Do you want to use the power of words to sway people to think, believe, and act a certain way?

Of course you do. But it takes more than simply posting and hoping for the best. It’s about sharing content that makes people care — content that makes audiences want to share your message with others.

The good news is that you can use proven methods to connect with people. Crafting content that people care about begins with understanding what motivates them.

Let’s take a look at five psychology-based principles you can start using today.

1. Use stories over stats.

In the New York Times bestseller Made To Stick, authors Chip and Dan Heath share research that reveals we’re more likely to donate when we hear the story of an individual in need rather than data about an entire impoverished area.

Even though an entire area’s suffering impacts more people than the suffering of one person, the individual’s story is appealing because we feel emotions from hearing someone’s experiences, rather than learning about raw data. People connect through listening to stories, not statistics and abstract information.

To apply this principle, you should tell a story to reach your audience’s emotions. Your content can impact audiences and remain memorable if you share a personal experience, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.

By creating a personal journey that people can follow, your work can create a greater emotional impact on your viewers.

2. Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Showing people how they benefit from reading your work will get you increased engagement from your audiences. For example, Taco Bell’s Twitter feed is known for its witty and interactive tweets. Most importantly, the team behind Taco Bell’s Twitter account knows how to make their content shareable.

The brand’s tongue-in-cheek humor inspires brand loyalty and makes the franchise relatable. For instance, deodorant brand Old Spice asked Taco Bell on Twitter, “Why is it that “fire sauce” isn’t made with any real fire? Seems like false advertising.” Taco Bell replied, “Is your deodorant made with really old spices?” Taco Bell shows that captivating the audience starts with thinking about what the audience wants, first and foremost.

So the next time you promote your work, listen to how people react to your message. Are you catering to their needs and their emotions? Whether you aim to provide actionable advice or to entertain (or both), your audience’s feedback can be used to create targeted messages.

3. Provide social proof.

These days, reviews and testimonials on products and services are available at the click of a button. People rely heavily on the opinions of others when they make decisions.

study was conducted in which public-service messages tried to convince residents to use fans instead of air conditioning. Results found that telling a group of people that most of their neighbors were using fans was more effective than telling them that they could save $54 a month.

Peer pressure can be incredibly powerful in shaping people’s perceptions and decisions. There are a number of ways you can use this concept — showing likes, posting testimonials, and providing your audience with proof on how much others like your writing as well.

4. Associate your work with authority figures.

Using an authority figure improves the perception of your work, whether it’s someone people trust, respect or like. If the person is recognized and successful in her own career, it rubs off positively on the brand.

For your content, you can ask a respected person in your industry to publicly endorse you or provide a word of praise for added credibility. Can’t find an authority figure? Then try building your own authority by using credibility markers, such as your previous experiences, educational background, or recognition you’ve received.

5. Build scarcity.

In 1985, Coca-Cola performed an experiment on whether people preferred the traditional Coke or their newer formula. Fifty-five percent of participants in blind taste tests preferred the new Coke, with preferences for the new Coke going up by six percent after the identities of the formulas were revealed.

However, when the traditional formula was replaced, people preferred the old Coke.

One of the most effective ways to grab people’s attention and make them take action is to make something scarce. People fear the chance of missing out on something. If you’re writing to an audience, this means providing exclusive content to readers or offering something for a limited period of time.

Scarcity doesn’t have to only refer to quantity, though. You can also create the impression of scarcity by sharing what makes your work unique, whether through your personality or emphasizing knowledge and experience that aren’t offered elsewhere.

Use Psychology to Persuade

Understanding psychology is the first step to learning how to send a powerful message. The next step is consciously using these principles when chatting with someone, speaking to a crowd, or sharing an article for the world to see. The final step is to receive and analyze the feedback, so that you can continuously iterate to create a stronger message each time.

When you know how to apply these principles, you learn how to persuade people to listen, follow, and implement what you have to say.

This article was originally published on Medium.

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