Your website relies on social pressure

Pic-sextingTeenagers simply “have to” get involved in sending “sext” messages – the mobile phone messages that reveal their sexual activity and which also may include nude imagery. A new study shows that if they don’t “sext” they feel left out. In other words, they do it because “everyone” is doing it.

Meanwhile, over at the US Congress, we find politicians in a similar dilemma. Should they Tweet or not? It seems that only when others around them are Tweeting – when they feel encouraged to Tweet as a result – do they actually engage in using Twitter.

In both instances the same thing is happening – social acceptance. We do things to make ourselves socially acceptable to the rest of our peers. If most of them engage in a particular activity we will do the same, just to get ourselves accepted. Whatever you call it – peer pressure, social pressure – it all amounts to the same thing. We are like sheep.

And therein lies a secret for your online business. If you can get a reasonable slice of your visitors to do the same thing, the rest of them will follow. So, you need to show what other people are doing on your website – particularly if you sell products. Amazon already does it with their “people who bought this also bought this”. Then there are the sites which show you what the popular pages are on the site, or what other people are reading or viewing – the BBC does this, for instance.

But whatever approach you take, showing your visitors what other people get up to is likely to encourage more of your visitors to do the same. And if you are selling products, that can only help your bottom line. Social pressure works; we could use it more often online.

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