Cialdini’s Principles of Influence Applied to Social Media

I just finished Jeffery Gitomer’s latest book, Social Boom. I’m a Gitomer fan and although the book was very basic I thought it was still pretty good nonetheless. It’s not a “how to” book on detailed things you can do with different social media sites. There are plenty of “how to” books out there to help you in those areas. Gitomer’s focus is more about the strategic use of different social media tools to build your brand and business. The best book I’ve read to date on social media was Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. I liked the book because the authors tap into many different principles of influence as ways to build your networks. That makes sense because social media is about people reaching out and connecting with one another and whenever people are involved an understanding of human psychology is helpful. Because I know many of you who check in on my blog regularly don’t enjoy reading as much as I do it’s a safe bet the vast majority of you won’t be running out to by a copy Trust Agents or Social Boom anytime soon. However, I know many of you enjoy learning tips that can help you get more out of your social media experience. So here are a few basics ways you can use the principles of influence to get more bang for your buck. Liking is the principle that tells us people prefer to say “Yes” to those they know and like. To engage liking in social media, here are two simple things to focus on – similarities and compliments. When you try to connect with someone it can be as simple as putting a personal message that highlights something you have in common in a Facebook friend request. I have many Facebook friends around the world because of this principle. I got those friends because I reached out to many of Dr. Cialdini’s Facebook friends and when I did so I included a personal message to let them know I knew him and was a one of his trainers. He was our connection or similarity if you will. Compliments are easy to use also. If you’re trying to connect on LinkedIn a personal message is the preferable way to go, also, rather than the standard, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” In your message include something that you admire or appreciate about that person, letting them know that’s part of the reason you’re reaching out, and the odds they’ll accept your request will go way up. Reciprocity is the principle that describes the reality that we feel obligated to give back the same form of behavior first given to us. For example, on Twitter quite often simply choosing to follow someone will lead them to follow you in return. That’s why most people’s “Following” and “Followers” numbers are so close. I don’t advocate following everyone just because they followed you first but the vast majority of following happens that way. One other way to engage this principle is to reach out to others to help them. Whatever you have in terms of time, talent or expertise, look for ways to give some of that away because those who avail themselves will naturally want to help you when you need it. Consensus lets us know people feel comfortable following the crowd because generally there’s safety in numbers. When we see someone has thousands, or tens of thousands, of Twitter followers, or 500+ LinkedIn connections that sets in the minds of many that those are people worth following. If that wasn’t the case then why would so many others connect with them? Regularly working whatever networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Cinch, etc.) you’re on will eventually pay dividends because the more people who are connected to you the more others want to be connected too. Be patient because it can be like a snowball rolling down a hill. It takes time to see the snowball grow but once it gets going watch out! Authority highlights the reality that people like to follow the advice of experts. What is your expertise? Do you highlight it somehow on your social media networks? If you aren’t then you need to start because it gives people a reason to want to connect with you. Until a several years ago I was like many other sales trainers but my passion for influence and persuasion led me to go deeper in that particular area. Now that I’ve started blogging, people in more than 160 countries have taken time to read what I write. When that fact is shared it’s amazing the instant credibility with others. Consistency is the principle of persuasion that tells us people feel psychological pressure to behave consistently with what they’ve previously said or done. The key to tapping into this principle is either knowing what someone has said or done in the past or getting them to commit to you in some way. Getting them to commit to you is easy to do because all it takes is asking questions. Sometimes the person will say no to your request but when they say yes the odds that they’ll follow through go up significantly. So if you need help, ask people. You’ll be surprised at the number that will do so because social media is about connecting, helping and growing. Scarcity describes the reality that people want what they can’t have or what they perceive to be rare. For me something that I can highlight to tap into scarcity is the fact that only about two dozen people in the world are certified to teach influence and persuasion on behalf of Dr. Cialdini. When people learn that fact it makes them more curious and they naturally to want to engage me. What do you have that makes you rare, unique or different? Get that out there and it will make more people want to connect with you. This is a very brief overview of how you can use the psychology of persuasion to make your time and effort in social media more worthwhile. Hopefully you’ll find the tips useful. If you’ve seen how you’ve successfully used some of the principles in your social media circles please leave a comment so we can learn from you.Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Is Expert Advice Always Worth the Price?

