Does the need for Human Approval Drive Social Media Strategies?

It’s no secret that in today’s digital landscape, our need for acceptance is magnified. When we check in at a high end hotel, post a picture when we’re on vacation or state where or when we will be travelling, a need to be accepted by our peers is deeply rooted in the intention behind the post. This behaviour is not new because before the rise of social media, we sought acceptance from our peers in non-digital situations. For example, wearing a suit to a job interview to appear more professional or displaying proper dinner etiquette to fit in at an upscale restaurant. These behaviors are all fueled by a need for acceptance. Therefore, it is no surprise when platforms that place a spotlight on our personal lives are presented, we immediately make decisions to seek approval for our exterior self.

As social media content producers and managers, we capitalize on this unique,  human trait. By aligning brands with the customer’s need to increase a sense of self worth, we can create a different sense of value for our brands and clients. This is because when we post images, statuses and videos of our lifestyle to appear happier, wealthier or more successful, the feeling of acceptance comes from all the likes, comments and shares we receive. If few or no comments, likes or shares are gained, we feel defeated; if the posts match or exceed our expectations, we feel accomplished. While it is obvious that this behaviour is superficial, it is not our job as marketers to change how society acts and thinks. It is our job to leverage how society acts and thinks for the benefit of our clients.

As we look for new ways for our clients to go viral or increase organic engagement, we use this knowledge to aid in our content production and the way in which we create social media strategies. The strategy of acceptance and approval proves to be successful in two contexts:

Social Media Influencers:

They are the bridge between your customer and your brand. Social media influencers are usually individuals that your customers trust, identify with and admire. Therefore, what they use or what they participate in creates an ideal environment for your customer to emulate and feel accepted into.

Customer Reviews:

How important are customer reviews? The average customer in 2017, before making a purchase, goes straight to customer reviews. These can either make or prevent a sale and will usually pave the way for future brand success and building brand equity. Therefore, this behaviour of asking for product reviews or providing product reviews is also based in seeking the approval by one’s peers.

However, in the world of social media, shares become more important than the individual sale. While the ultimate goal is always to translate advertising dollars into sales dollars, shares hold equal value in the long run. This is because it is important to build brand value over time to increase brand loyalty. When someone shares a post or product, it means they identify and enjoy it enough to share it on a personal level with their friends and family. This endorsement is as good as a sale in the sense that this individual, while they may not make an immediate purchase, is showing loyalty and would more than likely make a purchase in the future ensuring the longevity of the brand and its sales.

Psychologist Michael Formica explains:

“We have an inside and an outside—an interior landscape and an exterior landscape. Our interior landscape is our subjective experience of our authentic self, while our exterior landscape is a product of our worldview. The two together create a psychosocial dynamic, but that dynamic has only one reference point, leaving us balancing self- and other-perception.”

With the invention and advancement of social media, we have sought this balance. There are many arguments as to why this balance shouldn’t exist but in the end, social media is where the majority of people go to find this particular kind of acceptance.

As Toucan continues to push the boundaries for our clients, we continue to seek ethical ways to leverage human interactions and behaviors to elevate our client’s brand engagement and strategies.