The Psychology Of Social Media Success

Note: This is not one of those how to be an overnight social media success stories. If that’s what you are looking for, I’ll spare you a few minutes and tell you to move on and best of luck to you, as there is no such thing as an overnight social media success.

Now to get to the point, I’ve always been interested in psychology, and specifically human behavior and what motivates people to join groups and take action. In a lot of ways, this can be extremely valuable when it comes time to evaluate social media strategies and plan of action.

As a community or social media manager, you’re in charge of growing your respected communities- which could be both online and/or offline. With that, you’re probably (hopefully) doing a lot of listening behind the scenes. Understanding some basic psychological and human behavioral tendencies can go along way when growing and engaging with your community.

Think like your audience

I think so many shortcomings and missteps online could be avoided if all the stakeholders involved take a step back and think like their audience. We have the ability to learn more about our audience as well as our potential clients/customers than ever before. We know generally what they respond well too and what makes them tick.

The Similarity Principle.

Ever heard the expression, “Opposites attract.” That can be kind of misleading. In reality, people are drawn to people who are like them and have similar interests. This seems so simple and obvious, but its helpful to remember when doing community outreach. Likes make more likes.

 No Overnight Success Stories

There’s no such thing as an overnight social media success. Building an online community takes time. It takes time to build up trust with your audience. And, it takes time for your audience to fill comfortable to speak up.

So many times, we “try to force engagement.” We promote sweepstakes, contests and giveaways like crazy. We’re often excited by the initial outpouring and response. Then completely frustrated when all the initial buzz dries up and we are left with the same low engagement rates as before the promotion began.

 Perceived value matters.

Lastly, your community members want to be valued. Simply listening and acknowledging that you are present can go a long way. That creates a connection and a reason to stay active in the community.


JacksonStanley 1 Like

Awesome post! I love your take on the "no overnight success stories." I intern for a debate tournament at my university and find it frustrating at the lack of interest on the Facebook page and often try to "force engagement." I will definitely be rereading this post in the future.

John_Trader1 2 Like

Good post Jessica. Whenever I hear the words "social media" and "psychology" it makes me cringe that I didn't pay attention more in my undergrad psych classes! There truly is a lot to learn from studying this field and applying the practicality of psychology to social media strategy.

jessicamalnik moderator 1 Like

 @John_Trader1 I never realized just how important psychology truly is until I got into the community management space. Being able to understand human behavior and what triggers people to take action on something is one of the most underrated "soft skills." 


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