90% of small businesses use social media for marketing purposes. And who is to blame them when social networks are one of the most promising channels for marketing.

While the presence of many businesses on social media makes the shopping, learning, and buying experience pleasant for the customers, it makes the arena more challenging for newer businesses to compete in.

So, marketers adopt different strategies to stand out from the crowd and help their target customers focus on their brand only.

One of these strategies is using human psychology.

This article will discuss how using a simple understanding of human behavior and psychological tendencies can help you build your success on social media.

How Does Human Psychology Relate to Social Media?

The use of human psychology has been influencing marketing efforts and their outcomes for a long time now. Some of the most popular and promising marketing strategies have been based on an understanding of human behavior.

For example, have you ever clicked on one of Buzzfeed’s clickbait-y titles? You must have, and if you have, you have been a victim of an intelligent marketing effort based on human psychology.
You see, every human action comes out of a series of steps:
A- Action
B- Belief
C- Consequence
These steps are also called the ABC of cognitive-behavioral theory. According to this theory, human belief determines how they respond to a particular action-inducing event and what they will do in consequence.

As a brand, you have to build a belief in your prospects’ minds that they want what you are selling. Once that’s done, you can blend psychological triggers discussed below to compel them to take action, such as view your website and ultimately lead them to conversion.

Humans use their brains to make purchase decisions. So, to compel them to buy from you, you have to modify their cognitive response to your message.

Using psychological triggers with social media marketing strategies can help you adapt your marketing approach to convince the human brain of your value and make them buy what you sell.

Psychological Tendencies You Can Leverage to Build Your Social Media Success

There are multiple human psychological aspects that shape modern marketing strategies.

Below we are discussing some of the most widely exploited aspects of human behavior when it comes to social media marketing:

Herd Mentality

Herd mentality is a human tendency to do what others are doing without ever asking why.

For example, if a person sees many of his peers buying from the same brand, he would automatically associate value to the brand and, when the need arises, will buy from that particular brand.

This fact is supported by research.

In a study, people were found mimicking the product choices of their peers when they didn’t know much about the different products offered to them.

In other words, this study showed that people went for what others got without even bothering to ask or learn about the alternatives, even if it meant the others were getting something of inferior quality.

You can leverage humans’ natural tendency to follow the mob somewhat blindly, just like many brands have been doing for a long time.

Displaying your number of happy customers, social shares, or any other type of social proof can help you show your prospects how other people trust you with their time or money and subtly pull them towards interacting with your brand simply because of their inherent herd mentality.

Frequency Illusion

Has it ever happened to you that once you think of something, you start seeing that thing everywhere? If yes, you have experienced the frequency illusion or the Baader-Meinhof principle.

The Baader-Meinhof principles state that once you notice something, you become more aware of its presence. That’s the reason why when you think about whether there are any people who drive sports bikes to work every day. You start seeing more and more sports bikes at work.A study suggests that retargeting ads increases conversion. This means the more a person sees a brand, the more likely she is to interact with it later on.

Being an intuitive and successful marketer, you can leverage this phenomenon of increased human awareness after first interaction by making sure your brand appears in front of your audience again and again. By doing so, you will be able to drive increased brand awareness. Once more people know of your brand, you automatically build trust with your audience and subtly nurture them down through the conversion funnel.

Principle of Reciprocity

Why do brands give out a free sample? Because they are smart.

Marketing your brand using free samples builds on the reciprocity principle.

The reciprocity principle states that humans have a natural tendency to return a favor. And when you, as a brand, initiate a favor and give something to the audience without (directly) asking for anything in return, they are indebted to you. And will eventually buy from you to “return the favor.”This principle is the number one principle of persuasion. Therefore, it has long been and is still being primarily used by many businesses, large and small.

There are many ways you can build your social media success on human tendency to reciprocate a favor including:

  • Sending free samples
  • Offering discounts
  • Helping people outside of the scope of your business
  • Making them feel special.

Using one of these strategies in your social campaign can help you generate better leads and drive more conversions.

Sense of Belonging

In an era of fleeting human contact, people crave a sense of belonging. And you can build trust, loyalty, and a strong community by making people feel connected to you, your brand, and other like-minded peers.

This is the reason why many big brands have their social media communities. They build a place where their customers and prospects can come together, engage with each other and with the brand, feel heard, listened to, and connected.

See how Red Bull just got a loyal customer and potentially many word of mouth referrals?


If you already have many customers, building a Facebook exclusive group is a great way to bond with your current and potential customers. So, when push comes to shove, or it’s time to pick sides, they can go with the brand they are connected with.


Humans are emotional beings. They feel first, think next. And therefore, no matter how hard you try to deny it, all our buying decisions are influenced by an element of emotion, one way or another.

Posts that have a higher emotional value are more likely to get shared. Additionally, people having an emotional association with a company are more than eight times likely to trust them, seven times more likely to buy from them, and 6.6 times more likely to let go of their mistakes than brands with which they have no emotional connection with.

