SCARF: The Powerful Acronym for Building Engagement & Infuence

David Rock, A neuroscientist by trade, filtered through countless studies to try and determine how to influence others and build engagement. He determined that it all boils down to a simple acronym: SCARF. Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness & Fairness, according to Rock, play a key role in determining whether you view something as friend or foe. In essence, your brain uses the SCARF variables as an organizing principle. Those things that increase Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness put a person into what Rock calls a “Maximize Reward State of Mind.” Rock goes on to say that this state of mind is synonymous with engagement. On the flip side,  all things that decrease the SCARF variables produce a Danger response which drives down engagement.
David Rock’s model was really pointed at leaders and managers of organizations. However, the SCARF model is relevant for anyone or any company looking to build engagement– this includes those in social media marketing. Key questions to ask are:
  1. How can I increase SCARF variables to build engagement in my marketing campaign?
  2. What role does status play? ie. Foursquare badges, Facebook likes, RTs. How can my marketing campaign dole out status to my followers–thereby increasing engagement?
  3. How can I decrease ambiguity in relation to why I am a member of X or Y community? Am I here only to sell or is there another higher purpose?
  4. People in large online communities have autonomy to choose a course of action. If you or your campaign are irrelevant you get tuned out. How can your campaign stay relevant and connected to the community?
  5. How can I increase relatedness between my brand & community to be seen as authentic? What makes me “part of the gang”?
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