The Science of Social Transmission: How Your Content Can Influence and Build Awareness

According to some scientists, the main purpose of life is not to reproduce and leave a new generation behind – it is actually to be useful. In this sense, being useful is described as sharing an idea and making the world a better place through it.

Ideas have been around probably as long as consciousness is around. A good idea can spread like wildfire, while a bad one will perish as quick as blowing out a matchstick.

In recent years, with the development of the means of mass communication, social transmission gained a new broader definition. It does not only refer to verbal or non-verbal communication, but it goes way beyond that. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we are able to spread ideas faster than ever before.

Think of an article, photo or a video that remained in your memory. What was the reason for that? Chances are, it was either funny, educational or inspiring.

Remember the Ice bucket challenge? The Keke challenge? Remember how many different videos of people taking part in them you saw online? You might’ve even done some of them yourself.

You can argue if an idea is good or bad in your personal opinion, but if it received a lot of attention, then you should put your judgment aside and learn from it. In fact, social transmission can be a great underlying element in your overall content marketing strategy. You just need to understand the science behind it and find a way how to use it to your own advantage.

What Does Psychology Say?

According to psychology, there are three main areas that are involved in social transmission: individual psychology, social influence, and social networks. We will take a look at all of them separately in relation to content marketing.

Individual Psychology

Every human being is a different persona in psychological terms. We all have our own preferences when it comes to food, clothes, music, even career. As a content marketer, you have probably established your buyer persona. However, the fictional concept of the perfect buyer is exactly that – fictional. You are not exploring every person individually, but you are rather placing individuals in groups based on certain traits. In reality, even if you wanted to, you can’t build a psychological profile on each and every one of your customers.

Let’s say you are developing a new cosmetic product that is 100% natural and you are not testing it on animals. Who do you think will be the most interested in it?

Millennials, of course!

Now, millennials are a very versatile target group. However, they are the biggest consumers in today’s society, especially when it comes to organic novelty products. They are exploring and looking for something new, hence why avocado toast became a great thing.

To attract millennial buyers, you need to think what a millennial wants to see in a product. There are several general things that every millennial will be after, and believe us when we say that they care about the box that your product is packed in, if not even the labels.

And the case is not only such with millennials, but with every other person in the world. The buying process starts from within, and to fuel that, you need to tickle their sweet spot.

According to a recent study, music can be an influential buying factor. As stated, if someone is in a Chinese restaurant and traditional music is playing in the background, they are more likely to remember what they were having that day. Classical music, on the other hand, urged people to buy items that will potentially bring them social recognition. However, this is just a general observation.

According to another study, people’s response to background music comes from personal experiences. So if some people went all posh when listening to classical music, others might have a negative response due to a previous bad experience they had while classical music was playing in the background.

Whatever the case is, when delivering a product, you need to think in a holistic way. Product quality, package, branding, marketing, obviously even background music. If people remember your product, the stage is set for the idea to spread onwards.

Social Influence

This is not unexplored territory for content marketers since we all know very well that in order to raise brand awareness you need to have a good word spreading around.

Social influence today is bigger than it has ever been. We are all striving to look like someone we saw on Instagram or be influential as someone on Twitter. Take Elon Musk as an example. PayPal was around for a long time, but nobody even though of asking the question who created it in first place. After the social media revolution, Elon Musk built a great social image of himself and became very active on social media. The success of Tesla Cars is partially thanks to Musk’s status as an influencer on social channels.

But social influence doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be in the spotlight. It might as well be your product. Delivering a good product and pairing that up with a good and creative marketing campaign can be very rewarding for increasing brand awareness and building an army of loyal customers.

Let’s go back to our millennials. Millennials follow influencers. You have a product that millennials will love. Can you see where we are headed?

Do your research on social media influencers. Reach out to them and offer to send them a sample of your product for them to test it and review it. A lot of brands are doing that, and it is bringing them massive social exposure. Which brings us to our final point…

Social Networks

So now you have teamed up with several influencers who are looking to review your product and give their honest opinion in the form of a review article or a video. The seed is now planted. Now you need to take care of it in order to have a fruitful harvest.

Your potential customers are on different social media networks. You need to be there as well. An influencer does a review for you and tells people how to get the product. The important thing here is not to forget to direct people to your social media pages.

Now is the best time to do a promotion of your product. Give your potential buyers a discount as a welcome gift, organize a competition and use the existing customers to strengthen your social status and increase brand awareness.

Encouraging social media interactions can be a great factor in increasing your sales. The reason for this is that we don’t really observe content on social media as ads placed to generate sales. We observe it purely as content. If that content is appealing, even if it has the purpose to sell, we are more likely to engage and interact with the brand.

Social transmission should be present in your general content marketing strategy as a basic principle that you build your ideas on. Those ideas, backed up with knowledge of the human psychology and killer execution can get you to where you want to be in the business (and in fact, social) world.