Social Experiment

The Science of Social Media

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Using The Mere-Exposure Effect In Influence Marketing

The Mere-Exposure Effect, also known as the Familiarity Principle, states that people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar. Meaning the more we are exposed to something, the more we will like it.

This is a driving principle in effect on every social media platform. Brands and businesses post across their channels to keep their products and services at the top of your mind–not only to remind you they’re there but to build familiarity with you so you’ll be more apt to purchase from them than their competitors.

The effect works with both visual and auditory ads, which is why it’s smart to mention your brand name or logo as many times as you reasonably can in the ad.

In the book, Contagious, Jonah Berger spoke about how Hershey revived it’s Kit Kat bar. You know, the candy bar with one of the most iconic jingles ever made; “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!” Even though researchers had deemed this ad one of the top ten “earworms” of all time, Kit Kat was getting lost in the myriad of products available from the candy giant.

The Kit Kat bar was running out of steam, it wasn’t top of mind and consumers weren’t buying the bar. The Kit Kat bar already had great familiarity, but consumers were forgetting about it because impressions were down. In the current marketing climate, with most consumers getting up to 4,000 impressions a day, the candy bar was not getting the exposure it once had.

Rather than design an entirely new campaign to replace “give me a break,” marketers looked at people who were consuming Kit Kats and found they often ate them on their breaks, and many consumed them with a hot beverage, like coffee.

So a new campaign was born, “a break’s best friend,” using the already well know connection between Kit Kat and breaks then adding coffee. Ads featuring a Kit Kat bar sitting on a counter next to a cup of coffee or someone grabbing a coffee and asking for a Kit Kat rejuvenated the brand and put it back on the map.

And “ads” have changed over the years; no longer is the placement of your brand relegated to television commercials, magazine ads, or radio spots. Savvy marketers are placing their products across all media avenues to increase exposure and thus familiarity with their brands. From that Junior Mint that fell into the open chest cavity of a patient during an episode of Seinfeld to Sheldon’s use of Purell on The Big Band Theory, brands want to make sure you see their products as often as possible to increase your exposure to them.

However, psychologists warn that not all exposure is good exposure. While it seems like quantity of impressions would win the day, it’s also the quality of your engagement that affects familiarity. You must make sure that your impressions are favorable or neutral, anything that comes across as a negative experience can affect your brand adversely.

To take it a step further, researchers at Cornell found that when a brand ambassador makes eye contact with a consumer whether it’s in an ad, on a cereal box, or in a video, potential buyers felt a 16% higher brand trust and 28% higher brand connection. Proving that getting face time with consumers matters.

One sure way brands can get more familiar with their followers is using Facebook Live or other live streaming videos. Using video allows you to get the face time you need without the huge expense. Plus, you’re able to speak with them and they with you building a more genuine relationship.

Another benefit of video’s power is its ability to increase a marketers understanding of how the familiarity principle affects conversion rates with metrics showing where viewers lost interest, clicks to a website, or rewatching.

Using the Mere-Exposure Effect promises to get more eyes on your messaging and promises to give you a leg up on your competition.

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