What motivates people? The same old things, even online.

first_imgWhen it comes to persuasion, there really is nothing new under the sun.I was reminded of this by a wonderful piece in yesterday’s Harvard Business Review blog called “Secrets of Social Media Revealed 50 Years Ago.” It cites the work of Ernest Dichter, the father of motivational research, on word of mouth and brands. Dichter’s findings about how recommendations spread in human networks is extremely applicable to the online world of today.According to the blog post by David Aaker, Dichter said several things make brand word of mouth spread. Here is my summary of these points – and how I think they relate to nonprofits.1. People are motivated to talk about brands when a) they have personal experience with a product that is so delightful it inspires sharing; b) they want to appear in the know by sharing advice; c) they want to show caring and connect with others; or d) the message is so interesting or funny they just have to pass it on. I’d sum up these points this way: To get people to talk, you have to give them something to talk about. You either need to be incredibly creative in your messages — or give people a fantastic firsthand experience with your cause. You can do this with something as simple as an amazing thank-you. Those are rare in our sector!2. People who listen need to believe the speaker has credible experience and isn’t trying to sell them something. Hence the strength of peer reviews. What third parties can speak for you? They are more compelling and persuasive than you. How can you frame your interactions with your supporters as a conversation? That also builds trust.3. Purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by personal recommendations – 80% for some products. The Internet has made this even more persuasive a phenomenon. I believe much of this applies beyond products and is why friends-to-friends fundraising has such power. It is worth your attention.Yup, everything old is new again – so remember these truisms. They, not shiny bells and whistles, are what drive behavior online.last_img read more