6 Ways To Master Social Promotions

6 Ways To Master Social Promotions

The Gap

the perception gap
Brain Solis recently wrote about, The Perception Gap, the difference between what marketers think that customers want and what they actually want – the difference being the gap.

In exchange for being a fan or follower on social networks people want special offers, promotions, exclusive content…This is echoed in other studies:

    • 64 percent of fans want discounts from brands or business they follow – sourceYellow Report
    • 40.5 percent will become part of a brand community based on an incentive –
      source: Incyte Report
    • People follow a brand to get discounts – Source: IBM
    • 83 percent of ‘fans’ expect to be deals or promotions on social media – source Pivot

How To Master Social Promotions

Robert Cialdini is the ‘God Father’ of applying social psychology to marketing. His book the Psychology of Persuasion outlines 6 factors on how to influence people which can be applied to promoting your brand on social networks. They will dramatically improve the results of your social promotion.

      1. Reciprocationsocial influence - reciprocation
        If you do something for somebody, they will feel obliged to do something for you, or they will at least feel better about doing something for you. Use this reciprocation if you are ‘giving’ something away ask your fans for something in return e.g. a CTA to share it. A study by Buddymedia showed that when fans are asked to share something the share rate is 7X higher.Action – In exchange for an offer build a clear Call To Action to share or like your social promotion.
      2. Commitment and Consistency

        People like to seem consistent in their thoughts, feelings, and actions. So a person who voluntarily commits to something, even just a little, will almost always follow through. On a promotion you may use this by getting people to enter some details to start with e.g. answer this question to get the promotion that right for you. If people make the first level of commitment they are more likely follow through later when you ask for an email address e.g. sign up to the newsletter. In social promotions use easy questions to get people to start a process.

      3. Social Proof

        Action – Develop the promotional mechanics to include small initial steps to gain information.

        Social proof, is the concept that people will do the same as others based on the principle that the ‘crowd’ knows best. In other words if other people are doing it, brought it, used it, then I will trust those people. It mainly works in situations of uncertainty i.e. you are buying a new product.

        How Amazon it – customer Reviews – potentially the most powerful of all the social proof examples. The written (or on some sites, video) review by a peer can contributes to people decision to buy. It builds upon the simplicity of the star rating, by providing depth and colour.


        The other interesting part of this is how people behave when given lots of information/choice. Choice reduces our tendency to buy because it becomes stressful. Whereas a limited number of choices can help the decision process. Too many options complicate selection, and hence cause frustration – see the RSA animate to see how choice affects decisions.

        Despite the myths of social proof you have to bear in mind that people are skeptical. So an anonymous quote won’t cut it, a link back to their site will or a review on a trusted site is more credible (ask yourself if there isn’t a more important influencer of trust and action than social proof). For a social promotion integrating live comments from Facebook or Twitter are valuable ways to deliver social proof; if relevant to the offer.

        Action – integrate Facebook likes or live comments and social feedback into your promotion.

      4. Liking

        We are more likely to be influenced (or purchase from) people we like. We trust people we know, we like people who like us and we like people who say nice things about us all factor into ‘liking’. And of course Facebook has built its advertising on the back of this.

        People are more likely to buy from people like themselves. If you have segmented your customer base and have associated marketing personas with each segment then you can use these to produce promotions that reflect the target audience. Of course promoting through friends e.g. using Facebook you can promote through friends of friends.

Action – Use Marketing personas to build relevant profiles and communications. Choose to promote through and use associations to promote outwards e.g from your Facebook page.

    1. Authority

      This is perhaps one of the most important influences – authority, because we’re programmed to obey. Most of us know about Stanley Milgram’s experiments, in which about 65% of subjects would shock someone to near death simply because a researcher demanded.

      Demonstrating credentials, experience and knowledge makes others more likely to listen to what we have to say. Some adverts use this by having ‘authority’ figures endorse their products e.g. dentists for toothpaste backed by statistics on how many….The key to this is the person having an authority in relation to the product or service being promoted. Added to this is the new dynamic from blogs where authority now is perceived rather than just being academic or professional. So choose the person carefully.

      Action – if relevant use a ‘authority’ figure to endorse your product or service; make sure they are relevant.


    2. Scarcity

      Scarcity is probably the most commonly used form of social influence used. It relates to supply and demand. Basically, the less there is of something, the more valuable it is and the more people want it.

      If your offer is limited to a certain number/ available only to the first X people or is only for a limited period. All these tactics promote a sense of scarcity with people and encourages them to act now.

      Action – Limit your offers either by number, period/time or to a set of people e.g. Facebook fans.

People Are Not Dumb

Using promotions can create a lot of buzz around your brand and create a pipeline of new customers. However, if used badly people will see through your tactics and probably just click away. Plan them in but be relevant to your audience, use them carefully and in context of your brand. Don’t pay for false testimonials or authority figures that really don’t like your brand or product – many companies have been caught out by a lose tweet, conversation or photo (of person with competitor product) from people.

  • Tie it in with your business objectives – what do you want to achieve – fan growth, email acquisition, brand awareness…be specific and measurable.
  • Be visual – use photos and good quality graphics to capture the attention of your audience
  • Make it irregular – making it unexpected can help you stand out and we all like surprises
  • Vary the promotional mechanic and theme – just because it was highly successful doesn’t mean you need to repeat it again and again – people will get bored; so be creative.