Politicians do it all the time.
So do other public figures.
Heck, even my doctor does it when she wants to make sure I believe her opinion.
What is it? Psychological tricks that influence our attitudes and behavior towards them.
Ever noticed how they always use gestures that show open palms?
As it turns out, seeing open palms makes us feel more safe in their presence and trust what they say.
Or how they point and wave at different people in the audience when entering the room as if they knew them (where in reality, they have no clue who they are)?
Doing so makes an impression as if they were connected with and cared about the community to which they’re speaking.
And notice that when shaking hands politicians always position themselves sideways to you or a camera to make sure that their hand is on top.
Why? Because we subconsciously think that the person whose hand is on top is more powerful.
These are just some of the non-verbal tricks that make us like, trust and follow a person. And you know what, there are many you could use to achieve the same effect on social media.
In this post, I will show you five psychological tricks you could use to make your followers like you, trust you, and do your bidding.
Ready? Let’s do it.
#1. Fill Your Profile with Cues Confirming Your Authority
We have no clue what makes someone authoritative. But we’ll follow anyone who looks to us like they know what they’re doing.
And that’s because, you see, to most of us, authority is a perceived value.
We identify people as authoritative solely on superficial cues. In his seminal book, Influence, Robert Cialdini lists some of those signals:
- Titles – an impressive job title indicates position of power/experience
- Clothes – for example, official uniforms signal authority. But similarly, expensive clothes might suggest it too
- Trappings – Indirect cues, like accessories that accompany authoritative roles.
What’s more, we’re willing to go to great lengths to do those people’s bidding…even if it means hurting the others.
Just take the findings of the famous Milgram experiment, for example, that examined how ordinary people during WWII could have acted so inhumanely, without any limitations of conscience and cause pain to others.
The experiment concluded:
“Ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being. Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we are brought up.
People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and / or legally based. This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations, for example in the family, school and workplace.”
Naturally, the above is an extreme example.
But the fact remains, we tend to do the bidding of those we perceive as an authority.
And one way to increase your influence on social media is position yourself as an authority by displaying various authority-suggesting cues in your profile.
#2. Validate Your Ideas with Graphs and Visual Data
Here’s another mind trick we often fall for:
We believe claims that are supported by graphs or visual data…
…and that’s even if they don’t add any new information to the claim whatsoever!
A study from the School of Management at the University of Minnesota found that presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in getting the audience to do their bidding (source).
Other studies (like this one on “Science-y” Images, and this on Charts and Graphs) discovered that we are significantly more likely to believe advertising claims about the effectiveness of medication if the said claims are accompanied by a scientific looking graph.
But the trick is…the graph doesn’t have to add anything new to the claim! Just like this one:
Even though it practically means nothing, we’re more likely to believe any relevant claim it accompanies. Crazy, huh?
But here’s the thing…
Given the popularity and effectiveness of visual social media updates, you could use this trick to your benefit:
Every time you’re about to tweet a claim or idea, accompany it with a scientific looking visual.
Not only it will attract more attention but also make your claims more believable.
#3. Never Dissimilar Attitudes from Those of Your Target Audience
We’ve already talked about displaying authority cues in social media profiles. But when doing it, remember about another trait of the human behavior:
We prefer people who have similar attitudes to us.
This behavior is called the Repulsion Hypothesis. According to the theory, developed by Dr. Michael Rosenbaum in 1986, similarity does not lead to liking. But attitude dissimilarity almost always leads to repulsion.
In other words, the more you’ll differentiate yourself from the target audience, the less likely they will be to follow you.
Another theory proving the existence of this psychological trait is the Communication Accommodation Theory.
According to the theory, whenever we talk to someone, we subconsciously change our accent, words we say, and speed at which we talk to match the style use by the listener.
We do the same with nonverbal behaviors.
What’s more, if you ever notice someone doing this when speaking to you, it’s a clear signal of agreement and liking.
On social media, this means never allowing yourself to exhibit attitudes that contradict the ones of your audience.
#4. Retweet/Share Any Positive Mentions of Your Brand or Product
I hinted at the effectiveness of using social proof in social media profiles already. But there’s more to it than just showing how many followers you have.
To understand this psychological trick, though, let’s recap quickly what social proof is.
We humans are pack animals. We exhibit what Friedrich Nietzsche called the Herd Morality – “lacking any individual will and living by group instincts” (source).
In other words, we often assume that if others are doing something or have done something or believe in something, they must be right.
And naturally, displaying social proof adds credibility and authority to anyone who shows it, builds trust in them, and simplifies decision-making process (i.e. about whether to follow them or not).
There are many forms of social proof, but one works particularly well when you want to convince someone to your authority and credibility:
The Expert Social Proof
I’m sure you’ve noticed:
Many people or brands you follow often retweet updates that mention them in different contexts. It could be a response to their product but also that someone has seen them presenting, their product in use and so on…
On the outset, it might seem that they do it just to brag about their achievements.
But in truth, they use those positive mentions to offer social proof that will make you believe them, trust them, and follow them more.
The expert social proof relies on using a credible source (a celebrity, an expert or any other authoritative person your audience recognizes) to endorse, approve or even mention a brand, product or a person.
It could be a full-blown endorsement or just a simple mention, doesn’t matter. What matters is that this trick immediately adds another authority cue to your profile.
So, next time someone mentions your brand or product, immediately retweet the update on your social profiles.
Even though it means like a little, doing so will have a huge effect on your audience.
#5. Ask People You Want to Like You to Do a Small Favor for You
You know, it’s quite funny: When we do someone a favor, we tend to like them more as a result.
And the reason for that is quite simple: We justify taking that action because we like them.
This behavior is called the Benjamin Franklin Effect. He said: “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” (source)
An interesting study by Jon Jecker and David Landy proved this theory.
The researchers invited students for an intellectual contest in which they could win a significant sum of money.
Afterward, one group of students were approached by a researcher asking to return the money, explaining that he has been using his money as the university funds were insufficient.
The second group were approached by a secretary and again, asked to give back the money as the psychology department’s funds were low.
The third group was not approached.
Then all participants were surveyed to see how much they liked the researcher.
And the result:
“Group B rated him lower than Group C (so impersonal request for a favor decreases liking). Group A rated him higher than group C (so personal request for a favor increases liking).” (source)
But how could the Ben Franklin Effect help you?
Just think about it:
If you’re trying to connect and build a business relationship with an influencer, for example, instead of just retweeting their content in the hope that they’ll like you more for it, try asking them for a small favor. Make it insignificant and don’t return it immediately. You’ll immediately land on their radar. And if they do the favor, you’ll also go up in their rankings.
What do you think?
Do you use any of these tricks already?
If not, can you see yourself implementing them into your strategy in the future?
Let us know in the comments.