By Adam Fraser.
It’s that human being thing.
We are the same person; but changes in venue, event type or the time of day are very likely to change the way we act and behave. Meet someone new at a conference, and how you interact with them will change massively depending on whether that’s in a conference session, roaming in the expo or at late night drinks in a nightclub.
Yep the meeting bit is the same but the context is critical to how you behave. Context matters.
Ditto consumers when they are on social media. All social platforms are not created equal. Our psychology is significantly different depending on the time of day, and which platform we are on. Again context matters. Thus a “one size fits all” social strategy isn’t going to cut it.
Humans adapt to their environment and community; tribes form; the type of behavior exhibited and expected on each platform becomes a driver as people naturally want to conform to the norms. You don’t walk into a library and scream at the top of your voice (do you?). Dancing on tables would look extremely out of place in most pubs, but hit a backpacker night club at 2am and you’ll likely fit right in.
In a brand context, don’t be that cringe-worthy character that turns up to the coolest nightclub in town sticking out like a sore thumb and blatantly demonstrating that you don’t belong. Understand and respect the environment you are in, and learn how to communicate in that environment.
So what is a consumers mindset and psychology when on the different platforms? Given the sheer numbers involved (and variants in consumer personalities/behaviours), of course then can be no hard and fast rules, but generally:
- Facebook: social; catching up on news from family and friends; a time for baby photos, cat videos and Buzzfeed lists; lighthearted down time
- Twitter: hanging out at the modern day town hall meeting; listening and discussing; news updates; live reports; the current buzz; the social pulse; what is happening NOW; quick fire Q&A on anything and everything
- Instagram: creative; visual; pausing for reflection; thoughtful; reflective; inspiration; how am i feeling; legacy
- Pinterest: dreamy and aspirational; hopeful and ambitious; visualising your life’s wish list – things you want to collect and buy, places you want to go, recipes you would love to make, designs you would love to create; heavy female skew
- YouTube: searching for entertainment or “how to” education to solve a problem (YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine); TV/video content when you want it
- LinkedIn: a purely business frame of mind; professional networking; business content consumption; personal development; leadership inspiration; (and at the relevant time job searching)
- Tumblr: where the cool kids hang out! A whacky and wonderful (and heavily youthfully skewed) creative world
Respecting the psychology of the consumer means adapting your message to be native and appropriate for the environment they are in. This means not only the look and feel of your social content blending in, but also respecting the mindset of the person when they are on a particular platform and tailoring the type of content to fit in with this.
For example, on Facebook consumers are generally there to socialise not shop hence will be turned off by hard sell, pushy, broadcast communications and bored by a hard core business related post; but hooking them in with some useful, entertaining and interesting content may mean you can drive an initial connection point – perhaps an email sign up or a webinar registration.
Promoting on Instagram may be analogous to a full page magazine advert – there is no direct call to action click possibility within Instagram (the only clickable link is in your bio), but you can touch an emotional cord to build brand awareness and open the door to further exploration and interest by the consumer.
Just as nightclubs and retailers come in and out of fashion, so too the social platforms change and evolve over time. Hard and fast rules don’t typically last. The best way to know how to act in a platform is simple – spend time on that platform. Observe how people communicate – both with each other and brands. Who do they connect to? What type of content is being shared and how frequently? There is no substitute for spending time and building relationships on a platform. Influencers with large followings develop an instinctive sense for what will fly within their tribe. Brands need to develop this same sixth sense on social.
The blueprint for how to act on each platform doesn’t exist. There are too many variables. But acknowledging and recognising the differences across the platforms is an important starting point. Spending time within each social network and constantly testing and experimenting is the only way to optimse your performance.