5 Tips for Using Triggers to Make People Share

5 Tips for Using Triggers to Make People Share 4 min read

Let me begin by asking you few simple questions — What company can save you 15% or more on your care insurance? When you think of Friday, what song do you think of? When you think of peanut butter, what other thing comes to mind? You probably guessed it: Geico, Rebecca Black’s Friday video and Jelly.


The reason you’re likely to jump to the immediate answer is the result of triggers. Triggers are the sights, sounds and other stimuli that remind us of related products and ideas1. They affect our everyday behaviors and bind us to brands.


Using triggers to make people share is something that major brands have been doing for ages. They are spread some sixteen times a day in the various conversations you have with other people2. These negative, or positive, conversations  spread by word of mouth — a method a brand can’t always influence when you’re not in front of their advertising.


Now for the fun part — how do you use triggers to keep people talking about your brand offline?


1.) Ask people to share

Triggers are spread in two ways: ongoing word of mouth and immediate word of mouth


With ongoing word of mouth, the conversation spans weeks, months or years. Think about Facebook for instance. This conversation isn’t time-dependent so it continues to be a part of offline conversations in an ongoing cycle. It’s trigger is powerful, in part, because of this fact. Facebook has ingrained itself into social circles and the sharing of collective experiences. Make sure there is continuous pressure to share your content…(I know we definitely appreciate it :))


Conversely, with immediate word of mouth the conversation occurs as a result of an experience or new information. It’s important in this case, to ask people to share their experience while it is still fresh in their mind. Think about when you get off a rollercoaster and then they try to sell you a photo where you look absolutely terrified. You’re more likely to buy it immediately after your experience. Sharing content is the same way. If something is time dependent make sure the audience is given the ability to share it before it becomes irrelevant.


2.) Trigger by environment

Did you know that where people vote actually influences how they vote? People voting at schools are more likely to increase school funding. Those voting at a church may be more likely to vote for stem cell research.


If you can influence the environment, then you can influence how people use your trigger. For instance — a company pushing a french product could play french music to influence patrons to buy more french items.


In all instances, you will need to determine what your version of french music will be. How will you activate the trigger that you’ve set up?


3.) Choose a relevant trigger

Let’s for a moment compare the two ad campaigns from GEICO and Budwieser. GEICO’s ad “It’s so easy a caveman can do it” vs the Budweiser “Wassup?” commercials. Watch both of these two commercials below:



In everyday life you don’t see many cavemen do you? (I’d hope). If you think about it there isn’t a relevant trigger to activate that advertisement. Now think about when you get a phone call…”Wassssup?” might apply. It has a far more valid and relevant trigger.


Make sure your brand follows the latter.


4.) Make use of existing triggers

This is especially helpful if you have a product, service or idea that doesn’t necessarily have a trigger that occurs in everyday life.

If you can find a trigger that applies, be sure to use it to remind people that you’re there too.


5.) Keep people talking

To borrow a phrase from researcher Jonah Berger — “Top of mind means tip of tongue”.

Keep your audience talking about your product, service or idea. This extension of ongoing word of mouth (mentioned above) can be particularly effective for any brand. While immediate word of mouth may push a more “viral” agenda — brands who keep people talking can eclipse brands who go for a more immediate effect.



This article is part of our series of Why People Share Your Content.


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