6 psychological buttons your content should press

Dr Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a must read for any content marketer.

Written in 1984, the 6 principles he describes are still relevant today: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity.

How can we use these principles in our content creation process?


Create good free content that you can give away as part of your sales process.

This is why marketers create free guides, tutorials and books that visitors can download and read. By getting something from you, your visitors are more likely to reciprocate when you want something from them.

For example, they may be more engaged when you ask them to participate in a survey, or think of you first when they are ready to make a purchase.

Social Proof

No one wants to be on the outside of a group, looking in. At the same time, no one wants to be the first to do something that hasn’t been tested or proven.

Marketers in large organisations need to be especially careful, balancing the need to show off their company with not doing anything that could cause organisational problems later.

Use the principle of social proof in your content to show that what you doing is best practice in your industry, how the best companies do similar work and point to industry leaders that back up your point of view.

Commitment and consistency

Your content needs to get to the point. People will pay attention to content that interests them, and take the time to go through it.

But, if your writing meanders and waffles and doesn’t seem to have a clear line of argument, your audience will give up and go somewhere else. A clear message, consistently delivered will help you keep them engaged.


Cialdini points out that we tend to think more highly of people we like. Liking can take several forms, from liking how attractive someone is, to how they are or what they do.

You can make it easier for people to like your content by making it easy to read, using headlines to break up the text and pictures that help make your point.


How can you show that your content has authority?

Try and work on material that shows how your approach is unique. Show your expertise and credibility by publishing useful and well researched content.


Don’t make your content like everyone else’s.

  • Make it valuable, better than someone else’s paid for content.
  • Make it rare, have it be so good that it stands out.
  • Make it hard to copy
  • Make it something that you can do better than anyone else

Use these principles as a checklist when planning and creating content.

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