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Marketing Tactics: The influence of Social Proof

For this post I will be discussing another “weapon of influence”. If you enjoyed reading my previous post: Marketing Tactics: The Persuasion of Scarcity then you will likely enjoy this post as well.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is described as: “the positive influence created when a person finds out that others are doing something.” OR in other words, people tend to respond more positively towards an influence attempt, when they see others that are also responding to that attempt.

The Social Proof Tactic is so Effective Because:

This is effective, because we look to others to see what is the right thing to do. So the more people that are doing something, the more likely we are to consider that what they are doing is the right thing to do. Or perhaps, what they are doing is acceptable.

Secondly, people seem to assume that if a large number of people are doing something, then it is likely that they know something that we don’t know, and we believe that we should follow what they are doing.

  • We don’t want to feel left out

  • We want to fit in

  • We don’t want to seem out of place or embarrass ourselves

For social proof to be most effective, the number of people engaging in the behavior must be large. Here is an info-graphic about social proof.

Do you remember at a young age, when you wanted to do something all your friends were doing, and your parents wouldn’t allow you and so they would say “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you too?” This idea is social proof. Kids falling prey to peer pressure, is social proof. Of course, young kids are not the only ones that fall prey to peer pressure. The interesting thing is that social proof can just as easily work the other way around. Social proof can also cause you to NOT take action.

This add demonstrates the power of social proof. Click the photo to view the video:

The full article about this ad campaign:Would You Act If You Were in Imminent Danger?

When you are on Instagram, and an account has thousands of followers, are you more likely to follow them as well?

The answer is YES!

Because.. They must have good photos, and they must be worth the follow, if they have so many followers!? Right?!

So whats this got to do with Marketing?

  • Show consumers that there is a high popularity and demand for your product(s) and service(s)

  • Use real salesnumbers to be more effective.

  • Targeting people’s fears that they would be left out if they don’t use a product or purchase a service

  • Providing user reviews

  • Using social norms to reinforce desired behavior (Social Norms: Ex. sending flowers when someone is ill, sending thank you notes after receiving wedding gifts, etc.)

More marketing tips using social proof: “5 ways You Can Add Social Proof to Your Landing Pages”

Keep in mind: DO NOT focus the message on the behavior that you want people to avoid. As Cialdini expresses, “…by using negative social proof as part of a rallying cry, they might be inadvertently focusing the audience on the prevalence, rather than the undesirability of that behavior(pg 21).”

As an Example, the poster on the right, is trying to discourage smoking, and encourage people to stop smoking. By highlighting that more people don’t stop smoking, it may unintentionally cause the opposite reaction of what they were trying to encourage. People may think: “well if all those people don’t quit, why should I?”

If you’d like to get into further detail of Social Proof, and the other weapons of influence, you can read Robert Cialdini’s book: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”.

Or for an even faster read, his book: “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive”

Or just for a more detailed description, these two webpage go into more detail:

Thank you so much for reading!

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