Wade Harman
January 27, 2016

The Psychology Behind Making Money on Social Media

There is a new strategy that baffles some people in social media.

It isn’t cheating either, psychology is something that has been around as long as we have been smart enough to acknowledge that its there.

You use psychology every day too.  You may not realize it, but it’s there, hiding in the shadows of your subconscious, waiting to be revealed through some past experience or relationship.

I wanted to write something that would resonate with every business owner that is active on social media, and that is the topic of making money through the use of social.

While money is something that is rarely talked about, it is one of the main psychological factors that drives us, motivates us, and makes us do the best we can for our brand.  When we do we are rewarded, and, just like Pavlov’s dog, when someone clicks the Buy Now button, we are motivated, through triggers, to capitalize on that response even more.

The Crooked Path To Making Money

There is no straight and easy way to making money online.

Most people use a platform to create opportunities for their business in order to make the money, however, there is still not a direct way to the money.

This is due to the other side of the pocket book.  You know, the person that you’re targeting.  This person needs more than to simply find your site out of the blue, facepalm, because this was the product they have always been looking for, and then purchase.

It doesn’t happen that way anymore.

Back in the day, one could create that straight path to the money by manipulating the search engines through article marketing and link building.  This created an opportunity for the site owner to bypass a critical element in the sales process and use what is called Right Now Marketing, where you could appeal to the wants of a consumer by feeding off of their conscious desire.

Usually when this happens, the person is looking to find something to fill a legitimate need in their life.  When you can be one of the top results in those searches, you didn’t have to worry about anything but building links to make money.

In today’s search world, it doesn’t happen quite that way anymore.  There is a more human side that is needed with marketing your products online these days.

Now, there is no direct way to make money online.

But all is not lost.

There is an indirect path that is making money every day for most social media personalities and these are the psychological implications that I want to talk to you about today.

The Indirect Path To Making Money

Psychology plays an important role in driving traffic from social media.

Before this will work, you have to have some things in your corner that resonate what your business is about.

Remember the person with the pocket book that you are trying to target?

You still want that person to open their wallet and click the buy button, and it is still possible for them to do that on your site, but there is a more indirect approach to get them to do this.

You have to remember these things:

#1: Being Human

More and more brands that are becoming successful on social media are the brands that focus on the conversation and engagement with the potential buyer.

That said, the brands that put a human face to their brand are the one’s that are doing the best on social media.  As I was researching this article, I noticed something very important, but I almost missed it at first.

A commercial came on the television and before I knew it, I had completely stopped writing and was fully engrossed in what it had to say.

It was Flo the Progressive Insurance girl doing her bit on the TV.

I quickly scrambled to check the differences between her and her employer on social media.  The Progressive Insurance organization page on Facebook has 343k likes:

social media psychology and making money

While “Flo the Progressive Girl” Facebook page has an astounding 5 million likes!

psychology of making money on social media

When you can put a face to your brand, more people will be inclined to have conversation with you, engage with you, and remember who you are after the fact.

Scientific research has revealed that the psychological triggers involved with including a human face to your brand makes the experience more memorable and trustworthy for the customer.

The reason for this is the emotional side of the psyche.

We seek out people to give us answers that we are looking for rather than heading to a smart relative or someone we’ve known for a long time.

In fact, studies have shown that people that are knowledgeable about a certain topic will be more able to trust someone that is speaking to that same idea because they have already did their homework about it. When the facts line up with what they already know, and there’s a face accompanying that truth then it becomes a no-brainer.

Flo knows insurance.

People who need insurance have already done their homework…at least some of them do, I know I do when I need it.  When you hear language that you have been reading their forms a common bond between the buyer and seller.

We seek out relevance in this internet world and the brand that shows their face to the public is already three steps ahead of the rest of us because it plays to our emotional psychology.

Side note: I just wanted to point this out.  When you think of Moz what face comes to mind?  See what I mean?

#2: Building Trust

the psychology of making money on social mediaIt’s more than just building links now.

