12 Ways to Trigger Buying on Instagram

What would make you buy something on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest?

In case you don’t already know, we tend to buy with our hearts rather than our heads. This is why marketers have used emotional psychological triggers to prompt their targeted audiences to act.

By weaving these triggers into your branded content on social media, you have a higher chance of succeeding in converting your fans and followers to prospects and customers.

So what are these triggers then?

#1 Love

Love is the strongest emotion in the marketing lexicon. Wherever possible, we should try to create product and brand images that our followers can love. Messages that convey love are also powerful.

Love is the reason why super cute pictures of puppies and kittens are so viral on the social web. It is also a great trigger for buying – ever wonder why Valentine’s Day restaurant meals and Christmas gifting is so popular?

#2 Desire

We all have a deep innate desire to own things, feel comfortable, or meet interesting people. By stoking desire, marketers are able to pull their customers along for the ride and improve their chances of making a purchase decision.

#3 Ownership

The ultimate goal of brand management is to get your customers to be such strong advocates that they are willing to be your brand ambassadors. To instil ownership, you could bring your fans along for the behind-the-scenes peek at what your organisation does, or elicit their inputs when developing a new product or service.

#4 Justifying Purchases

Have you ever felt the need to rationalise a purchase? Well you are not alone. Since time immemorial, shopaholics through the ages have always felt a need to have an excuse for what they have bought.

These excuses can come in many forms – a coupon with an irresistible deal, a limited time offer, or buy-one-get-one-free-deal. Help your customers to assuage their guilt!

#5 Belonging

As human beings, we are all relational creatures. This desire to belong can be a powerful emotional trigger for brands seeking to build a customer community.

People do not want to feel that they are left out of a happening party or a wonderful event. Through social media updates and events, you can help to strengthen the sense of community and belonging.

#6 Collecting Impulse

Do you know that many of us have a collecting instinct?

From stamps, books, clothes and cars, to dining and travelling experiences, almost everybody we know has a desire to acquire. On social media, this even extends to the number of followers and fans one has.

To appeal to this trigger, it is useful for your social media channels to help your followers collect things – physical items, experiences, badges or popularity on social networks.

#7 Curiosity

We are all curious creatures and marketers have exploited this weakness since time immemorial. Social media works extremely well in piquing one’s curiosity. This can be anything through a tantalizingly written teaser text or an image of an upcoming product that is partially concealed.

To ride on this, try to present your items in a way that increases mystery, tease and taunt. Don’t just present your product in the usual showroom fashion, but zoom in or out to focus on its unique features.

#8 Storytelling

A story is a powerful trigger that deepens trust, increases fascinating and builds affection. To tap on this trigger, dig deeply into your brand heritage, founder’s journey, or product origin.

Are there any unique tales that you can share about the inspiration behind your latest product? What about the ingredients that went into that sensational dish? Use these little vignettes to enchant your audience and draw them deeper into your brand.

#9 Greed

Yes, this is one of the seven deadly sins. It is also why many of us are happy to hunt for basement bin bargains and value-for-money deals during Black Friday or the Great Singapore Sale.

Greed is a huge motivator for people to act, and it is also the reason why people are willing to participate in contests to win prizes.

#10 Urgency

Nothing beats getting somebody to take action than imposing a deadline. This works equally well both at work and at play. I guess this is why time-limited offers have always had its place in a marketer’s toolbox.

On social media, introduce expiry dates to your product or service offers. Ditto for contests and promotions.

#11 Immediate Gratification 

In certain markets, impulse purchases form a key driver for revenue. When people see something that they like or desperately need – one which doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – they can be primed to act on their impulse.

In appealing to your potential customer’s impulse, do also incorporate the other triggers like urgency, greed, and curiosity to deliver a quadruple whammy to your social media marketing strategy.

#12 Scarcity

Last, but certainly not least, we are triggered by scarcity. The rarer and more exclusive something is, the greater we desire to acquire it and make it a part of our possession.

This strategy of exclusivity can be deployed by releasing your products in small little batches. Witness how Apple does this perfectly with each new launch of their iPads or iPhones. Launching time-limited editions or unique rare items also helps to engender exclusivity.



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