Social Validation on Social Media

Undeniably, the people around us influence our behaviour, and the same holds true on social media.

In a recent article on PR Daily about the persuasive power of ‘likes’, that cites a recent study conducted by the New York Times, it is revealed that an initial ‘like’ will increase the chances of a subsequent ‘like’ by as much as 32 percent.

That’s significant.

This study reaffirms what many of us intuitively know; that people tend to be followers in some capacity.

And there is power in this.

Before we get into how you can tap this knowledge for the benefit of your business’ social media and content marketing, I want to point out that the same statistic didn’t hold up in this study when it came to down votes, or negative comments. People didn’t seem to demonstrate the same level of being influenced by negativity as they did positivity. That’s great to know.

Following are a few thoughts about how marketers, advertisers, business owners, and brand managers might be able to benefit from this information:

Seed your content

In a recent article I discussed the importance of promoting and seeding your content, and this study supports just how important that can be. If you can get the eyes of brand influencers and loyalists on your content early, you are much more likely to receive an initial wave of positivity. When other consumers discover your content, already with indication of it being ‘liked’, shared or positively commented on, they will be significantly more likely to follow suit, creating even greater momentum.

Ask loyalists, evangelists, and ambassadors for their help

While I don’t necessarily recommend blasting your entire audience with a plea to ‘like’ every piece of content you publish – it can come across as being a bit desperate – you may want to consider asking your loyalists, evangelists, and ambassadors to give your content a little ‘like’-love to give it a fighting chance of gaining greater traction.

Nurture and invest in positivity

It can be difficult for businesses and brands to see the value in nurturing a small list of influencers or loyalists, but their small bit of positivity can create a huge sense of social validation that can build momentum for not only your social media content, but your business, products, services, brand image, and more. Achieving high levels of engagement can be supremely valuable, and if your influencers and loyalists can help to boost your engagement rates, then you should really be investing to cultivate them.

Don’t let a negative minority get to you

It’s easy to let the odd bit of negative sentiment on social media get under your skin. And who can blame you? This is your business or brand that jerk (I restrained myself) is talking about! But don’t sweat it. You certainly don’t want negativity to get out of hand, or to ignore it, but just because you receive the odd down vote, negative comment, or less than stellar review, doesn’t mean that your entire audience is all of a sudden going to jump ship. Chances are that they’ll see the negativity for what it is, and retain their positive perception of your business or brand.


What strategies do you employ to create a sense of social validation?

Are you more or less likely to ‘like’, read, click or comment on something when others have first?

What effect does social validation have on you as a consumer?

It would be awesome to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial

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