10 Social Psychology Principles That Help You in Content Marketing

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Psychology is the bedrock of any business.

It signals how you should design, present, modify; and improve your business along the way.

While many people complain that it’s hard to follow so many things at once, I personally embrace it as a great guideline.

Yes; thinking that human psychology isn’t the same as before may seem rational.

But in all honesty, the essence of our human nature never changes. Meaning that the concepts that worked centuries ago are bound to work in this day and age as well.

And you know the best part? Such psychological principles can improve your content marketing game.

Think about it…

Understanding consumer psychology is crucial to maximizing sales. This understanding helps you influence your prospects, thereby lands you more sales and sweet sweet ca$h. Makes sense?

That being said, it gives birth to the question:

Isn’t it a shady approach to manipulate people into buying from you? I mean –people are dropping their hard-earned money, and we’re manipulating to take that money out of them?

The answer? It depends. It really does.

If your business involves no fake promises and lies; and provides immense value to your audience, then influencing people to buy more from you (thereby, getting more value) is not a bad thing.

That said, if your business is immoral from the ground up, then such influences will feed your unethical business, thereby, it IS unethical.

Another thing you can do is think of this as optimization and not manipulation.  You’re shedding light on parts people find valuable, thereby making more of them buy. Sounds good?

Moving on.

Over the course of this piece, we’ll discuss 10 social psychology principles that will power up your content marketing. Let’s get started:

  1. Returning Favors

Imagine an amazing concert coming up with all your favorite rock stars. Although it seems like the best plan for the weekend, a tiny winy problem doesn’t cease to peek out.

Unfortunately, despite a lot of scouring through the Internet & running the errands, you failed to manage a ticket.

Next morning, one of your friends gives you a ticket knowing you were extremely interested. Although he wants nothing from you in return, you still feel the inclination of returning the favor, right? Everybody does.

That’s social psychology right there.

Such an urge of giving back applies to your business as well.

When you offer value to your audience for free, they tend to give back too. Such value can be given through blog posts, eBooks, email courses, and in many more forms.

The point is:

When you offer valuable content to your audience, you build a connection. And when you provide such value on a regular basis, your bond continues to grow stronger and stronger. And this connection is what converts prospects into open-wallet buyers. Makes sense?

Take Neil Patel for example. Neil has been focusing solely on providing value over the years.

Even some time ago, Neil was publishing ginormous guides on Neilpatel.com and Quicksprout.com for serving his audience. While he still does bang out written content, he has shifted his focus more towards YouTube videos because he believes it to be the future.

Apart from providing super authentic value, Neil keeps his video incredibly concise and to-the-point – exactly what people want in online content.

Take a dive in Neil’s YouTube channel and the vast amount of effort he puts in would blow you away:

Here’s something amazing:

Unlike most marketers, Neil doesn’t use Adsense to monetize his channel because he believes it hurts the user experience.

All this goes to show how much Neil cares and is dedicated to better the life of his audience, and not just after the money.

Seeing Neil’s care and dedication, you can rest assured if Neil ever wants to sell a book, course, or even tickets for an event, they will sell out the moment they hit the shelves.

That’s just how sales roll when you give so much.

  1. Social Proof

We humans are social beings. And we are genetically designed to follow the path taken by the majority. This is also known as the ‘me too affect’.

Why do people make such decisions? Because of the conformity behind it.

We tend to believe that the majority of people can’t go wrong. Even if makes no sense, we continue to follow the herd with complete blindness, according to this study. Crazy, eh?

Here’s how you apply this psychology to your business:

Your potential customers are humans too. So when you add social proof to your content, there’s a far better chance of you converting them.

There are many types of social proofs – testimonials, celebrity endorsement, brand endorsement, user reviews, ratings, social media shares, followers, are a few examples.

When you sprinkle such social proof throughout your website, you muscle up your content and brand. Here’s an excellent example of how to use social proof (testimonials to be exact) to convince your audience:


Just like the advertisement above, positive throwaway comments do an excellent job of convincing more people.

The fact that a third person is supporting the fact influences buyer decisions big time.

Amazon reviews are one of the most prominent social proofs. And according to Neil, when your Amazon product reaches 400 – 500 strong reviews, making $70,000 – $150,000 per month in revenue becomes easier.

What does that tell us?

Bombarding your audience with positive social proof is a great way to supercharge your content strategy.

So go do that.

  1. The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

We humans are driven by curiosity. And missing out on important stuff is amongst our biggest of fears.

And this isn’t just a theory or common sense.

According to data:

69% of Millennials are concerned about missing out on beautiful social events – and let’s be honest, who isn’t?

What’s more, you’d see some people obsessed with watching the news.

The reason? Simply because they don’t want to miss out on that golden nugget of insight being thrown at them.

The good news is, you can use this powerful emotion to fuel your business.

How you ask?

Here’s how –

  • By adding a ‘Don’t miss out’ caption before posting your Facebook sale offer
  • By showcasing a ticking clock with a strict time limit
  • By adding the ‘Exclusive’ label on your offering

… you get the drift.

The FOMO (fear of missing out) is a huge marketing concept. If you are interested to learn all the bits and crumbs about it, I encourage you check out this post by Sharon, where she went above and beyond to explain and offer actionable tips on the topic.

  1. Loss Aversion

Imagine a friend challenging you on a coin flip.

If it lands heads, you get $50; if tails, you pay $50. Would you accept the challenge with a wholehearted smile?