Therefore, emotional marketing is the strongest weapon in every marketer’s arsenal. Here are some emotions you can incorporate in your social media marketing strategy to reach your goals:


Happiness is contagious. And in a largely negative society, people love sharing positive content because they want to share their joy with their peers.

Different types of content can evoke emotions of happiness and content among your audience. These include posts reflecting achievements, which builds on humans’ natural tendency to celebrate with people they are connected to, and humor, because who doesn’t love a good laugh.

You can share happy stories about your employees or minor brand achievements on your social media handles to help your customers see the “other side of the picture.” By doing this, you will be able to humanize your brand, and your customers will feel like they mean more to you than just “money giving machines.”Additionally, using a bit of humor goes a long way. Understanding what makes your audience laugh and incorporating a joke or a witty remark here and there in your headline can drive more engagement than you can imagine.

Humorous content drives massive engagement and brand awareness. People are 49% more likely to share funny content than other types of content, regardless of how unimportant it is.

You can use social media graphic designing tools to generate positive and engaging content and then track their metrics using social media management tools to see how well your positive-content approach works in your favor.


Wonderment or awe is another emotion that gets excellent engagement and shares. A study that analyzed 10,000 most shared articles found that 25% of these articles leveraged the sentiments of awe and amusement.

Therefore, it is always a great idea to post content that pleasantly surprises your audience or offers them something unique or invaluable.

In their book “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” Tina Luna and Leeann Renninger claim that the element of surprise is critical to keep us engaged.

Surprise works on the brain’s dopamine system, making us more excited about something and more focused, and attentive to the subject. It works in four steps: freeze, find, shift, and share. That means, once a person has received a surprise and has processed it, they are naturally compelled to share it with other people.

This is probably why a New York Times article based on never-before visited travel destinations garnered over 500K shares. And the Oreo “Dunk in the Dark Campaign” not only became an international example of capitalizing on the moment and surprising the audience but also garnered massive engagement.Anger

Anger is a high arousal emotion. Which means it triggers feelings of excitement and a compulsion to act in people. If a social post evokes anger among people, they are compelled to do something about it. That’s why anger combined with low dominance or lack of control over the state of events can create viral content.

Using the low dominance/high arousal combination, people will be angry about a particular event highlighted in your social post, but they won’t be able to do much about it, so to vent their anger, they will interact with your post, comment on it or share it with their friends.

This does not mean offending your target audience but creating content that can help your prospects see that you share their anger on a specific topic and voice your stance against it.

The combination of anger and dominance can be lethal, which is why New York Time’s post on Amazon’s worst workplace culture managed to gather more than 7000 comments.

How can you instigate feelings of anger among your target audience without getting on their wrong side? Spark a controversy.

Controversy is a powerful tool many social media marketers use to drive brand awareness and segregate their audience into people whose vision aligns with their vision and are valuable to their business and those who aren’t.

Nike’s Dream Crazy case study is a perfect example of how evoking anger by striking controversy can be powerful for not only your brand awareness but also for sales, leads, and customer loyalty.

In 2016, American footballer Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the American national anthem and chose to take to his knee instead, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign. This action led him to being laid off from the American NFL.

However, in 2018, Nike hired Kaepernick to lead their Dream Crazy campaign, which sparked controversy and led many patriots to boycott Nike. However, in a crazy turn of events, people of color started supporting Nike. Even celebrities came out to voice their support for the brand.As a result of this controversy, Nike divided its target audience into a more focused group, gained $6 billion in brand value, and experienced a whopping 31% increase in sales.Sadness

Sadness ranks pretty low on the arousal chart, so using this emotion in your social strategy may not drive that many sales. However, it can bring brand awareness and enhance your brand reach.But why should you consider exploiting the human sentiment of getting sad at content that features other people’s distress? Because sadness leads to emotions of altruism or self-less concern for other people. This can incite feelings of helping someone, playing their part in people’s life and contributing to a noble cause.

People love helping people. So, sad content, when developed appropriately, has the potential of helping you earn more impressions and having more people know your brand.

Fear of Missing Out – FOMO

56% of people admitted to having a fear of missing out on critical updates, which makes them often log in to their social accounts.

You can capitalize on the ever-increasing human psychological tendency of knowing and being a part of everything to drive outstanding results for your social media campaign.

Using clickbait-y titles, offering limited-time discounts, and building an exclusive buyer-only community are all innovative ways of exploiting your prospects’ FOMO and using it to your advantage.

Buzzfeed titles are a clear example of how evoking FOMO can get you increased shares. However, they are also an example of how you can end up losing some of your authority if you don’t deliver what you have promised in your clickbait-y title.


Yes, you can find success on social media by leveraging the human psychological response. And many brands have been doing it for a long time.

Herd mentality, sense of belonging, reciprocity, and frequency illusion are all common psychological tendencies marketers have exploited to build their social media success.

However, emotional social media marketing is the biggest driver of social engagement. Therefore, to truly leverage human nature of getting emotional and acting upon how they feel, you have to include emotional triggers in your social media content to alter your consumer behavior and subtly drive them towards making a decision that serves your business.



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