposeful.
Why does marketing psychology have the answers?
Marketing psychology lifts that velvet rope to show you inside consumers’ brains. The jury is still out on whether there’s a BUY button in the brain. But the principles of persuasion are sound. Here’s why.
We make thousands of decisions every day. If we didn’t rely on mental short-cuts, we’d still be dithering at lunchtime about choosing tea or coffee with breakfast. To get stuff done, our brains rely on certain biases (called heuristics) to speed up decisions. Big brand marketing has been acting on these biases for years. Small brands, micro businesses and solopreneurs can all get in on the action.
It’s a no-brainer to use marketing psychology in content creation. It’s clearer for you and more persuasive for your potential customers.
But I don’t know anything about psychology
Even if you’re new to consumer psychology, you’re still ready for some simple steps to boost your signal.
Here’s what I’ve found from studying engaging content on social media.
Some persuasive powers are quite intuitive. For example, we often interpret other people’s body language instinctively. Some people have a knack for it. The rest of us can learn the skill.
Engagement on social media relies on good manners, which we can often improve. For example, here’s how it works in a shop. Someone steps in, you smile, say hello. At some point, once they’ve browsed, you might ask if you can help with anything. Those are the basics. Good manners when you engage on social media can help you recreate this welcoming feeling.
As a founder, you’ve probably got intuition and good manners in abundance. However, some connection strategies are more intentional, and worth discovering. I’m going to show you exactly how you can create more engaging content, just by being aware of some key biases that our brains rely on.
3 painless signal-boosters for lockdown content marketing
1. Pull up a chair beside you & pour the coffee
Yes, your doors are physically closed. But you’re open online. You’ve got to give visual cues that you’re open.
Create invitations in your visuals for your viewers to step inside. That means leaving a space for them – an empty chair, a mug of coffee, an open magazine. Anything that fires up their mirror neurons, so viewers can imagine themselves in your space.
Reveal views through an open door.
Show a friendly face on social media.
Show your hands. It’s hard to trust people when we can’t see them. When we meet, we use them to wave, high-five or shake.
Offer your products to the camera in an open hand. Studies show that we are primed to accept something that’s offered to us this way.
And while you’re thinking about these “open” cues, don’t forget what visuals confuse our brains right now. Groups of people, standing too close together, just feel confusing.
2. Be more JLo
Stay visible. The more we see you, the more we like you.
Oversimplified, but the truth is in there too.
The familiarity principle in psychology is called the mere exposure effect. We lean towards what’s familiar. So be more JLo. Every time I open a magazine, she’s there. On Instagram, she’s always visible. Over 3,000 posts and counting.
This might sound like an argument for quantity over quality. Better to think of it as consistency over perfection. Stay visible, show your face, show up repeatedly to talk about what you do.
If that feels forced, then use social media to go behind the scenes. Show the mess, the parcel packing, the busy desk.
Make the most of video (Reels, IGTV, Live, Stories) to stay visible. Use the features you feel comfortable with. If going Live feels like a stretch, pair up. Team up with someone else in a similar space and do a live chat. On Instagram you can do this on a split screen. It’s engaging because it feels less formal than one person talking to camera.
If you respond to your audience with messages, experiment with voice notes instead of texting. It’s quicker and way more personal.
3. Learn how to point out your popularity
Reassure potential customers that it’s a good decision to choose you, as other people have done so before. One of the quickest ways for any business to build trust is to show social proof. Social proof means we look at other people’s actions to help us decide how to behave.
Many new businesses wonder how they find social proof before they have lots of reviews and testimonials to share. As your business grows, it becomes easier and more natural, but you can find social proof even when you’re just starting out.
To build and share social proof –
- Ask for reviews and testimonials.
- Shout out other local businesses or those in your niche. It associates you with the popularity of a group. And it’s just a kind, supportive thing to do.
- Name your bestsellers. Create a category for them on your website. This makes customer choice easier, as we lean towards what’s popular. You could also rewrite product descriptions to suggest why they’re popular.
- On social media, use polls, emoji sliders and question stickers. This doesn’t just bump up your engagement. It also creates connection. These visual cues make it easy for your audience to join the conversation.
My free guide shows exactly how to build trust in your business and has lots more content ideas for you.
Don’t forget your bounce back strategy
Now’s the time to build up a library of engaging product or lifestyle shots.
Think about how you can personalise your offer when lockdown ends. Can you hop on board the growing trend for VIP private appointments to shop, for example?
Or revisit your website to edit the words. Break up the text for easier reading with subheads and bullet points. Add symbols like arrows to highlight your most important message – they’re great visual cues for directing our gaze.
Once you’ve learned to think about how the brain fires up, I promise you will be finished with introspection or shyness when you market your business. When you change your focus to what’s going on in your follower’s brain, social media marketing becomes a fascinating game of conversation and connection.
Where you can find me
About your author
As the founder of Virtual Gold Dust, Sue shows small businesses how to create more persuasive content using big brand marketing psychology.
You can find out more about Sue and her business here.
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I’m Samantha Jameson, the Founder of British hand, bath and body care brand, Soapsmith.
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