People believe that it is purely their choice, when they determine what to do, where to go, what type of information to consume … Is that the case? Not really. It started a long time ago and continues to this day, the majority of people’s actions are done under the influence of their reference groups. In sociology, this phenomenon is called “secondary socialization”. The place does not matter, whether in kindergarten, school, college or work, we are strongly influenced by the environment, which determines much of what we do …
3 levels of illusion
Nothing has changed to date as we live in an era of digital, omnichannel and other cool things. We are still caged by social groups. Below are some reasons for this, and why marketers should take it into consideration.
Sharing. Social tyranny
In the world where so many people create a lot of poor content, finding something precious is disruptive. It’s a nice feeling. Is not it ? The main result is an increase in the cost of finding content that is relevant and useful.
So we have a growing number of … social influencers! They are our friends, our colleagues, opinion leaders … We follow them and use them as curators, because we trust them. But there are two other good reasons why we do it:
- We are too lazy to seek something on our own;
- We have a human habit of following our social group (as I mentioned before, it has a millennial history and is based on ideas of social efficiency and security).
This is why we have a simple fact. Over 60% of users consume content on social networks. So most of the decisions we make about content consumption are made by reference groups. Therefore, I bet you people will read this article, because they will find it in their friends’ Facebook news feeds.
Yes, you can use content curation services. To be honest, this is more of a prerogative of professionals and geeks, than a use of most users. I have tried to popularize curation tools, for example among my students, but no significant effect has been achieved. They are more focused on encounters and youth experiences, rather than on the effective use of information. I think it’s normal.
Social reactions = SEO. Search tyranny
As of 2013, one of Google’s ranking indicators is social reactions (likes, sharing, +1, retweets, etc.). Shared content is considered the most valuable by Google. And you probably think like that too. Because the company approved it. Logic as the rule of signs of Descartes.
So, we have a sad picture:
- Relevance is no longer a main factor;
- Popularity and social approval are essential.
I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to be a sheep in a herd. Where is the choice?
Referral services. Tyranny everywhere!
There seems to be a solution: personalization! From Facebook and Google, to the New York Times and Huffington Post. Almost everywhere, we see the rise of personalization, which helps us get content based on our interests or the interests of people like us.
Those familiar with personalization algorithms know that they are always based at least 50% on the interests of people similar to users. I have developed solutions based on collaborative filtering for several years, so I know the weaknesses of these methods.
For example, I get upset when I see Facebook recommendations. They just spam my feed with irrelevant content.
So again we do not consume what we want. We are still locked in by reference groups.
Why is it important for marketers?
Please understand me. In fact, I don’t think this is a big problem. We have lived with it for centuries and we don’t mind. But this is a really crucial factor for marketers, who want to reach a specific audience. Of course, this is also true for politicians. But this article is not about this subject.
Group leaders still count
There are always decision makers. It’s a waste of time selling to everyone. It’s much more effective to sell to opinion leaders. Because they are a marketing channel and a simple way to reach members of influence groups (followers, subscribers, readers …).
Be as social as possible
If you’re a big brand, it’s okay to talk about omnichannel, strategy and other things. But if you are a start-up or a small business, focus only on social media and good content! I fully agree that the content is an oil, but at the same time I am sure that social media is a bottle through which the oil flows. Because today, social distribution is the key to reaching the target audience and the success of SEO.
Social proof is everything
Yes. People are suspicious beings. They don’t buy if they don’t trust. If your friends like something, then you’re going to buy it with a higher probability. Do not try to go against the grain. Just use social evidence everywhere like me who adds internet references in this article.
I guess marketers will be more pragmatic and efficiency driven this year. Social media and content marketing are mature industries. There is no time for strange experiences. It is time to clearly understand why people consume something, why people like something, and why people buy something. It’s crucial to succeed in the future.
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