Is there room for Psychology in Social Media?


Is it time for you to put together a marketing campaign for your business or practice? When we work on promoting our business through social media, we often don’t consider the psychology behind the strategy. One example of this in action is the infamous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that raised over $115 million in donations. This viral marketing campaign was a huge success because it utilized some core psychological principles to its advantage.

For example, we are more likely to complete a task when we have publicly committed to it. We fear the risk of personal and public embarrassment if we don’t follow through. Intensify that by the fact that you are being personally nominated to complete this task in a very public way and peer pressure dictates that you will feel the moral obligation to fulfill that promise rather than risk public embarrassment. This works because of our personal identity and how we perceive ourselves and more importantly to the campaign, how we wish others to perceive us. In the case of the ALS challenge, this peer pressure forces us to take action on our need to attach charity and compassion to our identity.

Creating a sense of exclusivity is another reason this campaign was so successful. You had to be nominated to participate in the ice bucket challenge. Even I have to admit a sense of let down at not having been nominated to pouring an ice cold bucket of water over my head in front of friends and family. It’s our need to be accepted and belong to something we perceive as exclusive that fuels our need to take action. It’s almost like being invited to be part of an exclusive club, which we can brag that we belong to.

The ALS challenge also had a great sense of urgency attached to it. You had 24 hours to pour that bucket of cold water over your head AND make a $10 dollar donation or you had to make a $100 donation. This approach along with the aspect of peer-pressure practically guarantees the campaigns success. The timing of this campaign was also perfect. I can’t help but think of the downfall of this campaign if they would have introduced this in the fall or winter.

At the end of the day, you have to give props to the marketing genius of this campaign. They used basic psychological concepts to drive millions of dollars in donations and bring awareness to their cause; all while creating a sense of peer pressure and exclusivity to make it happen. Now that’s a call to action principle at its best!

What’s more exciting is that all of us can accomplish this. If you’re looking to increase awareness in your business and want to drive traffic, I encourage you to ask yourself this question. Is there room for Psychology in Social Media?


  1. Mindset – no doubt. Mindset is the primary concern!! Love getting the various examples and reminders. Using the ALS thing and how it all relates – wonderful! Thank you!

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