You know the feeling when you are in an unfamiliar situation or environment and you don’t know quite what to do. Inevitably, you look around at the other people to determine the right course of action or behavior. You probably do this at least once a day, if not more, and most likely you don’t even realize this psychological phenomenon has a technical name: “social proof” or “ informational social influence”.
There are 3 mechanisms that contribute to the social proof phenomenon:
There are a few real world examples that social proof can help in commerce. Theatres sometimes have planted audience members; the “plants” are given directions when to clap or to give a standing ovation. The general audience usually follows the planted audience members’ lead as a sign of the performance quality. Social proof is also very common in social media. A user of a social network is perceived to be more trustworthy and reputable when they have millions of followers than a user who only has a few thousand followers. In business social proof is used extensively in the marketing and sales of products to consumers.
You can see how social proof can easily affect a great number of people. How can you harness this phenomenon for your own business? Now-a-days, the medium for social proof would be the internet/social media as it has such an incredible reach/audience. Here are some effective social proof strategies you can use for your business.
Testimonials: due to the objectivity of testimonials, someone not involved with your company does the talking; it seems to increase the testimonial credibility. Learn more about the power of testimonials at http://www.onhold.on.ca/the-power-of-testimonials/.
Ratings and Reviews: ratings use a scoring system, most commonly a 5-star rating system. It’s a quick way for some to see how good a product/service is and how many people have rated and reviewed it.
Influencer Endorsements: having a well-known person, that your audience respects, give you an endorsement gives your brand more credibility. The endorsement should be displayed where it will have a large reach (e.g., your website).
Media Logos: fall into the “as seen in” media showcase. When well known news media outlets feature, review or mention your products make sure you get their logos to display on your website.
Subscriber Counts: displays your number of subscribers; that helps people feel comfortable joining the crowd that knows your business.
As you can see it can be very easy and helpful to start planning on using social proof when developing your marketing strategies for your company.
Photo source: interaction-design.org, optimizedude.com, optinmonster.com, mediamarketingspotlight.com, ekmpowershop.com, pinterest.com