Have you considered the influence that peers, friends, and connections on social media may have on your online purchasing decisions? Being a contemplative group, many introverts have likely considered peer influence; but rest assured that social media marketers are thinking a lot about how to leverage peer influence. Recent research reveals details about how electronic word of mouth information on social media platforms influences sales. Empowered by this awareness, we can improve our personal decision-making about online purchases. In this post, we glean actionable insights from The Impact of User Personality Traits on Word of Mouth: Text-Mining Social Media Platforms (Adamopoulos et al. 2018).
Electronic word of mouth (i.e., messages and online content) is the most trusted source of information and advertising among US internet users. Because of its power, marketers leverage word of mouth to spread positive social media content about their products and services. Personality characteristics play an important role in a prospective buyer’s decision-making and acceptance of a suggested product or service.
In a reported first of its kind study, Adamopoulos et al. (2018) examined how peer-to-peer personality similarity and personality traits, coupled with electronic word of mouth, play into online purchasing behavior. This study relied on big data and machine learning to infer Twitter users’ personality traits, compare combinations of personality traits between Twitter message senders and followers, and relate that information to actual product purchases.
Adamopoulos et al. (2018) studied a 20-day marketing event on Twitter that resulted in nearly 47,000 purchases. The researchers applied linguistic analytics to all the text of the Twitter users’ publicly-posted messages and their profile descriptions to infer each user’s personality characteristics. They then examined the personality traits of pairs of Twitter message senders and their individual followers. Information captured by Twitter enabled the researchers to determine which users made an actual purchase and then exposed their followers to advocacy via a message and which of the exposed followers made a purchase. All of the followers received separate advertising through Twitter, thus the only difference being whether the follower was also exposed to a sender’s advocacy message.
Some notable study results were as follows:
- Seemingly agreeable, conscientious, and open people are better influencers – Social media senders identified as possessing agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness are more effective at disseminating word of mouth information.
- General personality similarity increases purchase likelihood by about 48% – The more alike a social media sender and recipient are, in terms of personality characteristics, the more likely the recipient will make a purchase based on the sender’s word of mouth.
- Introverts are more susceptible to word of mouth influence – The purchasing behavior of introverts was significantly influenced by word of mouth from either extraverted or introverted senders. In contrast, extraverts were influenced only by other extraverts.
- Extravert influencers exert a high impact on purchasing behavior of introverts – Despite the general finding that like personalities influence one another, a word of mouth message from an extraverted sender to an introverted recipient increased the likelihood that the introverted recipient would make a purchase by over 71%.
The study results enable marketers to deliver targeted, personality-focused advertising based on analyses of a social media user’s content, the user’s network, and the content for each user within that network. Introverts are more susceptible to such social media targeting than extraverts. Although the intended application of this research is to guide marketing strategies and tactics, we can use the findings to improve our awareness of how we may be influenced by social media marketing and, thus, improve our purchasing decisions.
Putting it into Action
When making a purchase through social media, lean on the wisdom of Viktor Frankl who wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning that “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”
Exercise that power to pause and consider whether your decision-making may be unduly influenced by word of mouth information. Consider what influencers may be affecting your decision. Reflect on whether their personality might be playing a disproportionate role. Be aware of the possibility that you and your network may be part of a campaign targeting on introverted personalities and their susceptibility to word of mouth suggestions. Proceed to purchase the products and services that you need and want, just consider how you came to need and want them.
Adamopoulos, Panagiotis, Anindya Ghose, and Vilma Todri. 2018. “The Impact of User Personality Traits on Word of Mouth: Text-Mining Social Media Platforms.” Information Systems Research 29 (3): 612–40.