Corporate Eye

Posting Pointers: The Psychology of Social Media Marketing

When it comes to social media, you are what you post.

Are you posting the right things at the right time? The last several years have proven social media to be a leading marketing strategy. It has taken over a domain once ruled by coercive television, radio, and print advertisements to stand on its own as an innovative method of advertising. It is dependent solely upon the relationship development between company and customer. Whether you like it, love it, or are simply waiting for its influence to fade away – social media is here to stay. And if the proliferating amount of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube icons adorning most websites doesn’t convince you, then the statistics will.

  • During 2010-2011, the net income of Facebook jumped from 606 million to 1 billion, 50 percent of this income coming solely from advertisements.
  • 47 percent of consumers in 2012 claim that social media platforms have the greatest impact on their purchasing behavior. This is up from 24 percent in 2011.
  • 77 percent of Internet users read blogs on a regular basis.
  • Individuals under the age of 30 make up over 50% of the world’s population; 96% of them claim to have joined a social network.

(Sources: www.; Universal McCann)

 Not many would argue that social media marketing is popular and powerful. But how does it work from a psychological point of view?

It’s all about image.

The power of social media marketing can be explained through a psychological concept termed social presentation. This concept is simple: appearance is important to people, especially in social situations. And people engage in certain behaviors in an effort to enhance their social image. If you look at Facebook as a continuous cocktail party, you can begin to understand how this concept applies. The social presentation theory also states that we manage our social image through purchasing name brand items that make us look good. If you replace the purchasing of brand name items with things such as ‘likes’ ‘+1’s’, status updates, photographs, and comments, then the relationship becomes clearer.

What to post? When to post? How to post?

Studies have shown that people use the Internet  to create ‘virtual online identities’.  A personal social media profile such as Facebook enables people to create these virtual identities.   For the same reasons people buy name brand clothing, people will ‘like’, ‘tweet’, or post the advertisements and companies that they feel boost their social image.

With this in mind, the secret to social media marketing is to present your company in a way that is attractive to Internet users. Internet users are constantly looking for material they can use as self-presentation leverage. So be strategic with your posts. Below are three tips from the experts on how to post effectively:

  1. Be Consistently Engaged – Post often and consistently. Psychological theories of persuasion claim that repetition plays a central role in consumer persuasion. The more they see you, the more they like you – so maximize visibility.
  2. Be Intriguing – Make your posts unique and eye-catching – and don’t shy away from using humor.  Be creative and make your marketing tactics stand out from the rest.
  3. Be Friendly  – Remember that relationship development lies at the heart of social media. Drop all corporate airs and interact on the same level as your customers.

In sum, the game of social media marketing is full of strategic moves, many of which have not even been realized.  And though there are many ways to play the social media game, one standard rule applies – create a marketing campaign that appeals to your audience.


For more information on the Self Presentation concept (Goffman, 1959)

For more information about social media in general (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2009)

For more on social media marketing strategy