social impact theory
social impact theory

The term social impact theory was first coined by Bibb Latané, at The Ohio State University, long before the invention of social media platforms, in 1981. This psychologist conducted a series of experiments to figure out how influence really worked and came up with three different factors: strength, immediacy, and numbers.

By strength, the theory means how important is the influencer to the target audience, immediacy is in terms of proximity in time between the two, and numbers stand for the number of the influencers themselves.

Social Media Impact

Although the social impact theory was developed long before social media platforms came to be, it has become a lot more powerful when used correctly with the invention of these platforms.

For example, a social media platform such as Twitter provides strength in the form of family, friends, and coworkers – the people that most individuals are closest to and whose opinions they value. The platform provides both virtual and temporal immediacy because these people are always a device away. Finally, it also provides a big opportunity because there is a big number of people who can influence others.

However, the way that all of this information relates to marketing and public relations campaigns isn’t impacting an audience’s immediacy or these people’s connections – but it does greatly help in the third factor of the social impact theory – the numbers. The bigger the number of people that are familiar with the brand,

Through effective marketing and communications campaigns, a company can get in front of many people, who are going to be interested in the brand, and therefore, share their interests with their family, friends, and coworkers.

Although the social impact is best when the influencer is of a higher status, and when the influencing statement is more immediate, brands can capitalize on the benefits of having many people talking about it, which is, in essence, word of mouth marketing.

However, to further develop a marketing and communications campaign based on the social impact theory, brands and corporations have to be proactive and flexible in their marketing campaigns.

Social Media Strategy

With several people going online and on social media platforms these days to connect with others, they also seek out the same resources to solve issues or find out more information about proposed solutions to their problems.

When a company offers a solution to its target audience, the social impact theory is best supported through user-generated content – in other words, testimonials and reviews created by other buyers.

Research has shown that shoppers tend to trust reviews and testimonials and the claims made in them a lot more than the company’s claims or the manufacturer of the product itself. This is why businesses should strive to generate this type of content from their buyers and highlight their reviews when potential leads are looking into a company’s offers.

Previous articleInfluencer Marketing Tactics for Success
Next articleB2B Lead Generation
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.