Not really. While you might argue that you like taking such challenges, most of the human beings don’t – it’s just our nature.

Of course, there are people who’d take you up on such risks, but let’s not forget that they’re exceptions. We’re talking about people in general.

We just won’t welcome that with a big grin.

Now imagine the same challenge again, this time, the winning prize 2 times more than the losing one. Would that be a good deal?

Yep, we’d be much more comfortable taking that up.

This entails that the risk of losing is far more intense compared to the possibility of gaining. In fact, we are programmed to avoid losses. Be it time, money, or anything else.

Just the thought of ‘loss’ can make your heart beat faster.

So it’s imperative that you craft your content with careful hands.

While it’s crucial that you point out and stress on the benefits of your products/services; it’s also important that you rub chili powder on what may happen if the audience misses out. Simply put – breathe life to your audience’s risk.

That said, addressing these gains and losses requires you to research your audience first. That entails plenty of time and effort required.

So roll up your sleeves and get digging on what makes them smile and what gives them bed-wetting nightmares.

Research is everything if you want to resonate with your audience.

  1. Too Many Choices (Paradox of Choice)

Offering a bag of options is the perfect recipe for raising that question mark above people’s head, which ultimately makes them hit take less actions.

And you know what less actions mean. Less exposure, fewer sales, smaller profit.

Not only that – having a wealth of options also leads to less satisfaction once someone has decided to pick one.

Now – I don’t want you to get me wrong.

Having the freedom to choose is important, especially when you are asking for money in exchange. But if you can help them narrow down their decision, it starts netting you more actions right away, and it also continues in the long run.

Here’s a glimpse of my blog post on boosting conversions where I explained how slicing down on your options can do wonders:

  1. Confirmation Bias

We all have been there –

Rummaging through books, blogs, and any sort of insights to evidence what we stated and believe in – while being completely blind to evidence that says otherwise.

This psychology is called confirmation bias – and it runs so strong that conflicting insight falls on deaf ears, no matter how logical it may be.

Peter Cathcart Wason did some experiments known as Wason’s rule discovery task, where they discovered that people have a strong tendency of seeking information that says ‘yes’ their existing beliefs.

Luckily, you can use this psychology to muscle up your business. How?

Go ahead and create content centering the positive sides of your business your audience already admires.

It’s like hitting the refresh button; you spotlight the value you have offered.

Neil himself leveraged this tactic when he talked about how he spends $30,000 after content & offers it for free (which also turned out a great piece of content).

Further, trying to understand the confirmation bias inside your audience will help you get to know them better, thereby, allowing you to carve out more impactful content.

  1. The Information Gap

As the name suggests, the gap between 2 pieces of information is what we call the information gap. Our brains crave for completion for such loops, and the only way out of this is filling that gap.

Ever had an amazing book or TV show that you couldn’t stop going through? Congrats if you answered yes. You‘ve experienced the information gap.

The best way to create information gaps is by crafting eye-popping titles. Followed by an attention-grabbing opening line.

Another easy way to create such gaps is by asking more questions & slightly expanding on them. The absence of information drives your reader crazy & gets them more invested in your content.

After you’ve given them the itch; flood them with your wealth of information.

This approach gives you amazing conversions when done right.

You can take this (former) landing page of CopyHour as inspiration:

  1. Mere-Exposure Effect, AKA, Familiarity

When multiple options are at your disposal, you vouch for the one that you are familiar with – that’s called mere exposure effect.

Just because you’re more familiar with the thing, you vote for it without even knowing the entire story.

For example:

Don’t you think there are better coffee places than Starbucks out there? Ones that have better drinks and environment?

Of course, there are.


Starbucks has exposed themselves so heavily in the market that now they dominate the coffee world. They’ve become almost synonymous with the word ‘coffee’.

Such awareness and familiarity guide people subconsciously to pick them over other coffees.

A decade ago, such mere-exposure would require you to advertise on TV and radio channels, which means you had to spend a lot back then for such ad services.

However, things have changed after social media arrived. You don’t need to spend recklessly anymore.

Plus, with minimal investment, you can test out which ads give you the best results, so you can decide which one to focus on for the best branding.

Go ahead and tell people about your business pages. Go aggressive. Produce a ton of quality content. Share/tweet those quality content again and again. Keep providing value. Do ad boosts. And all the hard work will pay off.

All of this will make you more famous (and familiar, of course). And this branding alone will turn your prospects into open-wallet customers.

  1. Scarcity Psychology

Rare things are more valuable, or at least thought to be more valuable in our society. And you can use this ‘rare’ effect on your products as well.

We can such lines on Amazon’s website. This is a mix of scarcity & urgency and does a great job of converting people.

Because let’s face it: nobody wants to stare at the ‘Out of stock’ board until the next supply arrives.

And that’s when they bite the bait.

  1. The Decoy Effect

Imagine you’re at the movies:

The small popcorn is $5, the medium $10.50, and the large $11.

Which one would you go for?

If you’re like the majority out there, you’d fall for the large pack ($11). Only 50 cents more makes the large one irresistible.

The medium one ($10.50) is serving as a decoy to justify the price, thereby, selling more of the large package.

Apply this method when you price your offerings and your sales are guaranteed to shoot up.

Wrapping It Up

There you are. 10 social psychology for muscling up your content marketing strategy.

Now it’s your turn.

Which one do you think is the most important and why?

Do you follow any of these principles when crafting your content/copy?

Let me know in the comments below!

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