How Social Currency Affects Behavior

It's the age of the connected customer and people are now comfortable using technology to share — privately or in public. Numerous studies have been conducted about the impact of reviews on buying behavior.

Instead of writing an explanation when someone asks a question we're now more likely to include a link to more information. Links are the currency of the Web.

Thanks to the processors we carry in our pocket and can use to access, review, act upon, and share information, we're now starting to link online and offline experiences. Recent reports of the decline in people using the Internet shows that we don't consider our mobile behavior "surfing the Internet".

It is this moving line in buyer behavior that is driving the blurring of digital and in store commerce.

How social currency influences behavior

Social influences include peer pressure and social exchange. The latter is stronger than an economic motive.  

Most human interactions consist of an exchange of value. From a psychological standpoint, actions like sharing signal desire for self expression, need for validation, and social status recognition, and also simply altruism and affinity with a group or cause.

Both social influences are amplified in public settings.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini documented six principles of ethical persuasion: social proof, authority, scarcity, affinity, commitment/consistency, and reciprocity.

Social Proof


We are swayed by what the crowd is doing, and social networks play a very important role in providing evidence for our already predisposed herd mentality.



We've learned or are learning to search for customer reviews before hitting the "buy" button. As many a sad story illustrates, when buying online, do your due diligence, don't expect search engines to do all the work for you.



Early access, special treatment, exclusive offers and deals are all levers marketers use to engage the inherent desire of wanting what is rare.



This heuristic deserves a post on its own, because as I've highlighted on multiple occasions, social networks are blurring the line between virtual familiarity — seeing someone's avatar across streams — with real relationships.

The brain can't tell apart what is real from what is imagined.



We are easily manipulated by our desire to be and to appear to be consistent with our past actions and statements.



We're being fair at the tune of tens of thousands of pieces of content shared daily.


One ethical application of the principles of persuasion is to provide outstanding products and services that solve a problem, fill a need, respond to a want.


[images credit TabJuice]

[reposted from archives]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effects on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.