October 2015 - Small business consultant

Monthly Archives: October 2015

Community – does it need to be redefined?

This week we discuss the definition of Community and if it has changed with online and live streaming.

During the Blab, I asked the same questions on Twitter. You can participate by searching the tag #PsychologyofSM and answering the questions.
If you prefer to be prepared, here are the questions:
Q1 Does your idea of community differ online to in real life?

Q2 Do you include your stakeholders in your community?

Q3 Is Community still limited by location?

Q4 What role do mobile devices have in community?

Q5 Has live streaming influenced community?

Q6 Do you consider the overlap of communities?

Q7 How do you encourage community?

Q8 How do you handle change in your community?

Q9 Do you or would you outsource Community Management?

There was a large discussion around spheres of influence & how we share parts of ourselves across these. Additionally, we discussed that there are subcommunities in which we participate. The major issue people came across was handling change in communities. To combat that most business owners used education and ensuring that the goals & values of the community were continued through the change. Incredibly it is having these goals & values clearly defined that is key to business owners when they engage a Community Manager for their space.



What is Pinterest – A quick social media guide for business, including pinner behavior

Pinterest is a content curation tool. It is a place where businesses can go to collect ideas and content to share across social media, and this is how I started. But as always, it’s not about what you want to get out of the platform as a business. Key to a business’ success on the platform is understanding the behavior of their followers. This blog goes through some key technical tips & then digs into pinner behavior.

Watch my video from Blab about Pinterest.

In the US, 93% of users use Pinterest to plan their purchases & 96% of customers use the platform for research. Now, I am also one of these people who use the platform for research, particularly if the item is mainly American. For Australian readers, I would hazard the point that unless you can sell to the US I recommend using the platform for content curation as there are only 320 000 Australian Pinterest users.

There are three practical things you need to do first when establishing your Business Pinterest account.

Set up a business account

This is a 3 step process. Many people hesitate to set these up, feeling that they will then need to have their own account for their own purposes. This needn’t be the case. Having a business account then allows you to access the Pinterest Analytics. Having analytics is important not only so you can see what is popular, but also who is pinning from your site & how that’s being used. You can then use this information to develop more content or find more content around that item/subject.

Verifying your site

To see who is pinning from your site, your website will need to be verified. While for some this can mean a small change to the code (and a cost), for others using WordPress, the simplest way is to use their plug-in.

Setting up your Bio

These are the 160 characters you have to make an impression on people coming to your profile. It should include keywords for prospective customers & it can contain a link. You need to understand your followers’ search behavior &  this is discussed below.


The use of meaningful keywords can not be underestimated in Pinterest. These are the terms used by individuals to look for information, this is their search behavior. Don’t forget that pins are also indexed to Google, so I recommend using the Google Trends & Adwords tools to work out what is best for your pins (don’t forget to look at your analytics).

I also encourage you to change the keywords when you repin or pin from sites. You can not guarantee that other businesses will use optomised keywords or that they will be suitable for your audience.


Clear images are essential for Pinterest. I suggest using tools like Canva to create correctly sized images for your site, which will then be easily transferable to Pinterest. Make sure you include your logo in your images, you never know when it will go viral.

Make sure you use one of your images (if relevant) as the board cover for your boards. This free real estate is great for your marketing, but remember it must be appealing to your audience.

While Infographics can rule Pinterest, do not make them so long that people are constantly scrolling to get to the end of the information. In the main, you will lose readers once an image hits 2 pages. Be mindful that many users are on mobile devices and long infographics do not render well on smaller screens. You should look at your

Behavioral considerations

If I could shout one thing, it’s to remind businesses that there is a person on the other side of the screen. It is up to you to meet their needs and meet them where they are, not for them to step up to you and ask how you can help them.

People use Pinterest for 2 main reasons: to Inspire & to Aspire. To succeed on Pinterest you need to do both. Your content needs to help them where they are. It needs to be useful. It needs to answer a problem.

Long weekends and holiday weekends are high traffic times for pinners. As too are big sporting events. During this time businesses should be actively pinning & repinning to encourage activity on their boards and to attract new followers.

