How often have you been influenced by those around you? You have probably experienced this since you were young. We know that this is not uncommon to be influenced by others. As humans we are wired to learn from others. We want to fit in with society and therefore are easily persuaded to conform to the actions of others.
Are you familiar with the idea of social proof? Social proof is the concept where people are influenced by the actions of others. Social proof is commonly referred to as ‘informational social influence.’ In an unfamiliar situation, we learn from others by watching to see how they behave. There is an assumption that those actions performed by others are reflective on the “correct” behavior. No one likes to be the first one to do something. We want to make sure there is minimal risk involved. If it seems safe, we will proceed.
One personal example of social proof occurred while I was attended a concert with my older sister many years ago. I can recall standing in a long line for the women’s bathroom. This is no surprise to many of you as it is generally the case when there are crowds. There was virtually no line for the men’s restroom. My sister and I discussed whether we should just sneak into the men’s restroom instead of waiting. We watched one woman go into the men’s restroom just moments before. We decided to go for it. After we snuck out of the men’s restroom, many other women joined. However, they weren’t as successful because the security guards in the area caught on. Since that summer concert, security guards stand around watching to make sure everyone goes into the appropriate restroom.
Another example of social proof in action deals with restaurants. Imagine you are looking for a place to eat dinner in an unfamiliar city. You come across a couple restaurants. One restaurant is gushing with people out the door. The other has one or two people walking in. You will probably be the most interested in the restaurant with the large crowd because if that many people are there, it must be amazing. Right?
Social proof is a marketing tactic that can easily help apprehensive customers make a decision. It is a great way to influence people. The concept of social proof explains that people are likely to do business with you if there are indicators that other people are doing business with you. It proves that others have trusted working with you before.
Types of Social Proof
Wisdom of Crowds
This type of social proof is the approval of a group of people. Wisdom of the crowd speaks about the popularity of the product or service a brand offers because it shows that thousands or millions that have become involved. Some of the common examples of this are, “X amount of people have already bought this,” X number served, best sellers, or most popular.
There is also proof with social media such as the number of subscribers or followers you have. This shows that people are committed to following your brand.
Celebrity & Expert Endorsements
Influencers can boost your social proof because they already have authority with audiences. People trust those with a good reputation or those that are an expert in a particular field. Some influencers seem to turn anything they touch into gold, regardless of the product.
Testimonials show positive results with a product or service. It is proof that real people have used a service and liked it enough to tell others about it. It provides reassurance to others. If you decide to use testimonials it is best to use real pictures of the customer. No more stock photos! A smiling customer with a testimonial is highly suggested. You should avoid using testimonials that only say you had great service. They should provide more detail. Additionally, make sure your testimonials go with your target audience and what they really want and need. Testimonials should be relevant to your audience in order for them to be successful.
Are you one of those customers that look at product reviews before making a purchase? People are heavily influenced by product reviews. They want to know if others have liked the product before they consider purchasing. Many ecommerce sites allow customers to make reviews on purchased products. On websites such as Amazon, you will see a 5-star rating system. Customers can rate a product and can leave a detailed review.
Companies also utilize badges or logos. These symbols act as an endorsement for your brand. If you saw a badge on an item that was a best seller, you would probably be more interested in learning more. Badges are also a way to add trust with a product or service.
Wisdom of Friends
We trust our friends’ opinions and recommendations more than strangers. Social media has provided ways for you to view your friends’ recommendations of different brands. For example, Facebook allows you to see what brand pages your friends have liked. Another example online is with Tripadvisor.com. TripAdvisor allows you to connect to Facebook so you can see the places your friends on have visited, or reviewed different restaurants, hotels, and flights.
Social proof as a marketing strategy can help provide assurance to customers with the products and services your brand sells. There are many types of social proof your business can utilize to help customers make decisions and ultimately influence them to make a purchase.
What types of social proof do you use?