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Jul 23

Can you Trick People Into Improving Their Lives?

By bonusadm

 

Whether personal or professional, change is hard. And the cumulative data is not on our side. Take something obviously detrimental, like smoking. A mere 4% to 7% of people successfully quit without the aid of medication or outside help.

Even experiencing a traumatic event like the death of a loved one or being diagnosed with cancer only leads to a 20% success rate. Not to be a killjoy, but as the Washington Post found, roughly 25% of New Year resolutions fall apart within the first two weeks. And even when it comes to our work where moneys on the line 70% of [management-led] transformation efforts fail. So why is change such a struggle?

Dan Ariely, best-selling author of Predictably Irrational and professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, explains it like this: Usually when people approach solving problems, they think, Lets just give people some information and then theyll make the right decision, he said. As natural as this educational approach feels, it doesnt work. For example, posting caloric facts on the side of a Snickers bar does little to deter us when its 10 pm and the craving hits. Equally fruitless are traditional applications of so-called willpower.

Change, in Arielys words, comes not from the inside, but the outside. If you want people to lose weight, give them a smaller plate. You have to change the environment. Today, our dominant environment is digital, which is why Arielys foundation The Center for Advanced Hindsight teamed up with Chris Ferguson, CEO of the Ontario-based design firm Bridgeable, and convened a three-day workshop last October with thirty different financial institutions from all parts of North America.

Their goal was to explore how technology could play a role in transforming borrowers into savers (i.e., positive social and personal change). However, dont let the financial scope fool you. People are people and changing your own habits as well as designing apps and workflows for the good demand understanding how humans make decisions. So before digging into Ariely and Fergusons answer the one theyre banking on lets take a look at six psychological triggers that give us a fighting chance in the war on change.

Human decision making: 6 triggers for change

In his modern-day classic Influence, Robert B. Cialdini describes two models of human decision making. The first he calls controlled responding, a thorough analysis of all of the information. The second is known as “judgmental heuristics,” essentially “mental shortcuts,” also known as cognitive biases or “triggers” that allow for “simplified thinking.” As much as we like to envision ourselves as controlled responders, human beings are far more prone to the second mode. In fact, prone is probably too light a word.

The reality is, mental shortcuts run our lives: From the routes we drive, to the foods we eat, right down to the jobs and mates we choose. Cialdini wasnt the first to notice this. Moneyball author Michael Lewis recent book, The Undoing Project, chronicles the multi-decade shift in both economics and psychology away from the thesis that humans are essentially rational creatures in cognitive control of their decisions.

In its place, a new understanding of decision making has emerged, one in which heuristics, hardwired mechanisms, and triggers stand out. For Ariely and Ferguson, six of these triggers bear special attention. Default bias In 2003, Eric J. Johnson and Daniel G. Goldstein discovered that the organ donation rate in two European countries Hungary and Denmark differed wildly. The first boasted 99.997% and the second, 4.25%. What explained this night and day difference? Turns out, a box. Or rather, the language surrounding one box in particular.

In Hungary, organ donation was the DMVs default option; its citizens had to opt out if they didn’t want to participate. In Denmark, it was the opposite. In other words, the easiest option is the automatic option and therefore whatever is framed as default usually wins. Friction costs People are easily deterred from taking action. We prefer the path of least resistance. And, of course, inertia doing nothing is always the easiest thing to do. Friction costs refer to any obstacles or perceived speed bumps that complicate an action. Reducing friction costs has become a cornerstone of ecommerce giants like Amazon who’ve built empires around saving your payment and shipping information so that purchasing is as easy as one click. But this also holds true interpersonally.

One of the driving reasons people stay in unfulfilling relationships is that the cost of extricating themselves appears to outweigh the cost of one-off disturbances, despite the fact those one-off disturbances add up over time. Anchoring At the risk of stating the obvious, first impressions matter and not just in our personal lives. When making decisions, people automatically elevate whatever information they encounter first, and anchoring means that this first impression isn’t just more powerful than subsequent evidence, it also becomes the organizing principle (or, frame) thereafter.

For instance, if the first test in a job interview reveals an applicants strengths, then evaluators unthinkingly rate the applicant’s subsequent tests higher, even when they have little or nothing to do with the first. Humans latch onto first impressions, and letting go of them is harder than you think. Pre-commitment Consistency acting in accordance with our previous decisions and actions is a potent mental force. This is due partly to the fact that change is difficult (see Friction Costs).

