Get With the Flow to Create Inbound Marketing People Will Love

Get With the Flow to Create Inbound Marketing People Will Love:from Business 2 Community 
flowchartWe’ve all done it. You’re at work, and you jump on Twitter to quickly post a few tweets and check if you’ve received any mentions or direct messages. Of course, once you’re there, you see a snarky tweet about the latest live television slip-up or an interesting article, and you just have to retweet it. Next thing you know, you’ve been on Twitter for thirty minutes and you didn’t even realize it.
Twitter and other social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest loves this kind of behavior. These sites’ addictiveness and constant flow of creativity is what has made them grow into what they are. It’s exactly the kind of thing that job supervisors hate. Nobody wants their employed staff tweeting about Saturday Night Live’s latest prank when they should be managing the company’s social media presence. And yet, roaming Internet behavior like the kind that happens on Twitter is exactly what businesses have been battling since the mid-1990s.

What Is Flow Experience?

Employees call it “multi-tasking.” Bosses call it “being distracted.” Psychologists call it “flow experience.” In the early 1980s, a psychologist named Csikszentmihalyi, proposed the idea of flow experience as what happens when you’re doing an intrinsically enjoyable task that causes you to lose some level of self-consciousness and to repeat the task almost continuously (Novak & Hoffman, 2000). In essence, you fall into a flow that you don’t easily leave.
Now, I am no psychology major, but recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time imitating how psychologists think. Outside of my internship at Weidert, I’m working on a college research project about human-computer interaction and how flow experience works on the Web. It turns out that Twitter isn’t the only thing that brings people to the state of flow experience. In fact, any attractive website, game, novel, or activity can lead someone to experience flow. You’ve probably even felt flow experience doing menial activities like mowing the lawn—there’s something about continuously making paths of mowed grass that feels almost meditative and enjoyable—that’s a form of flow experience.

How Flow Experience Relates to Inbound Marketing

Like many psychologists and market researchers, I think that this theory of flow has huge applications for Inbound Marketing. Numerous studies have already suggested that websites optimized for flow have a better chance of getting users to return to their sites, and websites that consumers rate as boring or unusable often lose following. Flow experience is the part of Inbound Marketing focused on drawing people in. All the content creation, media production, and calls-to-action that marketers employ are really based on helping people experience flow. If you learn more about flow experience, you might just make your marketing strategies work better.
It’s clear from psychological research that cultivating flow is not always easy. In fact, nobody knows for sure what makes one activity more or less likely to cause a person to feel flow experience than another. However, without even knowing what flow experience is, more and more companies are producing websites that maximize flow experience through the techniques of Inbound Marketing. Here’s a few key points to pay attention to.
1. Aesthetic appeal. This might seem like a no brainer. Of course, a website should look good in order for people to reach flow. However, it’s not always clear what aesthetics work best. For example, which is more likely to produce flow for people: pictures or text? Even more specifically, text or icons? These are questions for psychological studies with large human samples. However, there are ways for you to find out what works for yourself. One way is to look at websites that cause you to feel flow. Check out the blogs where you’re willing to read past the typical entry length. Find the websites where you can easily view pages upon pages of products. Even try looking at corporate websites that set the trends in website design (i.e. Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.).
2. Simple interactivity. One of the hallmarks of the Internet is that it made reading a much more interactive task than ever before. Wikipedia is a great example of this. Overall, the site uses very few pictures. Instead, there are long articles filled with an almost-excessive number of hyperlinks. It’s a simple way of connecting knowledge that works. In all its simplicity, many Wikipedia users have become accustomed to the addictive nature of the website. There are not only articles on just about everything, but all that knowledge is easily accessible and connected. Blogs and websites that allow such interactivity can harness a similar type of flow experience for people.
3. Connected content. This piece of flow experience fits well into most models of Inbound Marketing. When a company posts a blog or creates a new page, it should not stand on its own. That can immediately cut off flow experience. Instead, everything should connect together. That’s where calls-to-action come into play. The function of flow experience in terms of marketing is essentially the same as drawing leads into a sales funnel. If calls-to-action connect content pieces together, people are going to feel more flow experience and their overall impression of your site is going to be positive. That makes it more likely that they will come back and you can potentially make a sale.


Flow experience is one of the psychological concepts that Inbound Marketing really draws on. It’s not about manipulating people’s psychology or changing their behavior. It’s about shaping your strategy to fit people’s natural online inclinations. All the Inbound Marketing catchphrases like sales funnel, branding, and content marketing refer to a very similar process for human beings–getting people to enjoy content so that marketing feels like a natural online interaction. If you maximize your Inbound Marketing strategy to fit human’s psychology of flow experience, you might just start producing content a little better and converting leads a little faster.

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