Confirmation Bias in the Social Media Age

We all have a desire to be right.

Because we have that desire, we will continually look for and give weight to information that supports our beliefs and ignore information that goes against our beliefs.

This natural tendency to seek supporting evidence of our beliefs is called confirmation bias.

The Mind-set as the Mother of All Biases

As we acquire knowledge over time, we develop strong beliefs on a subject – all of the bits and pieces of information gathered over time create a certain mind-set. The mind-set is a result of all of our different biases towards a certain subject.

 

Confirmation Bias and Social Media

Since a mind-set is created by the bits and pieces of information over time, social media has become a powerful force in the area of confirmation bias. There is a vast, 24/7 stream of data and information just a mouse click or touch screen away.

For instance, when certain ‘news’ is reported across social media channels and that news is aligned with an individual’s mind-set, they will immediately see that information as validation of their viewpoint – even if the news turns out to be false. There are many different extremes of news that are shared across social media, but confirmation bias will drive a person to only seek and agree with that info that aligns with their beliefs or mind-set.

 

The Salesman’s Mind-set in the Great “Social Selling vs. Old School Selling” Debate

You can’t go more than 30 minutes in the sales world without reading about the battle between Old School (Cold Calling) sales pros and Social Selling (Cold Calling is Dead) pros. Each one has valid points about the sales process and how to meet with quota crushing success.

Each person’s bias will be determined by the “school” of sales they were brought up in. Somebody brought up in the kick-the-doors-down/smile-and-dial school of sales will immediately look to confirm why their way of sales is better than the “new” way.

Each time a new appointment is set or an account is closed by old school methods, the proponent of old schools sales has validated his/her bias that their way is the best way that works. There is no reason to seek out anything else because their methods are what works and have worked for years.

Conversely, a social selling supporter will look at the metrics that tell him how his funnel has been filled by inbound marketing, Twitter retweets, Facebook posting, and LinkedIn shares. They will look to the new client they first connected with over LinkedIn, communicated and engaged with until they found commonality and the prospect saw the value in the salesman and the service that they eventually bought. That salespersons confirmation bias will have them use those numbers to prove that their method is the best way to drive sales.

 

Authority Drives Confirmation Bias

Where someone has authority, they will create a confirmation bias over others. If you take somebody who is an authority and they are pushing social selling as the new, better way to do sales then it will translate into confirmation bias for those with the mind-set that social selling is the best way to sell, and every time they hear “social selling” they will immediately be biased towards that bit of information.

The same goes for an Old School authority that pushes new cold calling strategies, canvassing techniques and new ways to get past the gatekeeper. Somebody who already has the Old School mind-set will have a cognitive bias towards that type of information and turn a deaf ear to the Social Selling advocates.

 

Don’t Let Your Mind-set Mess Up Your Sales Game

The modern salesperson may have their biases towards Old School or Social Selling methodologies, but the most successful salespeople will be the ones that are able to recognize their bias and not outright reject opposing views – they must seek out alternative views, take what they can use and leave the rest. The modern salesperson should utilize ALL of the tools at his disposal – whether it’s cold calling and dialing for dollars or learning how to set up automated sales funnels and leveraging social media. The best salesmen are adaptable.

Be adaptable. Use the tools at your disposal. Close sales. Repeat.

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