Read This Because I Said So… The Power of Persuasion

Social Media

Doug Antkowiak Jun 12 2012

“Because I said so” worked with your mom and it works in marketing. “Because” is a magical word because when people hear it, they start to buy in.

Taking its roots from the phrase bi cause during the 13th Century, “because” introduces a direct reason for any occurrence or action in a statement. Last month, Ian touched on the power of because during his Social Media Means Business presentation and I thought it was too juicy to pass up a post on the PI blog.

Because, Because, Because, Because, Because…

Because of the wonderful things it does… Da Duh… Da Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun. Ask Google about the “Power of Because” and you’ll go down a yellow brick road of hundreds of psychological studies of people getting what they want with that one word. The most famous experiment was conducted by behavioral scientist Ellen Langer, where she set up three scenarios to see if a complete stranger could use persuasion tactics to cut in line at the photocopier.

The Because Experiment

As the control, the “stranger” simply asks the person standing in line, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Roughly 60% of participants allowed the copier cutter to move ahead of them in line.

However, when the “stranger” used a reason in his request, “May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” participant compliance soared to 94%. What ever happened to “no cuts, no butts, no coconuts?”

Here’s the part that will really knock your socks off. When the “stranger” used “because,” but followed it with an asinine reason, “May I use the Xerox machine because I need to make copies?” 93% of participants continued to comply.

The “Because Experiment” shows that it’s always important to give someone a reason, even if your reason isn’t very compelling.

Because Social Media is Important

Now that you know how to save time on your next Kinko’s trip, you should also consider using because to persuade your readers. Before you start inserting the big B in all of your tweets, remember that one of the most under-utilized tactics in social media is to simply ask people to make an action.

Dan Zarrella is one of my favorite social scientists (quick plug that I’m not being paid for, Dan’s book Hierarchy of Consciousness is a highly recommended read) and he wrote about the 20 phrases that will get you the most retweets. The words please, retweet and “please retweet” all drive an incredibly high amount of interactions. Try to capitalize on the power of because with one of these highly retweeted phrases.

OccurrencesWord/Phrase (out of 158,000 Tweets)
1364you
1138twitter
701please
598retweet
397post
389blog
352social
306free
304media
269help
262please retweet
262great
237social media
22910
222follow
187how to
165top
164blog post
128check out
118new blog post

 

Even my boss will tell you, asking people to like or retweet something is the easiest way to get people’s attention.

The next time you need to persuade your audience to take action, ask them to help out and give them a reason to care about it.

 

tags : BecausePower of Persuasion

7 Comments

  1. Joseph

    Great Article, I came here because i saw a tweet with the phrase “READ THIS BECAUSE I SAID SO” I guess it worked on me :-D . I will try out this because tip.

  2. Shawn

    In education, teachers are upset these days b/c kids have don’t understand that they are supposed to yield to their authority simply b/c the teachers are teachers. Pretty funny.

    This post also reminded me of Sinek’s Start With Why. Good stuff.

  3. This is a great concept for all areas of marketing. The two that come to mind are website copy and prospect meetings. Listing features doesn’t work for readers or prospects anymore, they need benefits attached to each one and “because” is the perfect starting point.

  4. Some really cool stats and a good post! Definitely will look more into this.

    I guess this works a lot becuase I too read this becuase you told me to :).

    Although I can’t stand seeing people begging “celebrities” and their idols for Retweets – they come straight out of my following list!

    Great post though, thanks!

  5. The “because” tells the person why. You can’t expect to get anything (a re-tweet, share, etc.) from someone if they don’t know why they would do it. Be sure to include the benefit and what’s in it for them.

  6. I guess it makes perfect sense to say why you are asking people to do something. The word “because” becomes such a compelling call to action when the others understand perfectly the reason why they have to acquiesce to your request.

  7. Great article that was also a fun read. You not only were able to give out great information, but kept it interesting with the images used and “The Because Experiment”. Just goes to show, that like in most situations information is king. By giving people more information with using because, your therefore making them more interested. Look forward to reading more of your work, keep it up.

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