Why do people say ‘yes’?
In Influence, the classic book on persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini identifies six universal principles of persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, authority, commitment/consistency, liking and consensus.
I first heard of Influence last year from Derek Halpern in this episode of Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing podcast. With such a strong recommendation I immediately purchased and devoured the book. More recently, I came across the below video (via Bocar Dia) which provides an excellent introduction to the science of persuasion for those unfamiliar with Dr. Cialdini’s work:
So, how can these understandings about persuasion be applied?
One business that is doing a particularly good job is HootSuite, the Vancouver-based company which makes the market-leading social media management system and has more than 6 million users. Let’s have a look at what they’re doing:
This principle states that people are more likely to say ‘yes’ to people they owe. For example, if a friend invites you to their party there is an obligation to invite them to a future party you are hosting.
Hootsuite applies this principle by publishing White Papers and HootGuides for businesses and organizations on topics such as Lead Generation, Customer Retention, Brand Awareness, Compliance, Security and Mobile. These documents are available for free and instant download when you submit your contact details. If you feel HootSuite has provided you with value, it’s likely you will feel an impulse to return the favor by choosing it over other social media management systems.
This principle states that things are more attractive when their availability is limited, or when we stand to lose the opportunity to acquire them on favorable terms. For example, you might buy something immediately if you’re told it’s the last one.
HootSuite applies this principle by offering discounts such as this 50% discount on Enhanced Analytics:
This principle states that we believe we will be better off if we follow the lead of credible experts, because they have greater knowledge and expertise in a certain domain than we do.
HootSuite applies this principle by (rightfully) promoting CEO Ryan Holmes as an authority on social media. He is a LinkedIn Influencer and contributes articles to popular websites such as Inc.com and Fast Company. When something big happens in social media – e.g. Burger King’s Twitter account being hacked – the New York Times wants to know what Ryan has to say. Is it any wonder the sales phones lines at Hootsuite also light up?
4. Commitment & Consistency
This principle states that we have a deep desire to be consistent. For this reason, once we’ve committed to something, we’re then more inclined to go through with it.
HootSuite applies this principle by having a freemium business model. Signing up for the basic plan requires only a small commitment because it is free. Once someone is a HootSuite user the product markets itself because the premium benefits become apparent and can be tried risk-free via a 30 day free trial.
This principle states that that we’re more likely to be influenced by people we like. Likability comes in many forms – people might be similar or familiar to us, they might give us compliments, or we may just simply trust them.
(Is that Connor Meaks on the roof?)
And if you need further proof that the HootSuite owls know how to have fun, check out this Harlem Shake video:
6. Consensus (Social Proof)
This principle states that people will do things that they see other people are doing.
HootSuite applies this principle by promoting the fact that many of the world’s leading businesses and organizations use the software:
So, there you have it. The HootSuite owls are pretty persuasive, agree?
What other businesses and organizations do you see that are doing a particularly good job of applying the principles of persuasion? Let me know in the comments below.