But it also stems from our desire to protect our egos as well as to simplify decision making. In the 1960s, when two psychologists asked California homeowners to erect a public-service billboard on their front lawns reading, Drive Carefully, they were met with an average rejection rate of 83%. One subset, however, turned the tables on that average and complied to the request at 76%. Why? Because un-benounced to the two psychologists, one week earlier a separate organization had asked residents to place an unobtrusive Be a Safe Driver sign in their window. Securing small, voluntary commitments is a cornerstone of any large and lasting change.

Present bias Humans are myopic creatures. We live in the moment. Its not that we dont worry about the future or dwell on the past; fear and loss are the two most powerful human emotions. Its more that were terrible at projecting our current reality into whats going to happen next, especially when that next is five, ten, or even twenty years in the future. Hyperbolic discounting turning a future positive into a present negative is one way of dragging those inevitabilities into the here and now.

Social proof No man is an island, wrote John Donne. He was right. When it comes to making decisions especially decisions surrounded by high levels of mystery or insecurity we look to see what other people are doing. The principle of social proof is why Yale University discovered that if you want people to reduce the amount of bottled water they consume, presenting facts about negative environmental impacts works best only when preceded by social proof that others have already started to behave pro-environmentally. Each the above triggers, often called cognitive biases, work their way from outside in. They’re extensions of Arielys basic contention that our best shot at change comes from our environment. But can an app truly change human behavior?

Rigging the mind with an app

Naturally, the answer is yes. As proof we need look no further than the plethora of examples Nir Eyal presented in Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. From social media platforms to free games like Candy Crush and Farmville, apps have the power to shape (and even reshape) our lives. In Eyals words: To build a habit-forming product, makers need to understand which user emotions may be tied to internal triggers and know how to leverage external triggers to drive the user to action.

The real question is: Can an app change human behavior for the good? After all, its one thing to hook someone with an app that delivers endorphins the way gambling or junk food does (neither of which Eyal argues for). Its another thing altogether to hook someone with an app aimed at changes we wat but struggle desperately to implement. To answer that question, heres a sneak peek at Ariely and Fergusons current prototype and how theyre using the principles mentioned above. Just remember: Each of these triggers are hardwired into the human mind. That means your own changes personal, professional, and technological should lean on them too.

 

Making good change easier Its true: as humans, were terrible at change. But that doesn’t mean the fight is in vain. Instead, the implications of behavioral economics alongside the broader sciences of human decision making weve touched on should push us in two directions. First, on the personal front, change works from the outside in. If you want to lose weight, buy a smaller plate. We set ourselves up for success or failure not because of internal factors like willpower, motivation, and drive, but because of external factors.

Lasting change isn’t as much about moral fortitude as it is about arranging our environment the world we interact with to either trigger or inhibit our behaviors. Second, on the professional front, products and services, apps and tools must all likewise adhere to the very same lessons. This applies to design and UX as much as it applies to marketing and management. Whatever change you’re trying to create whatever product youre trying to hook your audience begin with how humans actually make decisions:

1. Default Bias: How can you make the opt-in process automatic? What can you pre-populate during on-boarding or roll out

2. Friction Costs: What can you remove? In the words of Nir Eyal, innovation is nothing more than understanding a series of tasks from intention to outcome and then removing steps.

3. Anchoring: What do users, whether customers or employees, see first? How can you leverage that first impression at a meeting, in an email, or within an app to frame the rest of the process.

4. Pre-Commitment: Are you building on small, voluntary commitments? Small yeses early on lead directly to big yeses later, especially as change gets tougher

5. Present Bias: How can you drag future results into present reality? What hell will your change save people from? What heaven will it deliver them unto?

6. Social Proof: Who do your users look to for making their decisions? How can you encourage those influencers, or even just fellow humans, to share their own commitment and actions? Unlocking human change is hard, but its not mysterious. Just be sure you’re using all that power for the good.

 
 Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Fast Company, Business Insider and more. Connect with him about content marketing (and bunnies) on Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Oct 09

5 Pillars of Your Social Media and Content Marketing Strategy

By bonusadm

5 Pillars of Your Social Media and Content Marketing Strategy @DreamGrow 2017

With a glut of social media outlets, does it make sense to limit yourself to just one. And if you want to take advantage of several, how do you link them together in a way that makes sense for your marketing plan.

The 5-pillar approach is to create your own network of sites that feed each other, with each element attracting a slightly different audience and each presenting somewhat different content. That means, of course, that you have to work on the balance part. But no one has ever said that social media needs no work.

