Web Marketing Influence: Commitment and Consistency

Drive SafelyPeople are hard-wired to be consistent, especially when they’ve publicly committed to a belief. How does that impact your web marketing & social media?

In chapter 2 of Robert Cialdini’s masterful Influence: The Psychology of Persuation, we learned that people have a knee-jerk reaction to responding in kind (or better) to favors…a trait referred to as reciprocity. Now, in the next chapter, we learn that we also wish to be seen as consistent.

Cialdini has a wealth of examples of this in his chapter, but one example that stuck with me is the story of people who agreed to put a giant, ugly sign on their front lawn, in front of their gorgeous home, that said Drive Safely. Not surprisingly, only 17% agreed.

However, in another group, they got an astounding 76% to agree to the same ugly signs! What was the difference?

Two weeks previous, they had asked this second group of home owners if they would put a small, inconspicuous window sticker about safe driving in their window. That’s all it took. These people then saw themselves as people who were serious about safe driving, so putting a gawd-awful sign that destroyed their property value was in keeping with their ideals.

In other words, they were being consistent.

There are examples from POW camps to hazing to getting people to write short essays on why they love brand X throughout the chapter, and how by getting people to make small commitments, (window sticker) you can move them to see themselves in a new light, and then take actions that are consistent with that new belief.

As is the case with all of these chapters, the techniques can be used for good or ill…that’s up to you. But if you make a commitment in the comments section below that you are an ethical marketer and will only use these for good, I think we’ll all sleep better at night.

So, how can you use Commitment and Consistency to improve your web marketing and social media techniques?

Here are some examples:

  • Run a Facebook contest where entrants write why they love/use your product or brand. The best answer will win the contest, but meanwhile, so many more people have publicly committed their loyalty to your brand, so now they see themselves as your evangelist. Just make sure that you use a 3rd party approved contest provider at Facebook, or the whole contest could backfire.
  • Run a similar contest on Twitter. In 140 characters or less, get people to say why they use your brand using your handle and/or a special hashtag.
  • Get a prospect to make a small yes, like download a whitepaper or sample.  If leads them to see themselves as a customer, you can follow up with an immediate, bigger ask. I.e., they download an article, and on the landing page (or at the end of the article) you then say, “Since you’re obviously such a dog lover/fitness buff/savvy marketer, you’ll want to join our exclusive club/buy this Quick Start Guide, etc.

Are there any (ethical) methods that you can think of that would tap into our need to be consistent to build your own business? Let us know in the comments section.

Next Weapon of Influence: Social Proof

Rich Brooks
Same As I Ever Was

Photo Credit: Marcus Q