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The Bandwagon Effect – Persuasion Techniques

By Katie Barber, posted on September 1, 2018

A new restaurant has opened in town and all you see on your Instagram is your friends trying out this new place. 

If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ll feel compelled to try it out for yourself. If everyone is going there, that must make it a really good place with superior food to your local haunt right?

Not necessarily, in fact this is quite illogical. There is no reason you’ll enjoy this place more than the local cafe which makes your breakfast just how you like it. There is no reason why you should believe something just because most of your friends do. But we all make cognitive biases like this. 

A cognitive bias is a common dip in judgement that the human brain is likely to make. While we’re not all prey to cognitive biases all the time, and some people are less likely to fall for them than others, most of the time, we’ll do them without thinking. 

Politicians frequently use the bandwagon effect, as well as marketers and advertisers. They’ll create the illusion that the majority of people like us, are doing or believing a certain thing. 

I quite commonly see marketers use the bandwagon effect to get people to subscribe to their course or newsletter. “Join 10,000 other entrepreneurs and subscribe”. 

A new venue in Sheffield is capitalising on the band wagon effect (not to say the food isn’t really good – it’s a great place) but why has this particular place obtained so much hype? After all, I’ve never seen any of their social media posts or PR. How did I know this place existed?

They’ve created an environment that is extremely sharable on social media. This is something that has been done without the help of marketing or PR. They’re utilising their customers to do the marketing for them. How?

  1. A free photobooth. The photobooth in question is an expense for the business, but it encourages people to have their photo taken at the venue and then share the cute retro photobooth pictures on their instagram. 
  2. Unusually presented food. Am I going to post a picture of a really tasty burger to my instagram if it looks terrible? Probably not. Am I going to post a picture of a rainbow coloured burger bun on Instragram? Hell yes. 
  3. Customised local Snapchat filters. You can buy your own geo targeted Snapchat filter. Did you know that? And they’re not as pricey as you might think. On average they cost $5-$10 per day. Now whenever someone Snaps their time at this venue, the location will be advertised. 

Any business can use the bandwagon effect in their marketing and with social media, it’s easier than ever. Here are my tips for making it look like using your business is something that everyone is doing: 

  1. When someone does record their time with your business on social media, share it on your own profiles. An endorsement from someone else is more important than anything you could post yourself. It looks as if lots of people are sharing their experiences.
  2. Encourage people to share your business on social media. If you have a product, give it exceptionally attractive packaging. If you have a venue, create a whole wall where people can pose for their photograph with your business name in shot. Because social media is visual, do whatever you can to make your business a visually sharable product. Design has become more important than ever.
  3. Use influencer marketing selectively. A few well placed blogs or Instagram posts from an influencer can encourage other people to use and share your business. 
  4. Simply say that everyone is doing it. If you had a super busy opening night, show pictures of your business looking extremely busy. If 20,000 people have already downloaded your app, tell people. Big brands aren’t afraid to say that their product is ‘The UK favourite’, so why are small businesses afraid to use such fighting talk?
  5. Ask people to share your business or to give you a review. There is a local business which will give you a free can of pop if you give them a review on Trip Advisor. Most people will review or share your business if you simply ask them. Part of being a marketer is realising how easy it is to prompt people into action. 

Do not underestimate the bandwagon effect! This technique is basically responsible for making people decide to smoke their first cigarette. The best thing about it is it’s a very easy technique to use, so if you aren’t mindfully using it, you’re missing out. 


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