Pavlov’s Dog and What He Has to Do With Your Followers

Doctor Ivan Pavlov won the Nobel prize in 1904 for his research and findings in the physiology of the digestive system. He and his colleagues figured out that animals have reflexes and triggers that occur when it came to food. They figured out how the digestive system connects to the brain and how natural things in the body occur when we are conditioned by certain situations. But Mike… who the heck cares?

Pavlov and his colleagues studied dogs like this:

  1. Pavlov has a dog, a treat, and a bell
  2. Pavlov rings the bell
  3. Pavlov gives the dog the treat
  4. The dog is happy

This exercise was practiced over an extended period of time. Repeated over and over again, consistently. After a while, Pavlov noticed something interesting occurred when he rang the bell:

After conducting this experiment for a period of time, whenever Pavlov rang the bell, the dog started to salivate!

The sound of the bell triggered something inside the dog’s brain that made its salivary glands activate. FASCINATING, isn’t it? After Pavlov started noticing this behavioral trend, he decided to ring the bell and NOT give the dog a treat. Can you guess what happened? Even when the doctor rang the bell and he did not give the dog a treat, the dog started to salivate because it THOUGHT it was going to get a treat… WOW! Just the sound of the bell made the dog think there was an incoming treat.

I am not a physiologist nor am I a doctor. I am a marketer. Marketing has a lot of psychology to it, believe it or not. The way people react to things, how certain videos, images and words cause people to feel different feelings, and how colors can affect the way people buy a product. These are just a few examples of many relating to how the brain can be and is conditioned to things it is exposed to consistently.

The same principles of consistency discovered in this experiment can and should be applied to the way you create content for social media. As people, we are creatures of habit. We like consistency and predictability. We like knowing that when we do something such as eating, our hunger and appetite will be satisfied. When we are thirsty, a drink will quench our thirst. We come to expect results and if whatever activity or event we are participating in meets our expectations, we are then satisfied. If you’re craving a big juicy cheeseburger or a huge plate of roasted veggies, when the server delivers your food, you’re expecting it to taste a certain way and if it does not, you are left disappointed.

You have followers. Whether that number is 100, 1,000 or 1,000,000, this principle applies to you:  Your followers expect things from your content! They know what they’re going to get from your posts whether it’s a fitness tip, an OOTD, a yummy recipe or a pick-me-up motivational post that will help them through a hard time. This means, you need to give them what they expect and what they want!

Pick a few things (2-3) you are good at and like to post about. These are your key genres of content that will live on your social platforms. When you create a feed that is consistent and somewhat predictable, your followers will go up and your follower retention will increase.

Post with a purpose. Do not just post whatever random thing it is you’re doing that day unless it is super interesting and relevant to your followers. I know it’s tempting sometimes to want to give that birthday shout-out to your bestie, but your followers don’t really care about their birthday, unfortunately. They may care about that person if they know them! But if it’s a random thing, keep it off the page.

I believe consistency is the key to increasing engagement and follower retention. It’s psychological and physiological, my friends. Give the people what they want and they will continue to come back for more.

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