Social Media

Building a Behavioral Design Social Media Strategy

Behavioral design is marketing that gets people to take action. You use neurological and behavioral insights to develop customer interactions and psychologically influence or change their behavior. Here are some tips you can use to incorporate behavioral design into your social media strategy.

Market to a State of Mind

Behavioral design aims to influence behavior and to do that you must examine your customers feelings. If you’re asking yourself whether you should look at  what someone is thinking to influence their decision making. It’s worth noting that we are not always influenced by reason. Humans are innately emotional beings and our emotional responses affect our decision making.

This means the first step to making a sale is understanding your target audience’s emotional state of mind. A state of mind is a temporary state when you are under high emotional arousal and relying on your subconscious emotional factors. This makes you more susceptible to influence.

Identifying Emotional Mindstates

To identify your customers emotional mindstates, ask two questions:  Which of the eight mindsets best explains your customers desires and what path do they take to maximize their gains or minimize their losses when they are chasing those desires?

The Mindsets

These come from the Values, Addititudes, and Lifestyles segmentation, (VALS), which is a system for grouping consumers according to various psychological factors and demographics in an attempt to predict their behavior and purchasing decision process, by looking at resources and motivations. They fall into high resources or low resources, and consider ideals, achievement, and self-expression..

Innovators: Innovators typically exhibit all three primary motivations in varying degrees. Members who fall in this group are confident enough to experiment, makes the highest number of financial transactions yet remain skeptical of advertising. They’re always taking in information are future-oriented, are self-directed consumers, and believe that science as well as research and development are credible. People who fall in this group are also the most receptive to new ideas and Technologies and have the widest variety of interests and activities.

Thinkers: Thinkers have high resources and are motivated by ideals. They are financially established and aren’t influenced by trends. They plan, research, and consider their options before they act and as such have a tendency toward analysis paralysis. They gravitate towards traditional intellectual pursuits and use technology and functional ways, and purchase proven products.

Believers: Believers have low resources but are also motivated by ideals. They believe in basic rights and wrongs to lead a good life. They value stability and constancy. They watch TV and read novels to find an escape and often rely on faith and spirituality to provide inspiration. they have little to no tolerance for ambiguity; they want to know where things stand.

Achievers: People who fall into this category have both high resources and achievement motivation. They are private, professional people who have a me first and my family first attitude. They believe money is the source of authority and are committed to their family and job. They tend to be moderate, goal-oriented, fully scheduled, and hard-working. They value any technology that helps them increase productivity.

Strivers: Strivers are a group of people who are motivated by achievement but have low resources. They tend to wear their wealth, rely heavily on public transportation, have revolving employment with high levels of temporary unemployment. They rely on video games and video as a form of fantasy and ultimately desire to better their lives but have difficulty in realizing that desire.

Experiencers: Experiencers are a group of people with high resources focused on self-expression motivation. People in this group typically want everything and find themselves to be the first in and first out of trend adoption. They aim to go against the current mainstream, stay up-to-date with the latest fashions, love physical activity because they are  sensation-seeking, believe friends are extremely important, consider themselves incredibly social and are spontaneous.

Makers: Makers have low resources and a self-expression motivation. People in this group generally have a strong interest in everything related to Automotive, tend to be distrustful of the government, have strong outdoor interest such as hunting and fishing, believed in strong gender roles,  Want to own land, see themselves as straightforward but appear to be anti-intellectual to others and have a strong desire to protect what they perceived to be theirs.

Survivors: As a consumer group, survivors have the lowest resources but they do not exhibit a primary motivation. They are the oldest consumers and are thrifty. They tend to be cautious and risk-averse. They watch a lot of TV and are loyal to products and brands. People in this group are the least likely to use the internet and are the most likely to have a landline only household. They spend a lot of their time alone and are not concerned about appearing trendy or traditional. They find comfort in routine, familiar places and people,

Other than using VALS, you can also use the nine enneagram personality types to help you learn more about your target audience and their mindset.

Developing Your Strategy

When it comes to your overall marketing strategy, social media is likely to be a major part of it. If you want to sell a product or service you must have said less yourself as a thought leader in your industry and social media is a great tool for accomplishing that goal.

In addition to behavioral design, you should consider building your social media strategy with mental shortcuts or key cognitive heuristics because these can make engagement with your posts both easier and quicker.

Mental Shortcuts to Use in Social Media


  • Reciprocity: This is the idea that by giving something away people will feel inclined to reciprocate.
  • In-group bias: This is the idea of building a group of people around a shared belief or cause.
  • Bizarreness effect: The idea that people are more likely to share bizarre posts.

As you work on building your social media presence and community, it’s important that you not rely solely on reciprocity and bizarreness. Using bizarreness may get you the engagement in the form of likes and comments, but they may not make an impact on behaviors. Many people say that if you provide value, your effort will be rewarded. It is possible however that your efforts will be a bust with your audience and you won’t get them to take the desired action.

It’s worth taking the time to look into other kinds of cognitive biases that you can use in your social media efforts. You may find other options that are better suited to your audience and industry that you can use in your efforts.

Focus on Genuine Connections

By also focusing on your in-group bias to build genuine connections with your community, this is where you will likely get the most bang for your buck with your behavioral design. The in group are more likely to get an engagement from your audience compared to other strategies simply because you’re using openness and honesty to relate to your audience. This kind of content helps cut through humblebrag posts and creates a genuine connection with your followers.

It’s okay to use the bizarreness posts for shock factor and the reciprocity posts to focus on the transaction, to build your initial audience, but without the in-group aspect, you will not be able to create the strong connections you need to convert people from followers to customers.

Ultimately building a behavioral design social media strategy means remaining consistent with your posting efforts and experimenting until you find what works for you and your audience.

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