This is the second in a series of blog posts on behavioral convergence. Please click here to visit the first blog post in the series.

What makes social games like Candy Crush so sticky? Why are social trading (or copy trading) networks like Sirix Social so popular in the financial services market?  When did we start using social media as a main source of knowledge?

With the advent of the internet, when looking for specialized services like those of a gardener or a babysitter, we have developed a general trend towards asking for recommendations from our peers. It seems that now there are groups catering to everything springing up on our social media channels. These can span from loose confederations of people linked by real world relationships or locale, to hyper-specific associations centered on a narrow niche.

At the same time we see social entertainment turning consumer trends into multi-million dollar businesses. In 2013, eyebrows raised when social gaming leader Zinga paid $183 million for Draw Something, a simple social drawing game based on Pictionary. Zinga themselves amassed their capital through social media based games such as a social Poker game for virtual chips, and Farmville, in which users ran a virtual farm with the help of their network of friends. Farmville gave rise to a whole new set of user behaviors. Incredibly, there were people who woke up at 3 a.m. to water a virtual field in order to get a virtual reward. Then there was the rise of “Add Me” groups, where strangers solicited other strangers to become friends based on gaining benefits from having a larger network on the game.

Social Trading (or copy trading) networks, like Sirix Social, have also seen a major boost in recent times. The data from Sirix Social alone shows month on month increases in numbers of users, along with numbers of positions opened and closed based on copying another trader. Moreover, it can be seen that financial traders are now analyzing other traders, as they would have done previously with the financial markets, and using social trading profiles to create a portfolio of traders to copy rather than a portfolio of instruments.

Social convergence plays to our most basic instincts, driving our behaviors and rewarding our psyches. Our most prevalent trait as a species is peer influence. Even before the advent of social media, we looked for others to tell us when we were doing the right thing. We would ask parents, siblings, neighbors, and mentors – in fact, almost anyone. We read consumer magazines and looked for recommendations and awards. The fundamental reassurance of trust and the fact that millions of people like you chose the same goods and services drives brand loyalty. While there have always been early adapters, even they seek peer support, in the form of like-minded people who support their choices and provide them with recognition as trend-setters.

The simplistic conclusion is to include these triggers indiscriminately in your messaging on marketing, sales and retention – but beware, consumers are smarter than ever. Through internet research and online communities, they have the power of product knowledge gained through research. All-encompassing brand loyalty is now a thing of the past. You need to win your customers with honesty, and you will need to build your case upon facts. Protecting and boosting your reputation is key to your success.

In part three of our continuing series on convergence, we will explore our need to be led and challenged before moving on in part four to practical applications of the principles we have discussed.