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Social Proof in Social Media

 

Not long ago, as I scanned through my social
media sites one morning, I came across a blog post where someone shared six
reasons why they decided to give up alcohol. Curiosity got the best of me so I
clicked on the link to find out why the author made that choice.
All of his reasons were valid and probably the
best choice for him. What caught my attention more than his reasons were the comments
that ensued. At the time I read the post, all 15 comments were from people who
had also given up alcohol. There wasn’t one person who took the opposing view.
I decided to post a comment about why I choose
to drink alcohol. To every point he shared I could make the opposite case as
long as the drinking was in moderation. Despite the fact that according to a 2012
Gallup Poll 64% of Americans
drink alcohol on occasion, I felt odd posting my comment because I was
definitely in the minority.
It shouldn’t have surprised me that despite
the fact that two out of three Americans drink, all the readers said they
didn’t drink. As I thought about it two reasons came to mind.
The first reason was social proof (aka
consensus or peer pressure). This principle of influence tells us the more
people do something the more inclined others are to join in. In other words, we
get our cues for socially acceptable behavior by looking at how others are
behaving in the same situation.
This was a classic case of social proof in
action because the more people posted about their experience, the more others
felt free to do the same thing.  It’s not
just that other people posted that made the difference, it was that all the
posts were similar. You see, when we notice the behavior of people we view as
similar to us that magnifies the feeling that we should behave in the same way.
For example, if a teen sees a large group of
people doing something do you think they’re more inclined to follow suit if
that large group consists of other teenagers or adults? Teenagers, of course.
Another reason the comments gained traction
was due to liking. We tend to like those we see as similar to ourselves in some
way so readers seeing the author had a similar stance on alcohol made them like
him more and, therefore, made it easier for them to post.
Social media is amazing for so many reasons. At
my age I can easily recall the days before mobile phones, the Internet and
social media. Soon younger people won’t have any recollection of those days and
therefore might not marvel at the technology the way some of us do.
However, despite all the good social media can
do, sometimes it doesn’t change human behavior much. Prior to social media, and
still today, I bet you hang around people who are similar to you. Take politics
for example. My guess is the vast majority of your friends hold essentially the
same political views as you do. Being similar generally makes for less
contentious conversations and better times for the majority of people.
That same trigger applies to those with whom
we connect on social media, the blogs we read, the news stations we watch, and
so on. There’s nothing wrong with this but the more time goes by the more
entrenched we become in our viewpoints. Knowing our point of view isn’t always
correct, isn’t it worth it to stretch ourselves some?
Here’s my advice – make it a point to get
together on occasion with people who are different than you. If you watch Fox
News take a look at CNN sometimes, and if you’re a CNN person, watch Fox News.
Believe me, it won’t kill you. Follow some blogs or people you know who hold
different opinions than you do, if for no other reason than to try to
understand their perspective. You might be surprised at what you learn.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Why I Love Social Media

With nearly a billion Facebook users worldwide and more that 500 million people on Twitter I think it’s safe to say social media is here to stay. It is obvious people want a medium to voice their opinions and to connect with others. What’s amazes me more than those stats are the people who still decry social media and only look at it from a negative perspective.

One definition of “social” is “characterized by friendly relations” and I for one can say I’ve made a lot of friends because of social media and strengthened other relationships that were already in place. I’m going to list some people this week and I hope it inspires you to connect with people on your preferred social media sites. I hope you can make the kind of connections I’ve made around the world because I know I’m better off for it.
Don Hadler and Greg Buckingham are two guys I knew – barely – in high school but now consider very good friends. It’s doubtful we would have built friendships were it not for reconnecting on Facebook.
Michael Franzese is another person I went to high school but didn’t know well. We connected online, found some common interests and try to help each other out. Michael showed me and Abigail an awesome time in Chicago earlier this year. If you like my Influence PEOPLE logo Michael designed it.
Speaking of Chicago, Keelan Kane reached out to me over a year ago when he saw my post about checking in at the Westin. I invited him to come have a drink with me and Jane and we made a friend.
No doubt you’ve seen Sean Patrick’s name on my blog because of his guest posts. Sean was instant messaging me on Facebook years ago which lead to connecting on Skype. Eventually Sean made a trip to the States to stay with us for a week. How cool is that!
In addition to Sean I met Cathrine Moestue, Yago de Marta, Marco Germani, and Anthony McLean online and now they guest write for my blog as well. I know if I travel to Norway, Spain, Italy or Australia I’ll have friends to welcome me. Of course, they have a friend and place to stay should they make it to Ohio.
I met Hoh Kim while going through Robert Cialdini’s certification process together. We certainly would have lost contact were it not for Facebook and Skype. Hoh also guest writes for my blog.
Stella Collins lives in Great Britain and runs her own communication company. I don’t remember how we first connected but we’ve Skyped on several occasions and it’s been fun to get to know her, learn from her and share ideas.
Dennis Gilbert and I went back and forth on Facebook exchanging comments then his travels brought him to Columbus. Jane and I shared a meal – and some beers – with Dennis and got to know him. Our time together made me want to interact with him even more.
Locally I’ve met many people because of social media. Mike Figliuolo really stands out because he’s always given me solid business and blogging advice. He’s the essence of what social media is all about.
I met Justin Bryant on Twitter. We had a misunderstanding but sorted it out and became friends in the process. A social media success story.
George Black reached out to me and we shared several lunches before he moved to Tennessee. If it weren’t for George I might not have ever started this blog. Thanks George!
Mark Abate saw me speak at Franklin University and reached out. Now we have great lunch conversations at Tommy’s Pizza. It also allows me to get my pizza fix in George’s absence.
Marcy Depew and I connected on Twitter then happened to attend a coaching event where we sat next to each other. In addition to some social events we share coffee often.
Merri Bame and I connected online too and now make it a point to get coffee and lunch dated on the calendar. She was kind enough to connect me to John Millen, who I thoroughly enjoy, and Amanda Thomas who allowed me to speak at her networking event recently. Thanks for being a connector Merri.
Barbara Grassey and I became friends on Facebook and have fun bantering back and forth. One time she saw posts about Jane and I playing a competitive round of golf so she reached out to Jane to cheer her on. I think she likes Jane more than me now but that’s okay, I would if I were her.
I’ve gotten to know many people I work with much better because of social media. There just isn’t enough time in the day to connect with everyone at work so keeping track of what’s happening through social media helps keep us connected and makes the times when we do get together much better. Aaron Schaub, Edwin Medina, Steve Miller and Kon Chittavong are just a few people who come immediately to mind.
Last I’ll mention my daughter Abigail. I get a glimpse of how she thinks and interacts with friends as I look at her on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a view my parents never really got with me and my friends. On the flip side Abigail has seen me in ways I rarely saw my parents. She sees my sense of humor and how I interact with friends. We both know each other better because of social media. Note to parents; getting on Facebook or Twitter isn’t about keeping track of your kids, it’s one more way to connect with them, know them and understand them better.
I hope you see many of these relationships never would have come about if it weren’t for social media. Many of the people I’m friends with I’ll never actually meet but that’s okay because I know I’m still better off for having met them online and I hope they feel the same way about me. So my encouragement to you is to reach out to people, maybe some of the folks I’ve mentioned, and take time to interact with them because really good things can happen when you approach social media with the right attitude.
Brian, CMCT
influencepeople 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

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
influencepeople
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

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!”