Web Marketing Influence: Liking

We like to do business with people we like. So, how does that impact your web marketing and social media activities?

You like me! You really, really like me!

In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he talks about the tenets of influence. So far we’ve seen reciprocity, commitment & consistency, and social proof in action, and now we move on to liking.

It’s no surprise that we’re influenced by people we like…what’s surprising is the degree to which we’re influenced by people we like, or even those who leverage the names of people or things we like. (This is why the Tupperware party is so powerful, and why organizations send our kids’ friends to sell us candles and popcorn buckets we don’t need.)

We can see this at work on some of our favorite social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, that “suggest” that we might like a number of other people on the network, thus strengthening the network and lessening the chances that we’ll leave. The social ads on Facebook are similar, when they show a product and let us know a friend “likes” it.

There’s a number of things that impact our liking of a person or brand:

  • Physical attractiveness: You want to think you’re above such things, but you’re not. Study after study proves how susceptible we are to the physical attractiveness of people, even when we don’t realize we are. 
  • Similarity: In one study, marchers in a anti-war demonstration were more likely to sign a petition by a like-dressed person…even without reading the petition!
  • Compliments: It’s amazing what we’ll do when someone says “I like you” in word or deed. Studies show it doesn’t even matter if the compliments are true. (But seriously, your hair does look great today.)
  • Contact and cooperation: Studies have shown that the more we see a face, the more likely we are to believe what comes out of it is true!
  • Conditioning and association: This is why we hate the weatherman and why we blame the messenger. The flip side of this is associating our offering with something positive. When an attractive model was shown next to a new car, men were more likely to rate the car as faster, better built and more expensive. None of them believed this when it was brought to their attention. (Men…right?) This could explain some of the “green washing” that’s currently going on right now as brands want to be seen as green.

So how do you use this in your own web marketing and social media?

Unfortunately, most of you just aren’t as physically attractive as I am. However, eating right, exercising and wearing flattering clothes can help. Comb overs are a definite no-no.

Here are some ideas on how you can improve and bank on your own likeability:

  • Be attractive. OK, maybe being physically attractive is mostly in your genes, but on the Internet no one needs to know you’re a dog. That didn’t actually come out the way I meant. I mean, a smiling profile pic can go a long way. Also, confidence (not to be confused with arrogance) is an attractive feature. A positive attitude can help, too. Studies show that positive tweets get shared a lot more than negative ones.
  • Act similar to your customers. I’m not talking about being a fake, but I am suggesting that you use the same language that they do. This is especially true as you write articles and blog posts; you need to be talking about the same things they are, and using the same words they do so they’ll find you when they do a search at Google. 
  • Be complimentary. Again, don’t fake it. But you can certainly find positive things to say about people through social media, directly in emails, and through other venues. We all know that guy who makes snide remarks and is always trying to cut people down. It didn’t work for him, did it?
  • Be everywhere. Or at least appear to be everywhere. I’ve heard time and time again that people always see me on LinkedIn. In actuality, I only spend a few minutes a week at LinkedIn, but I subscribe to the daily email digest of relevant groups, and join in the conversation when I have something to add. I’ve talked to many other social media marketers who always seem to be on Twitter, but are only on there 15 minutes a day in short bursts.
  • Associate your brand with popular topics. Create blog posts that tie into current or past pop culture icons that have positive associations for your customers. 10 Things I Learned About Self-Esteem from Miss Piggy or The Amazing Spider-Man Guide to Responsible Word Power.

Do you have any examples of how you’ve used liking in any of your web marketing or social media campaigns? Did it work? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. I promise I’ll like any reasonable comment.

Next Weapon of Influence: Authority

Rich Brooks
Voted Most Likeable Boss At Flyte 15 Years Running

4 Responses to “Web Marketing Influence: Liking”

  1. Susan

    This was a great article I referenced today in a meeting to teach business owners about networking. Same principles applied and they all appreciated it. Again, thanks for sharing. You are “attendance” at a Texas meeting today helped me look good.

  2. Carrie

    The Influence book you reference looks like a great resource, but I believe you are supposed to disclose an affiliate link…

  3. therichbrooks

    You know, Carrie, at first I thought you were way off base. But after looking into it, you’re right. While I had believed that the only time you had to disclose such a relationship was if you received product, or had been paid for a review, it seems that even something as small as an Amazon affiliate link needs to be disclosed.

    I’m not sure that I like the “aff” after every link (it ruins the reading experience) I do think there’s something that needs to be done, whether a Disclosure statement or a title tag when you roll over the link.

    What do you do?

    And thanks for the heads up!