Social media is less help to business than you might think

One of the benefits of social media is that you can use peer pressure to help change the minds of your potential customers. You can see this happening all the time, where individuals on Facebook or Twitter, for instance, recommend a product or service having made a purchase. The idea behind this is two-fold. Firstly, it increases awareness using word-of-mouth. But secondly, it also has a psychological effect whereby people are subtly influenced by peer pressure to consider the product or service, even if they have previously dismissed it.

Graphic depicting eletcronic word of mouthThe power of social influence to change minds is well-established. However, new research reveals an interesting twist to social influence: it does not last. The study from China, where the psychological power of social groups is significant, shows that peer pressure only lasts for a maximum of three days. It turns out that our opinion reverts back to our original thinking within 72 hours of apparently having changed our minds.

This is an important finding as it shows that our established thinking is long-lasting. We are not as open to change and social influence as we might think.

For businesses this is a significant finding. It means that you cannot rely on single instances of peer pressure and recommendations. Instead of asking your customers to recommend you once after a purchase they need to be recommending you every three days if their influence is to last.

This research ties in with other studies which show that the power of social media is related to the amount of work you do on it. That implies that if you want your business to benefit from social media and the resulting social influence it can have, then you need to be using it constantly. It is not a “once a week” thing or something you can do when you feel like it. If social networking is to have the influence you want, then you need to be constantly using the power of peer pressure it provides so that the three-day-effect does not happen.

The people you are targeting are going to return to their old ways of thinking about you unless you use peer pressure at least once in every 72 hours.

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