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How the Human Need for Approval Drives Social Marketing Strategies

Via AdWeek : [Opinion] Somewhere along the way, the need for human approval has become so strong that we actually have begun to identify with it

How many times do you do something because you think it’ll make you appear better to the people around you? From the clothes you wear and the places you decide to eat to how you talk and what you do in your free time, how people perceive you has a controlling grip on your daily choices.

When you understand this within the context of social media, marketing and advertising begin to make more sense.

The human need for approval

The need for human approval is actually rooted in a very fundamental and natural place. Human approval results in better treatment. For example, you wear a suit and tie to an interview because you know it looks more professional and increases your chances of landing the job. You put your napkin in your lap and avoid putting your elbows on the dinner table because you know your mother will scold you.

But somewhere along the way, the need for human approval has become so strong that we actually have begun to identify with it.

According to Tom Ferry, CEO of YourCoach:

“Approval from others gives us a higher sense of self-esteem. We’re convinced that their recognition matters to our self-worth and how deeply we value ourselves.”

This is nowhere more evident than on social media. People post pictures, write statuses and share content that they believe will make them appear happier, wealthier or (insert any other word that applies). They wait for likes, comments, retweets and shares. If the virtual adoration doesn’t come, they’re defeated. If it does, they’re on cloud nine.

While this clearly isn’t healthy, it’s where we are as a society that craves attention and approval.

From a marketing perspective, it’s not your job to change how society thinks and acts. It’s up to you to elevate your brand in a way that leverages the way society thinks and acts. In today’s age, that means tapping into the human desire for approval in your approach to social media marketing.

Social media marketing strategies

As you look for new ways to thrive on social media, it’s important that you recognize your customers’ need for approval and acceptance. What you’ll find is that strategies like these are most successful in this context:

Share product reviews: What’s the first thing that the average customer does when they want to make a purchase? They head straight to Google, type in the product and look for reviews. Then they log into their favorite social media platform and ask their friends for their opinions. Both of these actions are rooted in the need for approval. One practical way you can provide pre-purchase approval is by sharing review posts such as this one from The Luggage Council. Posts like this perform very well on social media because they provide affirmation and show customers that their peers approve.

Connect with social influencers: If you really want to engage customers in a meaningful way, social media influencers are the way to go. These people have “credit” among customers that your brand will never be able to achieve on its own. By connecting with influencers and using them to share your products, you can show customers that your brand is accepted by people with clout. Here are a few examples of good influencer marketing campaigns.

Prioritize shares: Marketer Leslie Nuccio makes the bold claim that going viral—or getting social media shares—is better than closing a sale. Her point is that word-of-mouth marketing on social media ultimately produces more long-term value than an isolated sale. When you share content, your goal shouldn’t be to make a sale at that very moment. While it’s great if somebody clicks a link and purchases a product from your website, you’ll get more value if you’re focused on driving word of mouth and building your brand through shares.

Tap into human desire

Psychologist Michael Formica explained:

We have an inside and an outside—an interior landscape and an exterior landscape. Our interior landscape is our subjective experience of our authentic self, while our exterior landscape is a product of our worldview. The two together create a psychosocial dynamic, but that dynamic has only one reference point, leaving us balancing self- and other-perception.

Over the past decade, social media has become the medium through which people seek this balance. While there are plenty of arguments for why this shouldn’t be the case, the fact remains that this is where the majority of people go to find acceptance.

As a marketer looking for results, you should find ways to ethically leverage this societal tendency to elevate your brand.

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