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Are You a Twitter Snob?

I’m still a total novice, a geek you might say, when it comes to Twitter. I signed up at the advice of a friend and have mostly tried to use it as a tool to promote this blog. Facebook continues to be the place where I get more personal.

Because I just didn’t feel I was getting the hang of Twitter I bought Twitter Power by Joel Comm. For my wife and daughter, the fact that I would buy and read a book like that confirms them that I am indeed a geek, a twit, a tweet.

As I type this I’m half way through the book and have learned several good pointers. But, this post isn’t about the book; rather it’s about what I’m observing about Twitter from a social influence standpoint.

First I must confess, I’ve become a Twitter snob. Are you? You might discover you’re one too and didn’t know it. Why do I say I’m I a snob? Well, for the simple reason that I don’t “follow” everyone who follows me. Kind of rude isn’t it? In my defense there’s a psychological force at work on me. It’s called consensus, also known as social proof.

Consensus is the psychological principle whereby people look to others for clues on how to act. That gets heightened when we are not sure what to do. So I’m new to Twitter, fumbling around not knowing what to do and I look to see what others are doing. I’ve received notification that people or organizations are following me so I pop over to their Twitter home page to see what’s up. Here’s where consensus comes into play which leads me to a question for you. If you saw “Following 1,567” and “Followers 138” would you be like me and wonder, “Why are so few people following this person?”

It’s not that 138 is a small number; after all, we all have to start somewhere. The problem is that 138 is a small number compared to 1,567. We naturally compare and contrast to gauge things. It’s no different than looking inside a small restaurant, seeing a large crowd, people waiting and all the tables filled. I don’t know about you but when I see that I naturally assume it must be a good place. By contrast, when you pop your head into a large place and see more empty tables than full ones it’s easy to conclude something must be wrong with the food, service or something else. In reality there may be more people in the big restaurant but you don’t really notice that. In both cases we’re influenced by groups, or lack of, and that is heightened when comparing it to the number of tables.

At first I felt bad not following someone who followed me. My feeling bad goes to another principle of influence, reciprocity, which tells us we should respond in kind when someone does something for us. Someone smiles at us and we smile back or they do something for us and we feel obligated to return the favor. So naturally, when someone follows us on Twitter we feel somewhat obligated to follow them back.

So what’s a person to do if they find themselves in a follower deficit? Again, I’m no Twitter expert but here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Friends and Family – Use the AT&T strategy and try connecting with people you know so they’ll follow you and you can build up that number.
  • Sympathy – Start sending messages to some of those you follow to tell them you made a mistake and ask them to start following you.
  • Slow Down Cowboy – As people do start following you, don’t be so quick to follow back for a time so you can even out your “following” and “follow” numbers.
  • Last Resort – If all else fails, set up a new Twitter account and be more careful as you build up your followers. This might seem like a hassle but it will be worse to go months, maybe years and never see many followers.

Again, I don’t claim to be an authority on Twitter, that’s why I needed a book! However, I know enough about social influence to realize when people are shooting themselves in the foot. By the way, feel free to follow me on Twitter or become my friend on Facebook. Links to both are on the side of the Web site.Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Coming to Terms

I thought it would be good time to review some influence and persuasion terms with you. A few of these you’ve seen in some past blogs and others you will certainly see in future posts.

Understanding and ethically applying these psychological principles doesn’t guarantee everybody will do what you want. After all, they don’t represent some kind of magic wand. However, I can say with certainty; if you employee these more strategically and regularly you will hear more people say “Yes!” to your requests.

As you read through these you might think, “That doesn’t apply to me” or “I don’t fall for that.” That assessment may be true quite often but certainly not all the time. To get you to critically think it through I’ve added a question after each principle to give you cause to pause and think. While you may have seen right through some manipulative person’s attempts to persuade you, I’m willing to bet there are other times where you were influenced into action without even knowing it.

Reciprocity – Some might describe reciprocity as the “good old give and take principle” or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” This principle describes the internal pressure we all feel to return the favor. At its most extreme it might be the person trying to think of a way to repay someone who saved their life. For most of us it’s as simple as picking up the tab at a restaurant because our friend got it last time. Have you ever sent someone a Christmas card because they sent you one first? If so, it’s because of reciprocity.

