If we really want to use social media for business effectively and receive the most benefit, we really do need to understand the psychology of the people who use it. A little term I call “Social Mediology”.
Recently a related piece of research on the unconscious motivations of consumers from the area of neuroscience conducted by Young & Rubicam entitled “Secrets & Lies” has largely be ignored by most social media marketers, strategists, and gurus.
The study was conducted with people from Brazil, China and the US and provides us with some valuable insights into consumer behavior and applications in your social media use.
What did they find?
They found that many consumers tell us one thing, but in reality hold views that are the just the opposite or clearly different than what they tell us. Meaning that a person is telling you one thing, but in reality believe something else. In this case people told the researchers that the “Meaning of Life” was the most important thing to them, however, through another series of tests the researchers found that unconsciously what was really the most important to these people…wait for it…”Sexual Fulfillment”.
Why? People in general always want to look good in front of others, even if it is on paper, and even if we say it the survey is “anonymous”. We need to convince ourselves that we are “good” people and that somehow we are “different” then what people may perceive us.
I like to think of it as the “Sunday Syndrome”, that is when people act different for short period of time on a Sunday morning during church, but come Monday they go back to doing whatever they do. Surveys have a tendency to create “Sunday Syndrome”. We start reading the questions and if those questions in any way could create a questionable perception of our behavior in others, even if we do not know them…we will more than likely select the answer that will make us look the best, or most morally or ethically innocent. Perhaps none of this surprises you. However, what may surprise you is that in this study people were okay with their own deception. Meaning that people were told that they were actually lying to themselves, but they were okay with it.
People Have Unconscious Views of Brands
So if you thought this study was just about how people do not tell us what they really are thinking on general level. The researchers also investigated how people really viewed brands. Not surprising people were not being honest about what brands they truly liked or disliked.
Interesting isn’t it? We will publicly say one thing about a brand, but underneath it all unconsciously there is really a brand that they either like or dislike. So often we will like something even when in reality we do not like it simply because our friends do, or it is a popular position to take, or perhaps it has less public risks. Whatever the reasons are those people will gravitate toward what their behavior takes them to. While it is easy to say, “I like Starbucks”, the behavior suggests they are probably drinking coffee somewhere else.
We need to learn to listen to what is not being said. What is not being said will speak louder than the words you heard.
What Does This Mean for Your Business and Social Media?
1. If you are relying on survey research to determine what people are doing or planning to do, you more than likely are not getting accurate information from them. Keep in mind that people consistently say one thing and do the opposite. You know, “I am not going to eat any sweets after dinner” what happens…a huge chunk of New York Cheese Cake manages it’s way on your fork.
2. You really need to constantly strive to understand the true underlying motivations of your future clients. If your business is in line with your future client motivations your business will do well (I am not suggesting that you offer some sort of sexual fulfillment practice as part of your business model). Watch their behavior.
3. Pay attention to what people are not saying on your social media platforms, face to face or in writing. We have a tendency to focus on what is being said. We need to learn to listen to what is not being said. What is not being said will speaker louder than the words you heard.
4, If you are basing your marketing content strategy on what consumers tell you…you have a pretty good chance of failing. You should experiment with content that people are not telling you about. You may even find that the very thing you are not talking about is the thing that people want to read.
People are not easy to decipher, yet we are predictable. I know that sounds a bit contradictory, but understand that a person’s behavior will reveal far more than what they tell you. It is always easy to tell the business one thing and do something completely different.
If you will focus on how people behave it will make it easier to measure and it will help you make much clearer predictions of how they will behave in the future. After all we may not know why we do what we do, but habits are hard to break. One thing is for sure you may not be able to count on people are thinking but you can count on their habits.
Stay Social My Friends!
Jay Izso, The Internet Doctor®