“Social proof, a term coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book, Influence, is also known as informational social influence. It describes a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.” (Wikipedia)
If your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump off too? Psychology says you would. Social Proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others to reflect the right behavior for certain situations.
In other words, we all view behaviors as correct in certain situations if others are engaging in that behavior. We tend to make judgements based on our impression of someone, otherwise known as the “halo effect” such as:
- Thinking experts are more knowledgeable than us.
- Purchasing products endorsed by celebrities because we aspire to look/act like them.
- Trusting user reviews because they are providing feedback based on their personal use.
There are 6 types of Social Proof used in digital marketing, including:
- Customer -Customers are people who have used the products or services. So, based on their previous, actual experience they know more than you do, thus you trust their recommendation. They have “been there and done that” and we give that value.
Using testimonials, reviews, positive or comments on Social Media will help your efforts to encourage others to use your services/purchase your products. Share these via Social Updates, include on your website, link to review sites in emails or other online avenues. Showcasing positive experiences from previous customers gives your business Social Proof.
- Expert – An expert is someone in your industry provides recommendations of your products or services associated with your business. Because these experts tend to have credibility in your specific industry and are recognized by others as an expert, this gives your business Social Proof.
Sharing an article or study from an expert regarding your products/services on Social Media, including links to studies in your blogs, or writing your own blog based on an expert’s findings all give your business Social Proof.
- Wisdom of the Crowd – This is when a large group of people are shown to be endorsing your business, products/services, etc. Even though we want to be individuals, we all tend to “follow the crowd.”
Take advantage of this mentality by building up your following on Social Media, others will see the crowd of followers and take their lead to follow your business too, because several thousand people can’t be wrong!
- Friends – We all see approval. When we see our friends approve of a product or service, we take their word for it.
A common update on Social Media is requesting recommendations from friends, in fact Facebook provides an update specifically to “Ask for Recommendations.” Get your business active on Facebook and take advantage of these type of requests.
- Certification – Being given the “stamp of approval” by an authoritative figure in your industry. Examples could include certifications from Angie’s List as a recommended service provider, or the verification checks Facebook and Twitter give to businesses and individuals.
Having some sort of certification showing that your business is verified and recognized lends credibility. Get the verification checks from Social Sites that offer them, share your recognition from other reputable sites, let people know your business is real and it is respected.
- Celebrity/Influencers – If you are a big enough business with a large budget you may be able to hire a celebrity to recommend your products or services. An influencer doesn’t necessarily need to be “famous” per se, but people with a large enough following who can share the benefits of your products or services to their followers will work too.
Just having a celebrity or influencer with a large following and who are trustworthy to share your products/services will help to get the word out and give your business more credibility and Social Proof.