While content is the key consideration for pinning, you can use group boards to expand your reach. I would encourage you not just to choose active pinners & boards, but also be active on the boards.

Don’t worry if you come across something relevant to your business that you want to keep, but not share. You can have secret boards for those gems. These pins are hidden from prying eyes & competitors, so it’s handy for product research, client avatars, & future projects.

Other considerations

Rich pins

Rich pins are where key content has been pulled from the pinned webpage and displayed in the Pin description. Recipes are a great example. Read more…

Promoted Pins

Promoted pins allow business page owners in the US  to promote (similar to promoted Facebook posts) to Pinners. Read more…

Buyable Pins

Buyable pins are pins where a button has been added to link the viewer off to directly purchase an item. It is only available to the US and only on iphone & ipad. Read more…


How to use the psychology of reviews to improve your social media marketing

70% of Americans say that they look at reviews before they purchase and 90% of customers say that their decision was based on the reviews they read prior to purchasing. Online reviews and other forms of social proof form an important part of a business’ social media marketing. However, as we are talking about the human behaviour of making a purchase, be it online or offline shopping, then we need to consider the psychology of reviews and social proof.

I spoke about this on a live stream, you can watch the replay or scroll down to continue to read the article.

Types of social proof

When we think about social proof, we think of reviews and testimonials; however it can extend to such things as posts, videos, and brand ambassadors. In fact, there are five main types of social proof: Expert, Celebrity, User, Crowd, & Friends.


The expert social proof is based upon our opinion of the person or brand providing the proof. This social proof is generally seen in the form of endorsements, comments, and paid ads. These work on the psychology underpinning the ‘like, know, & trust’ effect. It builds upon the relationship that the expert already holds with the customer & uses their underpinning belief that the expert knows so it must be good.


Celebrity social proof uses the customer’s self-perception and their desire to improve their position. This is where businesses can use brand ambassadors to promote their products. They do not need to use A-list celebrities, anyone who their client looks up to will have this aspirational effect.
A good example is Oprah’s Book Club, any book listed has become best sellers.


This is what businesses classically know as social proof. These are the reviews, stars etc. seen on Facebook pages, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and Whirlpool. Psychologically these allow us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We are able to imagine their experience. This social proof concept draws directly from the psychology of the collective conscience.


The crowd effect of social proof marries in with the User form of social proof. However, it pulls upon the psychology of the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). This is where businesses can use numerics, through number of items sold, to encourage buying behaviour.


Friends are an incredible influence online. Just think to your own activities, how often do you ask friends about specific brands via social media? Consider how you feel if a friend has an adverse experience with a particular brand. Businesses can dig deeper into the psychology of Friends social proof as it also applies to people we perceive to be like ourselves.

Why people provide Social Proof

There are six main reasons why people give social proof: Altruism, Reward, Influence, Complaint, Loyalty, & Fame.


Customers will give you reviews because they want to help and they like to feel valued. In fact, just doing this can make them feel happy long after the actual event. Additionally, the act of providing the social proof can reaffirm the benefits they received from the purchase and reinforce that they made the right decision.


Some customers will provide reviews because they will receive something in return (discount, free items). This is where Brand Ambassadors fit, you send them items to use either free or heavily discounted in return for their endorsement.


Some people will provide reviews & feedback so that they can influence (change) the product or service. They are sometimes doing this altruistically, so that others will not have to share their experience, or so that their experience is improved in the future. (social listening)


Self-explanatory, but some people do just like to complain. While this one causes the most anxiety for businesses, showing that you can positively turn around a negative experience not only influences the behaviour of those making the complaint, but also those reading it.


This seems to be the pinnacle of desired customer behaviour. Brand loyal customers will spread their message far and wide. They will do it purely because they believe in your business & message. These people are most likely to be your ideal client.


Some people will leave reviews in the hope of becoming famous. Now this could be with their actual comment going viral, think of the Haribo reviews on Amazon. It can also be people posting pictures of themselves using your product in the hope that they will be seen by your followers. This ties nicely into the ‘Friends’ form of social media, particularly as this type of social proof is most effective when accompanied with a photo.

