Coffee or tea?
Should you eat porridge or scrambled eggs for breakfast? Should you get out of bed with your left or right foot first? Perhaps you went to the store on your way to work and left with a full shopping bag. What made you decide to buy these specific products?
Researchers at Cornell University have found that an adult makes about 35,000 decisions every day. However, according to the research of Alex Pouget, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, people make the most optimal decisions when consciousness is not involved in the process. That is when we don’t even realize the fact of making a decision.
Brands can’t remain indifferent to such data — it’s a powerful weapon in the fight for attention, loyalty and consumer spending. This is all the reason you need to get to know neuromarketing.
A look into the human mind
Neuromarketing is about using scientific knowledge focused on the human neural system for marketing purposes. We’re talking molecular biology, electrophysiology, neurophysiology, embryology, behavioral biology, neurology, neuropsychology and cognitive science. All these areas are intended to help in predicting and explaining the reactions (behaviors) of the consumer.
The man behind the hype surrounding neuromarketing is G. Zaltman, who in 1998 conducted a comprehensive study of the human brain. It turned out that 95% of human behaviors and preferences come from the subconscious.
And who is more interested in knowing the source of the needs and desires of consumers than marketers?
Keep an eye on the eye
Since the secret of marketing success may lie in the human mind, it seems obvious to focus on how it works. In the human body, the most developed and fastest operating system is visual perception. Research shows that, on average, 90% of information that a person receives from the environment is transmitted through the sense of sight. In addition, 65% of people are “visual learners”.
“The language of vision determines, perhaps even more subtly and thoroughly than verbal language, the structure of our consciousness” — Ann Marie Seward Barry wrote in her book “Visual Intelligence: Perception, Image and Manipulation in Visual Communication”.
These are important hints for marketers — the curiosity of recipients can be increased through the use of engaging visual communication. And where does this form of content fit perfectly? In social media, of course.
Through the looking glass
Let’s start with a puzzle. What do these have in common: a picture of a yawning person, a photo of an open fracture and an image of a baby laughing?
All these images cause a strong reaction in our body. In the first case, we also yawn, in the second — we look away, and a grimace of pain appears on our face, while seeing the last image makes us smile. These reactions are caused by so-called “mirror neurons”, which are responsible for feeling empathy.
Also, mirror neurons push us to shop. It may seem nonsense, but subconsciously we want to look like a model from a photo, we want to have a car like a football star, we constantly strive to have what others have. Like it or not, but we all imitate others.
How can you use mirror neurons to create engaging social media graphics? Take advantage of the smile! It’s kind of banal, but it’s the strongest tool of emotional impact on others. Seeing a smile causes the brain to produce dopamine — a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feeling pleasure.
A smile is as contagious as yawning, but cleverly puts the audience in a good mood. They begin to feel pleasure, which they will subconsciously associate with your brand or product.
Neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that the brain can identify images visible for just 13 milliseconds.
It seems like a blink of an eye. However, this is sufficient time to cause an emotional reaction. Nothing affects the commemoration as experienced emotions. Writer Maya Angelou was right:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
There are four emotions that specifically speak to the brain in conjunction with marketing messages:
- joy (or cheerfulness, serenity, delight)
- trust (or admiration, acceptance)
- anticipation (or curiosity, interest, expectancy)
- surprise (or amazement, astonishment, uncertainty)
To use this insight, you must know exactly what emotions you want to evoke in your audience. Otherwise, you’re unable to predict what people might feel, which might negatively affect your brand’s perception.
How to play with emotions in social media graphics
How can you use an emotional response to create engaging social media graphics? Pay attention to the sensory parameters of your visual message:
Colors and brightness
Bright images are associated positively, they create a sense of security, clarity of the message and credibility. Dark images are associated with mystery, they arouse curiosity, but they can also suggest a threat. This classic example — a tweet by Oreo published during a power outage at Superbowl in 2013 — presents a simple yet playful usage of the contrast between black and white. Apart from that, the whole advertising world acknowledged the tweet for its real-time marketing character.
IMPORTANT: Each color has a culturally assigned meaning that can be positive or negative. For example, red is associated with love and passion, but also with aggression. Colors also affect our well-being and reception of reality. Red raises blood pressure, blue and green make you calm. Apply different tones of colors to emphasize the brand’s features. Pastel colors are associated with delicacy, sepia connects with tradition and history, sharp colors emphasize individuality.
The human subconscious is naturally focused on watching movement — in the past, it was associated with the need to fight for survival. In advertising graphics, the rule of motion is that the viewer’s eyes follow an arrow, sight or finger.
You can use this regularity in two ways:
1. Draw a finger or arrow that will point to the key advertising message.
2. Put an image of a person or a group of people looking at the place where the advertised product, the company’s logo or the slogan is located.
It’s a very attractive element for the brain, eye-catching and focusing attention. However, this is a risky method and must be used with caution.
The human mind loves puzzles and focusing on unusual images. The fact that it cannot solve the puzzle immediately makes the message more memorable.
Bring back memories and feelings
When you make decisions, your mind puts up a fight between emotional and rational stimuli. In a situation where you have to make a quick choice, rational thinking usually loses — that’s why we often go to the store to buy a particular thing and leave with a full cart.
Evolution has equipped us with special somatic markers. Markers are a kind of drawers in the brain. Constantly helping in eliminating too many options available in a given situation lead to making a decision that will be the most advantageous for us or will bring the least damage. Somatic markers refer to memories and associations, significantly shortening the decision-making processes.
Brands, wanting to positively affect the feelings of consumers associated with its products or services, should think about the associations that they want to trigger and strongly emphasize them. This can be a very effective way to shape new somatic markers.
How can you use somatic markers in creating engaging graphics in social media? Refer to past experiences. An example of using the somatic marker is the advertising campaign of EVIAN water. It presents two look-alike models next to each other, an adult and a child. The illustration allows you to return to childhood memories, feelings that accompanied us at this carefree stage of life. The image of the “younger version” is a somatic marker here.
Neuromarketing techniques: no magic, just science
Neuromarketing, like any field of science, can be converted into a specific monetary value derived from the application of its results. Neuromarketing research allows us to accurately refer to determining the needs and preferences of different target groups. Skillfully used neuromarketing techniques can work great in engaging audiences. Social media channels are a good example but other forms of content can benefit equally from neuromarketing techniques.