A few weeks ago I took the day off to blog and do other social media related things but as the hours passed I had writer’s block. Nothing was coming to me until I read a very interesting article, Chris Brogan – Anchoring and Social Proof – Influencing Your Audience, by Paul Hebert. The article talked about how Chris Brogan, a social media guru, publicly stated his $22,000 a day fee for his consulting services. The angle for Paul’s article was how this publicly stated price impacts what other consultants can charge because of the anchor that’s been set.

The article also explores the principle of consensus (a.k.a. social proof) because undoubtedly other social media consultants will move in the upward direction as they see peers begin to do so. It’s a very interesting article so you should take a look.


Here’s my question for you (please feel free to comment below) – Would the advice Chris gives be worth $22,000 IF you or I could give the same advice but we charged significantly less only because we’re not as well known? In other words, is the advice more valuable just because it comes from Chris Brogan as opposed to me or you?

As I pondered this it brought to mind an article I wrote last year, Golf Advice from Corey Pavin. My wife Jane is an avid (addicted?) golfer! In that article I explained how I shared some golf advice with her. It was sound advice based on psychology but it went in one ear and out the other. However, weeks later she read a quote from Corey Pavin that was almost exactly what I had told her and she acted as it if was a revelation! For her it was more believable because it came from Corey Pavin. After all, he’s an authority having won the ’95 US Open.

But think about it for a moment, that fact that he said it didn’t change the reality that the advice was the same and should have worked every bit as well for Jane whether he said it or I said it. His expertise and track record make him an authority, giving him more credibility than I have when it comes to golf, but if you are going to pay for something based on authority shouldn’t you get something more for your money? Shouldn’t the expert give something that’s new or unique in some way?
I’m sure a golf lesson from Corey Pavin would include other tips and insights most people couldn’t give and that would make his higher fee worth it for the average weekend golfer. By the same token, Chris Brogan probably brings additional perspectives other less savvy social media folks won’t have. My point is not to say Chris Brogan isn’t worth his fee, it’s to get you to think.
Part of the influence process is establishing your authority because it makes you more believable and as a result you’ll hear “Yes” more often. I have two points for you to consider when it comes to being influenced by a perceived authority:
  1. Is this person really a legitimate authority? Chris Brogan has authority status having written Trust Agents (a very good book by the way) on using the web to build influence. Because of his work and time in the social media arena he’s recognized as an expert in the field. But that’s not always the case. For example, many spokespeople on TV have no real expertise and yet we’re subconsciously swayed by them.
  2. Is the advice something I could get elsewhere for less (money, time, effort, etc.)? Isn’t it disappointing to visit the doctor only to hear, “Rest it and take some Tylenol”? An expert – yes – but worth the money? Probably not when we all know rest is helpful and Tylenol reduces pain and discomfort. Or maybe you’ve attended a conference with big name speakers only to walk away thinking, “I didn’t learn anything new.” Worth it? Probably not because we expect something more from the expert.
The mind is an amazing thing. If someone believes Chris Brogan’s advice, or Corey Pavin’s, more than my advice or your advice (and lets assume it’s the same advice) then they’ll probably work harder to implement it. I know Jane will stay on the driving range for many more hours trying whatever Corey says, as opposed to what I might suggest, and she will be a better golfer as a result of her extra effort. Businesses will likely do the same with Brogan’s advice and that will legitimize his fee. Maybe that’s some of the value they offer?
The question of value reminds me of the experiment that showed kids prefer food in McDonald’s packaging and rate it as better tasting than the same food in plain packaging. As a parent, if it makes them eat the food then it’s probably worth the extra money and fewer hassles. If a customer is gung ho about the advice some authority gives vs. the same advice given by an average Joe then they’ll work harder to apply the guru’s advice and realize more benefit from it. If that happens I think you can legitimately say the expert advice was worth it.

In closing I’ll share a fascinating resource on this subject of value, the book Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value and How to Take Advantage of It. I read the book not long ago and it was an eye opener about how people value things. I highly recommend it because it will change your outlook as a consumer.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”