The Most Powerful Weapon In Your Social Media Arsenal - By: John Denvert

By Dr. Robert B. Cialdini

Let's examine the revolutionary shift in the decision making process of your prospects, buyers, and customers.

Every day I walk past a row of dorms as I leave my office walking to my car. What I have noticed in the recent past is that people are walking, alone, together, in small groups, or large groups just as they have before.

What is remarkably different, however, is that they are bumping into each other, or nearly walking out in front of my car so that I have to dodge them to avoid hitting and harming them.

Why are they so distracted? Because, everywhere, whether they are alone, in groups, and even when they are talking together in groups ALL of them are on the phone with somebody else! They are texting, Tweeting, updating their Facebook status, and in general keeping in constant contact electronically with a group of trusted individuals who constitute their personal social network.

The biggest paradigm shift of the 21st Century is that the "Electronic Age" or the decade of the "connected consumer" has made consensus the key. If you only understand one thing about social media understand this: Consensus is the cornerstone of your social media strategy.

Here are my "Six Weapons of Influence" and how they apply to your social media battle plan.

The "Six Weapons of Influence" or the "six fundamental psychological principles" behind the art and science of getting your visitors and customers to say "Yes" are still the key to your success in social media and Internet marketing.

More importantly, there's a fundamental shift in the psychology of the "connected consumer" that now allows us to more easily send people down a psychological path that has our products and services at the end.

Here are the six weapons:

Weapon of Influence Number 1 - Reciprocation

The first psychological principle to understand as you develop you social media marketing strategy is "Reciprocation." This universal law states that when we give without the promise of gain in return, that essentially we put the other party in debt to us because the more that we give to people the more that they want to give back to us in various positive ways.

When we understand the power of attraction that "Reciprocation" possesses, then we are able to create a massive desire in other people to buy from us, refer peers to us, to Like us on Facebook or to take even more dramatic actions as a result of the value that we have given to them first and freely.

Information is the number one "gift" that we may give our audience. I believe in going totally overboard in this area. My readers want answers, solutions, and to ease their pain. Therefore I believe in giving them the best answers, solutions, and cures for their business ills right up front.

By giving my best up front freely, then people will seek out my advice, my services, my books, and the other things that make me money.

Weapon of Influence Number 2 - Scarcity

Everybody wants what they cannot have. People try to seize those opportunities that you offer them that are rare or scarce and especially that are dwindling in supply and availability.

The key to applying "scarcity" it to create the understanding that you can only get this from us, and there is only a limited supply. This creates the emotion that causes, almost forces them to take action so that they will not lose access to that which they desire.

Weapon of Influence Number 3 - Authority

The weapon of "authority" once trumped all else. If an expert (based on his/her status, title, credentials, experience, background, etc.) said it was good and that you should do it then that was all of the proof we needed.

According to this weapon, people will be most persuaded by you when they see you as having knowledge and credibility. When this dynamic held true, it was essential to honestly share with your audience your credentials, experience, and background.

But this weapon has changed dramatically with the rise of the "Connected Consumer" and the advent of social media and smart phones (we'll address this in more depth later in the article).

A sense of authority is still vital to get your customer to say "Yes, " but authority alone will no longer win the battle for you. Gone is the day when simply saying something like "9 out of 10 doctors recommend Bayer aspirin" will cause your customer to buy Bayer aspirin.

Weapon of Influence Number 4 - Commitment and Consistency

According to this weapon, people will feel a need to comply with your request if they see that it is consistent with what they have stated publicly. Consequently, you can greatly leverage the power of this "Weapon of Influence, " especially online by asking your customer to participate in public surveys, questionnaires, and contests openly online in forums, comments, and testimonials that display their true priorities, emotional commitments, and needs to the community.

Once the subscriber or prospect has publicly stated their desires, beliefs, or intentions, then they are virtually compelled to align themselves with any request, proposal, or offer with or for what they have already told you they value publicly because they will feel a need to comply in a manner consistent with what they have already stated.

Weapon of Influence Number 5 - Liking

People prefer to say "Yes" to someone they like. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg understands this principle and applies it to leverage and grow his community on Facebook. Simply stated, "Liking" as a "Weapon of Influence" states that if someone "Likes" you, then they are more likely to do business with you.

You can exploit the "Liking" principle in your social media marketing strategies by giving people more ways and reasons to like you. One simple strategy to create more Liking is to be transparent and detailed when you fill out profiles for social media web sites.

You can also leverage Liking even more by including more personal information on your "About Us" tab on your web sites and other places that people look to find out more about you before they decide to do business with you.

An example of this would be, instead of just listing the boring facts on your web site, list details that really let people get to feel that they know you, such as your hometown, where you went to school, the fact that you have two dogs and an infant child, etc. List your likes, dislikes, hobbies and interests.

In short, the more things you share about who you really are, the more reasons someone has to "Like" you and to do business with you!

Weapon of Influence Number 6 - Consensus

Simply saying that something is your most popular item can raise your sales of it by anywhere form 13 percent to 1,000 percent. This is not mere sales hype; these are facts that have emerged from my in-depth research.

In one experiment, I asked restaurant owners to add the words "These are our most popular menu items" to their menu. Immediately after these items were labeled as such, their sales rocketed up by 13-20 percent without any other changes.

In another case study, I observed that when Apple's iTunes listed an audio as "One of the Top 10 Downloads" in its category, then downloads of that item instantly increased by 1000 percent.

These are truly remarkable results. You should follow this strategy to increase the open rates on your e-mails and the conversions that result from the offers in your e-mails. Simply apply this knowledge and use subjects that include phrases like "these are our 3 most popular tools, " or "here are the top 10 reasons why you must do business with us."

The reason these subject lines and headlines work so well is because it leverages scarcity and fear of loss. The customer's greatest fear is loss, because loss is the ultimate form of scarcity, because it means that you cannot get it anymore at any price."

There's a New Expert in Town

There is a new expert in town, and he is much more powerful and much more influential than the old "authority." He gains his authority and trust because he is just like us-in fact, he/she is us.

Instead of trusting people with degrees and credentials the public now wants to know, like, trust, and choose to do business with people who are "just like them." The Internet makes this more possible than ever.

Now we want to know what our peers are saying, doing and buying. The number one travel site now is and they do not even accept professional travel writers. The members of the community share what people just like you have been doing on their vacation.

Potential buyers are now able to instantly access the responses of friends and peer groups like never before. They rely on this access to tell them what standards, attitudes, and what steps they should take.

To accelerate the optimum moment to make your request, you must prepare by recognizing the psychology in your customers' minds. You need to disseminate information about your trustworthiness and professional credibility that will lead them down the path to "Yes."

About the Author

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini is Regents' Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.

Cialdini is best known for his 1984 book on persuasion and marketing, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Influence has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into twenty-six languages. It has been listed on the New York Times Business Best Seller List. Fortune magazine lists Influence in their "75 Smartest Business Books."

In writing the book, he spent three years going "undercover" applying for jobs and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion. The book also reviews many of the most important theories and experiments in social psychology.

Harvard Business Review lists Dr. Cialdini's research in "Breakthrough Ideas for Today's Business Agenda".

Information is the number one "gift" that we may give our audience. I believe in going totally overboard in this area.

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