When you make a decision, you try to position yourself towards the outcome that benefits you the most, right? In the process, your decision may also positively impact others. Whether you believe it or not, we are all impacted by social influence. With over 71% of adult internet users on Facebook connecting with each other, we are persuading each other more and more each day. Although the word itself carries a darker undertone, persuasion is not necessarily a bad thing. To persuade someone is to encourage them by providing them with support, confidence, or hope and stimulating their progress and development. For consumer businesses, it’s the holy grail for influencer marketing; a marketing strategy that thrives on identifying influential individuals that can shape potential buyers’ decisions.
As a society we strive to be unique, but in a way that allows us to fit in. Thankfully, social media has provided us with the ability to do just that. We can post pictures, create statuses, and use hashtags that show off our individuality while simultaneously connecting us with people that share similar interests. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr are all social sites that supply individuals with endless amounts of inspiration. They let people with bold ideas stand out and set trends and enable more reserved individuals to follow suit.
So what happens if you are one of those more indecisive, easily-persuaded individuals? You end up making decisions based on previous communications, interactions, or behaviors you have observed from your peers. Admit it, you’ve looked up someone from your past on social media and quickly became intrigued by the photos of their clothing style, home decor, or latest gadgets. You hurriedly search on Amazon for the same products and make your purchase. You believed in the decisions made by your old friend despite your limited knowledge on the merchandise, and took the plunge. Congratulations, you have made a social default choice! I can say with great certainty that this was not your first time making one of these decisions, nor will it be your last. A social default choice is often made when:
- we are in a private setting
- we have little knowledge about a product, company, etc.
- we are uncertain about our options
- we do not have a brand preference
- we are feeling tired or distracted
- we know that the stakes are low
Consumer companies swarm at the chance to influence people that make social default choices often. Consequently, these companies are on a mission to recruit tech-savvy, social dare-devils that will successfully promote their products and simultaneously inspire others to buy them. Today, social media is the bridge that connects these parties together. It exposes social innovators to successful brands, allows brands to chose the social innovator that fits the company ideals best, creates a partnership between the two parties, and fosters a connection between the social innovator and potential new customers. It is unclear as to whether social media will continue to be in charge of the direction of social influence, but it’s strength does not seem to be in decline any time soon.