The successful social media entrepreneur will be actively engaging with their followers and potential customers and target base on their respective platforms.

While you may not make a sale right off, what you are looking for is the results from playing the long game on social.

One of the tools to build trust with is consistency.

When you are consistently engaging, answering questions and helping people, when you are consistently bringing helpful information in their stream, people will start to get acquainted with seeing you in their stream.

This is an idea from the Cognitive Consistency Theory where we realize that when people continue to see us, talk to us, and get help from us, there will be a certain form of trust that will be created.

When you understand this, you will start to realize that people expect a certain king of consistency from our brand on social media.

When people trust you, they will buy from you.

Trust takes time to form and it is through consistency of a lot of factors where you will get it to happen.

The Psychology of Trust

According to the psychological foundations of trust by the University of Minnesota, trust lies at the very core of interpersonal relationships that are made.

Whether you’re doing it online or off, trust is the main ingredient for a successful relationship.

There are three main layers to which people gauge their trust of you and your brand:

  1. The degree of trust: This is where people will hold you at arms length, but yet will still listen to what you have to say.  You have the opportunity to create a lasting relationship built on trust here, don’t blow it.
  2. Trust diagnostics: Where the follower/customer engages more actively and you can see the growth of trust evolve.
  3. Attachment orientation: They fully trust you, and while you may not have a personal relationship with this person, they feel attached to you on a personal level and will follow you to the end’s of the earth.

Many people will be graduating and evolving with these relationships in trust all the time on social media and one of the ways that I have found that is best to measure this is to stay true to who you are.

Always be the same person because that person that they came to know and trust five months ago, if you change who you are, you create a ripple in the effect of trust and therefore may have to start over.  That is why consistency is so important in building trust.  Why authenticity is important in growing trust, and why trust is such an important part of the relationship process.

#3: Building Relationships

If trust is at the core of building relationships, and you now have trust, let’s talk about bringing the customer into the realm of what I mentioned above with the attachment process.

The attachment theory is one that overrides the Dunbar number, which states that a certain individual can only have so many stable relationships at one time.

While it would be nice to create fulfilling relationships with each and every person in your target market, it’s just not possible.

That said, hope is not lost because you can still build the relationship on their side of the fence.

While the above Attachment theory is talking about young children, there is a theory that I am working on that hopes to prove this in marketing.

Again, this is my own theory, I have no written proof that this works, but I wanted to explain what I am thinking.

Example:  A guy with 10 million social followers isn’t going to remember the names of each person.  I watched someone like this at the Social Media Marketing World conference earlier this year, people would come up to this person and start talking to him like he was a long lost friend.

He was very cordial, friendly, and professional as he greeted each individual.

But there is no way he could remember each and every one of those people.  However, they knew him.  They were attached to him on a different level than he was to them, bringing out a form of trust and relationship that had been formed on their end, however, it hadn’t been psychologically formed on his end.

This person, and you probably know him, is active on social media, he is helpful and knowledgeable.  People seek his expertise and he obliges.  He is consistent, and, in my opinion, he is the perfect example of the Attachment Theory in marketing because while he doesn’t know all of them personally, they know and love him.

If You Build It, They Will Come

I’m not here to hurt your head with theory and studies, but I do want you to understand the importance and power that each of these points will have on you making money on social media.

I can’t show you a direct path to success.  I can’t promise you loads of income if you build links.  But I can promise that if you stay consistent, stay helpful, and stay who you are that people will be drawn to you and your brand on social.

Money will come, but that’s later.  Take the time to get to know your target and what they need and then build a respected and informational platform around that target.


Wade HarmanWade Harman

Events Manager at Social Media Examiner
My main social media marketing strategy with my blog is to build on a larger fan base by connecting individually with each person. This creates a more targeted clientele base and eventually leads to more sales. Building a site that has integrity is what I’m all about in my social media marketing strategies. This is also known widely as relationship marketing, of which I practice every day with my social strategy.

This article was originally titled “The Psychology of Making Money on Social Media” and was published on wadeharman.com and is republished here with permission.

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