How can businesses use psychology of reviews in their social media marketing

Psychologists know that people are most likely to remember either the first or last few things they see or hear. This is called the primacy & recency effect. This is why large review driven sites will list the best reviews first. Businesses can benefit by doing the same. You can even keep negative reviews when using this format as psychologists have found that so long as people read positive reviews first, negative reviews will not adversely impact on their buying behaviour.

It is better however to not list any social proof than little social proof. Some suggest a minimum of 10 pieces of social proof. When customers see low levels of social proof they perceive the business as being ‘new’, ‘untrustworthy’, ‘or ‘not being used by others’. This goes against the psychology of Crowd social proof.

Likewise, businesses should be wary of 1 & 5 star reviews. These polar reviews can be seen by customers as either being too good to be true and as review numbers grow they can be perceived as less credible (especially if there aren’t comment accompanying the review). There is a psychology behind reviewers who give polar reviews, in so far that people will tend to exaggerate their views so as to compete for influence & the attention of the business.

In the end businesses need to remember that their reviews will be read and will be used by their customers to reinforce their underlying beliefs about the business. Negative reviews will reinforce negative perceptions and positive reviews reinforce positive perceptions. These perceptions & beliefs drive your customer’s behaviour to purchase from your business.

Using beliefs to build better client relationships

When you share a belief with your client, you have a connection. You have a shared understanding, you understand each other at a certain level. It is this understanding that underpins and can begin your relationship. Perhaps it begins a dialogue. This can continue to take the form of knowing , then to liking & then to trusting each other. It then gives you a basis to influence behaviour. You are moving them along a transaction chain, moving to a sale.

Watch my Scope on the topic & then continue reading for a more in depth discussion.

So you need to outline both yours and your client’s beliefs. This way you know your starting points. This, along with your (incl. client’s) UVP, sets the comparison points to establish lines of communication and connections. You then grow and build upon these lines. You can strengthen these lines and connections by using testimonials and other types of social proof to reinforce why the decision to purchase from you is a great idea. You can detail benefits to reinforce why a particular item is the right choice. You discuss innovations & ask questions to invite them in to a dialogue. You get them to share themselves with your items to show that they are valued. You are not alone in business, your clients are your business partner, for without them – you are bankrupt.

But what if you don’t believe you are aligned or that some critical underlying beliefs are at odds? I will go into what psychologists call ‘dissonance’ at a later date; in the meantime, let me quickly show you how it’s overcome.

For example, it is easier to get someone to do something, have a particular behaviour (make a purchase) if they believe that it was their idea in the first place. Go back and have a look at your client’s beliefs, then from their perspective try to align it with your own. If you can not see direct links, then look at quotes in testimonials, look at business cases; find ways to link their thinking to yours & make it their idea to make the purchase (rather than you pushing your item to them). Show them how their way & their beliefs really don’t differ from your own. Be honest, be authentic, don’t belittle or cajole. Show your clients that their beliefs do matter, that their ‘call really is important’ to you.

How can you build on this in your online presence?
The best place is your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This list shows that you listen to your customers, that you’re interested in their concerns, & that you have solutions to their problems (not just excuses). From there you can build these into blog posts, podcasts, periscopes, YouTube videos – and increase your reach across social media, but more importantly, you help your clients to understand your beliefs structure and grow your relationship.

Don’t be afraid of showing your personal side when responding to customer queries & complaints online. It is the benefit small to medium enterprise has over big business. This personal touch makes it easier to develop long lasting client relationships. Showing customers that you believe in client service by responding to their complaints, show that you believe in the quality of your product, show that you value their feedback, show that you believe that their experience is important. This authenticity and honesty is fast becoming what ‘quality’ was 5-10 years ago. It is what differentiates business & it is becoming more important as clients look for more user experience than pure consumption. (more on this soon)

I understand that showing business beliefs can make business owners feel vulnerable. I also understand that considering, targeting, & using client beliefs is a new and unknown way to market for many established businesses. However, with client product knowledge growing, thanks to the internet, savvy businesses will grow stronger & influential client relationships by focusing on the client & the psychological factors which underlie and drive their behaviour.