Liking – In business there’s a saying, “People like to do business with people they like.” Jeffrey
Gitomer, sales trainer and author, likes to say, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” We like to be around people we like and they naturally have more influence on us than those we don’t know or don’t like. In turn, the more likable we are the more persuasive we’ll be. Have you ever bought something because a good friend recommended the product or service?

Consensus – A farmer would say we’re like cattle because we like to “mooove” with the crowd. When we see lots of people taking action, or people just like us, quite often that’s enough to get us to go along with the crowd. You’ll also hear consensus referred to as “social proof.” Be honest now; have you ever stood up during a standing ovation when truthfully, you didn’t think the performance deserved it? If so, it’s because you were moved along by the actions of others.

Authority – We don’t have enough time to weigh all the decisions that come our way so quite often we defer to people we view as authorities, or experts. In fact we do so with such regularity that studies show our brain activity actually slows down when experts tell us what to do! In other words, critical reasoning can go right out the door! Experts need not be actual people either. Have you bought something, perhaps a car or major appliance, primarily because Consumer Reports rated the vehicle high?

Consistency – We all feel an internal pressure to live up to our promises. We feel good about ourselves when our words and deeds match, when we’ve done what we said we would. Have you ever found yourself doing something, not because you really wanted to (i.e., help someone move), but because you gave your word?

Scarcity – When we sense something is becoming less available or diminishing in some way, there’s something in us that all of a sudden wants the thing even more. When was the last time you rushed out to the store because you suddenly remembered, “Sale Ends Sunday!”? If that was you it’s because you were motivated by the potential loss of an opportunity.

Compare and Contrast – Did you know two things can appear more different than they really are depending on how they are presented? Considered for a moment how that might impact your decision making. For example, you go to the store to buy something and you’re not sure what that item might cost. When you arrive you see a sign that states, “Normally $150, now only $99!” By comparison $99 appears to be a very good deal. I’ve hear people justify purchases like that because “it was too good a deal to pass up.”

So there you have it, the layman’s overview of several psychological principles than affect us all to one degree or another every day. Most of the time these principles impact us in such subtle ways that we’re not aware of it and yet they’re major factors in our decision making. As we continue our journey together I think your eyes will be opened to how politicians, marketers, salesmen and so many others try to persuade you to do what they want.

Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast is not a principle of influence; rather we talk about it as a phenomenon. Did you know the order in which you present things impacts your perception about the things presented? For example, if someone told you the price of a piece of furniture was $999 then quickly said, “I’m sorry, that wasn’t correct. The price is actually $799.” All of a sudden $799 seems like a very good deal in comparison to the original price. If the salesperson has originally quoted $599, then came back and told you the actual price was $799, now you’re disappointed because the price seems high…by comparison.

What you present first makes all the difference. If you own a restaurant and your wine list starts with $20 bottles and works up to a $200 bottle, very quickly the $60 or $70 bottle seems expensive when your eyes saw $20 first. But, if the list starts with the $200 bottle at the top and works down to the less expensive bottles, now by comparison a $100 bottle doesn’t seem so expensive and the $60 – $70 bottles appear to be a bargain. Odds are, by listing the highest priced bottles first, the average sale on a bottle of wine will be higher than if the restaurant starts with the cheapest bottles at the top of the list. If that’s all it takes to increase sales, then isn’t it worth the change?

Comparing and contrasting numbers and features are also important when thinking about reciprocity. What you present first can have a big, big effect on how future presentations are perceived. When you make your presentation undoubtedly there will be times when you hear the dreaded, “No thanks.” That’s a part of life and I suspect some of the reason you’re reading this blog – you want to be more successful – hear “No” less and “Yes” more. Most people hear “no,” and leave the situation feeling defeated but, if you’re ready with an alternative proposal, one that looks even better by comparison, then the other person might just say “Yes.”

And that’s your overview of comparing and contrasting.