This is the article I was interviewed for by PMI Servizi on 26 November 2012.
If you could explain, in a few words, what Psychology of Online Persuasion is…
The psychology of online persuasion is about using evidence-based principles to design online environments that shape peoples behaviours in a particular way.
When we’re online, we’re constantly being influenced to take certain actions, whether it’s to ‘like’ someone’s page, sign up to a newsletter or buy a product. The psychology of online persuasion aims to structure this process by providing a framework of principles sourced from cutting-edge research from the behavioural sciences.
What is the value of online persuasion in terms of images?
Images are one of the most powerful ways to convey meaning online. Images that are aspirational (lifestyle), relational (sex / friendship) or about survival (food / drink), are particularly persuasive and can be used to elicit strong emotions which we’re then encouraged to act on.
We’re also hard-wired to seek out and identify faces in our surroundings – which is why using photos of faces can be a powerful way of attracting and directing attention online. For instance if you see that someone is looking in a particular direction, or pointing towards something, our natural response is to follow their gaze or finger to see what they’re looking at.
So if you have a page on which you’re trying to get your viewers to read a piece of information, they’re much more likely to read it if you use an image of a person gazing towards that information, showing you where to look at a subconscious level.
Do you think is there a specific Social Network more persuasive than another?
It depends on who you’re targeting.
Different social networks attract different demographics – there was some recent (controversial) research that claimed that Twitter users have a higher average IQ than Facebook users (but what if you use both?), so it may be that if you want to influence the intellectual trend-setters you should take to Twitter.
I’m not sure if you can split things as easily as that however, and Facebook is fantastic for persuading people through social proof alone (such as the number of ‘likes’ a campaign gets). Also the fact that Facebook is designed to showcase a rich range of media – from photos and videos to links and audio – on an actual news-stream, and you’re looking at a platform that has been engineered to persuade users to engage.
How psychology of online persuasion can improve selling?
There are many ways in which the psychology of online persuasion can improve selling. For instance, did you know that a rated product can sell up to 20% more than an identical, but un-rated, product? Or that we’re more likely to buy items displayed in a blue, versus red, environment?
When you’re selling online there are many hidden influences that can nudge people into purchasing one item over another – and while many of these are principles that apply universally, when you’re targeting your customers you must always take their individual and cultural context into account if you are to be really persuasive.
The most important advice that you give in your book?
To succeed online, you have to know you you’re targeting, communicate persuasively, and sell with integrity.