I’m no psychologist but have a keen interest in the study of why people do what they do.
From my readings, it’s not surprising the reason we engage in social is much the same reason we choose to engage in the real world. We are social, it’s been built in into our genes from a moment long before the the Phoenicians developed the alphabet 3500BC.So here’s our version of it all with some pointers to get into the psyche of your audience and strengthen your relationship.Recognition I think first and foremost its recognition, which can be as small as a follow on Twitter or a connection on Linkedin. People want to be acknowledged in the space they’re in. Recognition both in the on and offline worlds is a great ego boost, makes you feel part of something and fuels our desire to want to belong.With this in mind, how can you make sure you recognise your customers in the social spaces? First off your going to need to find them!AttentionSmall children crave it and we never seem to loose the need for attention. Attention is one step on from recognition and is where the one to one conversation can come into play. By paying attention to the audience, you are providing a motivation for them to engage with you further and strengthen the relationship they have with you (or your brand). So once you’ve found your audience take an interest in their status updates, posts and image uploads and talk to them about it.AdvocateTo advocate a users activity will make them feel as if they are on the right track or have provided value to a/your community. I have always felt a comment like in face book is a little fickle these days, so yes go ahead a like a users comments, but why not go further and endorse their activity by adding your own comment, if a user creates a video message, why not reply to the video with a video message yourself. Advocate your audiences social activity, the more effort you put into your response the more esteem your audience will feel.EsteemThe more esteem you can feed your users the more likely they re-engage with more great conversation and value to your business and the community. Tell your audience what a great job their doing and how you value their efforts, this can be done as sweeping statement occasionally but it’s much better to keep the individual conversation going.CreditOne on from a pat on the back (esteem), how can you further increase your audiences satisfaction of engagement. Put simply, offer credit where credit is due. For those users who have created content that is of a high standard or really provided some value, why not feature them and talk about their content in your channels.Iin an active community you almost provide a gaming and social comparison element with users clambering to get their content featured, those who have received credit are very happy with themselves (looking down) and those who have not are working towards receiving the credit (looking up).Relieve DoubtIn the real world we are always looking for methods to relieve doubt when making decisions, an obvious example of this is a product warranty, we want to know that is something goes wrong with a product we can quickly get it replaced, i.e. if we do business with a brand they will be there to support our needs. The same goes in the social environment people need to know that they will be heard, included and needed, as a brand you can assure them by maintaining communication throughout the sales cycle from first contact to customer support.AlignmentUsers often comment on or re-purpose content they feel has a intrinsic and extrinsic value to them, they will align themselves to content. Intrinsically it may help boost a personal skill set, extrinsically they feel the need to show their peers that they align themselves to the belief of the content or brand which makes up part of their personality. Help your audience to align their interests with yours, start by finding a middle ground to start a conversation.In conclusionTo the pessimist this post may sound like you’re pandering to a vein society with lots of fluffy words to make everyone feel better (now slightly gagging at the thought) and to the optimist I’m sure they think that if they can do all this, they’ll see the money rolling almost immediately. To the realist, however, to get your audience on-board and advocating your business you must positively and proactively engage with your audience, to create inbound revenue by strengthening word of mouth/mouse and ensure you’re winning the battle of mental real-estate for your brand.