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August 17, 2015

Persuasion In Social Media to Engage Users

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Robert Cialdini wrote a book on marketing in 1984 in which he explained the six key principles of persuasion. Despite having been written three decades ago, the persuasion concept found in the book still holds true today. The concept can be applied to social media in marketing products or services. Persuasion also is great for keeping users and followers engaged. Let’s closely examine these six principles of persuasion so that you can add them to your social media tactics.

Reciprocity is based on the idea of giving back. Basically, if someone does you a favor, you should do them one in return. What applies in your social life also applies on social media. You could greatly benefit from dedicating a few minutes of your time responding to your followers instead of just broadcasting your business-related messages. Doing this on a regular basis would help you gain their attention and compel them to return the favor.


A perfect example of reciprocity is how Dropbox offers two gigabytes of free storage space and offers an extra 250 megabytes in exchange for users sharing its service with their friends. It’s also popular for writers to give free eBooks before encouraging users to subscribe to their blog or follow their Facebook page.

Commitment and Consistency
Once you’ve made a choice, it’s important that you stick to it and be consistent with that commitment. Not only should you live by this rule, but you should also make the most of it in your social media strategy. Try providing your potential customers with something of value and remain consistent on social media. People who’ve accepted that offer will be more inclined to buy something or sign up for a service later because they’ve already bought into the concept from the start.


You can use the principle of commitment by offering free trials, online courses, eBooks or even downloads. To ensure that you get consistency out of your customers, you should set their expectations high from the start. For instance, if you’re creating blog posts about useful tips, make sure you update the blog regularly so readers know what to expect and when to expect it. Keep the posts published on social media to maximize the visibility among your followers.

Social Proof

The idea of “safety in numbers” plays a pivotal role in influencing the principle of social proof. When making decisions, we tend to look at others for help and often replicate what they’re doing. We hope that following others will allow us to make the best choice. Whether we realize it or not, we typically look at what others think about a certain product or service before we try it out for ourselves. You’d naturally feel more inclined to watch a movie if you see a Facebook friend is watching it.

This video proves how social proof works in real life. It’s imperative for you to grow your social following and expand your reach across various social media platforms. Focus on connecting with people in your industry and people who are likely to be interested in what you offer. Instead of shooting for a high follower base, focus on building a decent amount of followers who are relevant to your targeted audience. By following the first principle, you should be able to gain visibility with the right audience and gain a support network eventually.


There’s no denying that the people we like and respect tend to have a bigger influence on us. In his book, Cialdini wrote that we tend to say “yes” to those we know and like. According to this persuasion principle, there are several reasons why we like certain people more than others:
• Like it or not, we tend to be more in favor of people who are physically attractive. That’s simply human nature.
• We are more inclined to like those who share similar ideals, values, and interests as us.
• We open up more easily toward those who compliment us.


From those three basic extensions of this principle, we can adapt our social media strategy for persuasion and make ourselves more appealing to our target audience. For instance, we could use aesthetically-pleasing images, fonts, and designs on our website to compel visitors to stay for longer. Brands often hire celebrities for advertisements to recommend their product. People will be compelled to purchase an item supported by their favorite actor or musician.

In social media, you can also publicize your products or services through celebrity endorsements like this:


According to Cialdini, we innately feel obligated to follow the lead of an authority figure. Just think about the number of people who would buy a product just because a famous person endorses it? Authority can be conferred in many ways. In the world of social media, your popularity and expertise can be perceived as signs of authority. If you’re not an expert on the subject you’re preaching, consider collaborating with one to act as a spokesperson.


To obtain authority on social media, you’ll need to maintain and nourish the relationships you have with the industry’s biggest influencers. For example, running a co-branding campaign with an industry leader would get your message across and market your brand. When an influencer or field expert recommends you on social media, then awareness of your brand will skyrocket. This is why the founder of KISSmetrics, Neil Patel, recommended Uberflip.

The principle of scarcity is used to describe how we tend to be more interested in things that are limited in availability. Telling your potential customers that you have a limited supply of a certain product, offer, or service will create scarcity. This is perhaps one of the most used social media tools for persuasion apart from reciprocity. You can make this principle work for you by stressing the limitation of available products or seats as well as a quickly looming deadline. A rush of potential buyers or subscribers will be forced to make a decision then and there.


Scarcity is best used for contests, giveaways, promotions, and discounts. If people know the deal won’t be around forever and they could be missing out on a chance to save money, they’re more likely to jump. However, be certain you’re not abusing this persuasion principle and promoting false discounts or offers. Getting caught doing this would obliterate the trust you’ve worked hard to earn over many years. Value your reputation over everything and don’t forget the effort it takes to build online credibility.

Many businesses are successfully implementing persuasion to attract customers through social media. You too can make the most of persuasion across your social media platforms to boost engagement and improve your conversion rates. Here’s some lasting pointers for maximizing your persuasion strategy in drawing in hordes of social media followers and paying customers.

• When you’re using the principle of scarcity, make sure you’re honest and are only using it to a positive effect. Avoid changing the deadline or moving costs around because this is the easiest way to lose credibility.
• Be committed and consistent with building engagement on your chosen social media platforms. Unless you have the time or resources, stay away from new platforms that could distract your attention.
• Act sincere when you flatter or compliment your followers, subscribers, commenters, and reviewers. Use words and phrases that will help you nourish your relationship with them. Make it a point to actively engage with people you admire by commenting on their posts, “retweeting” their tweets, or linking to their epic content.
• Focus on quality over quantity by creating value. Use the principle of reciprocity by providing your followers with valuable insights and reliable content.
• Put in the extra effort to create aesthetically-pleasing designs. Your social media landing pages, blogs, and website should look professional and interactive. This persuasion tactic will gain the trust and interest of your audience.


Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.