The 5 pillars are the following:

  • Your primary site
  • Facebook, of course,
  • A blog
  • Twitter
  • And any number of more specific sites, many unique to a specific industry

Each of these five has a unique role, addresses a specific audience, has a unique objective and can add to your overall marketing approach. Each requires separate content and a separate approach.

The key element of the 5-pillar plan is to tie all five areas together. Each element supports the other four, all with the objective of increasing your bottom line by attracting inbound leads. Each element must create a draw from the target audience it is designed to reach. This approach takes some work, and requires a fair bit of content, but will spread your image across a larger audience that if you simply use one of these social media.

Your Primary Site

Your primary site is designed to sell your product, service or ideas. Your site is where you want to attract people that are potential customers. It can be an e-commerce site, selling an actual product. It can also be a site that simply describes your products, services or ideas and directs the reader to a place where they can make a decision. A Realtor, for example, cannot sell a home from a site, but can certainly describe homes available for sale and let the reader know who to actually visit the place and who to contact to make that next step. It is the site you want an inbound lead to find.

Objective – As with any entity, the objective is a sale. Whether it is a product sold through your site, an idea that an NGO, political organization or non-profit entity wants to promulgate or a funnel to move a prospect to a sale in the real, non-internet, world, the final objective is to make a sale – an affirmation from a potential customer.

Facebook

The quintessential social media is Facebook, and it is hard to imagine any social media strategy that does not have Facebook at its core.

Objectives – Apart from a common use of Facebook, like constantly knowing who is at Starbucks, our objective is to create inbound sales leads and to drive people to your primary site. We need to be quite subtle about that, as most if not all others will resent a bald-faced attempt to sell your products, services or ideas.

There are some issues, and there are these concerns:

  • How do you portray your business interests without turning everybody off?
  • Since Facebook is truly social, is it enough to attract consumers?
  • Is it truly limited to personal acquaintances?
  • How do you effectively link back to your primary site?

Target Audience

The target audience for your personal page is your friends and acquaintances – some would call it your sphere of influence. Your business page would start with that, but would gradually expand to others that have an interest in your product, service or ideas.

Approach

First, it makes sense to have more than one Facebook account. At the very least, have one for your personal life and one for your organization. You will attract a different group of friends to each of the two accounts. One group will be interested in you – the other will be interested in your product or service. If you have a third interest, create a third account.

Keep the majority of your comments completely away from your business or organizational interest. When you do mention a business idea, don’t make it a sales pitch. A Realtor, for example, can occasionally mention a new listing as a public service with the idea that someone reading the comment may know someone else who is interested in that neighborhood. Just don’t make it your only comments or you will antagonize your friends.

Cross Marketing

The reason for the 5-pillar approach is to link your Facebook page to your primary site, blog, Twitter and any other accounts that you have. Let everyone know that you have other sites and that you post different information on each.

The 5-pillar approach is to create your own network of sites that feed each other, with each element attracting a slightly different audience and each presenting somewhat different content.cross marketing

Your Blog

A blog gives you the opportunity to expand on issues that are more complex, and deal in depth with topics that are a part of your business or organization. For example, a Realtor may have a site and a Facebook presence, neither of which is an optimal place to discuss complex issues of the title, loans, home inspections and the like. The Realtor can become a source of knowledge for others outside a sphere of influence and attract readers to the blog that may not be likely to visit the primary site. The blog lets you become the topical expert. It is a subtle way to keep you And your business top of mind for a large number of people, many of whom can be potential customers.

Cross Marketing

Links to your primary site, your Facebook pages, Twitter and any other social media sites must be prominently displayed. Add a short explanation what type of content the visitor can find in each of those sites. This is the KEY reason to create your own network of interconnected sites.

Make use of RSS feeds to ensure that elements of your blog appear as many places as possible. Let the world know that you know what you are talking about.

Always keep in mind that you are promoting your own mini-network of sites. Use a bitly URL to your primary site in every tweet that goes out. Even though the tweet is limited to a small number of characters, you can fit in two URLs and a short descriptive caption.

Above we have proposed the idea of 5-pillar social media network to support your business and open up to inbound sales leads. It is a mini network of sites, cross-linked, each with you in the middle, but with different target audiences and different content. Having addressed the broadest social media, the fifth leg of the approach includes the wide variety of other sites, many of which are unique to a given industry. 

You can incorporate all of these sites can into your 5-pillar system.

Pam Velazquez is a content writer for www.RecordsProject.com


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