An interview with Paul Marsden

An interview with Paul Marsden

You’re a doctor in psychology from London School of Economics – how do you apply this to the world of digital communications?

Psychology provides the insight needed to communicate in a compelling fashion in digital media.

For how long have you been integrating psychology within digital communications?

Since the turn of the century! My PhD in 2000 on ‘media contagion’ looked at the role of digital media in the spread of self-damaging behaviour.

How can an understanding of psychology help to shape a social media or digital strategy?

A basic understanding of psychology tells us that the human brain is essentially a problem-solving machine. So if you want to cut through and connect with digital audiences, your communications need to solve their problems.  Beyond practical problem-solving (such as providing useful real-time information updates) this can include helping solve ‘social’ problems, such as those of social status (how to stand out) and social bonding (how to fit in).In your experience, how open minded are organisations to using social psychology in developing social media programmes?

Are many organisations applying social psychology principles yet?

Organisations are increasingly using social psychology to inform effective communication in social media, since without it, they are finding that their communications are not cutting through. In my experience, B2B communications are ahead of the game here, with Adobe, SAP and American Express making a concerted effort to use social media to solve people’s information problems.

Can you think of an example or case study where using psychology has helped make a social media campaign better?

The luxury brand Burberry ran a psychologically smart campaign to communicate about their new fragrance, Burberry Body.  Rather than put out a Press Release, they announced it on Facebook, and invited people to order a free and exclusive pre-launch sample.  This gave people bragging rights – boosting social status – and ensured people would talk about the new fragrance.

You’re running a one day workshop “Social psychology for social media” with ISOC.  What can people expect to take away from the session?

People will take away key the psychological insights they need in order to communicate effectively in social media and achieve their communication objectives.

Find out more

This article draws on the knowledge base from ISOC courses on social media.

Related courses

Social media courses