Imagine you are walking past two cafés wanting to buy a cup of coffee. One café looks really nice but has no customers. The other café looks a bit shabby but is overflowing with people.
Which one would you feel more comfortable buying your coffee from?
Even though the coffee from the busy café may be awful compared to the empty café next door, nine times out of ten people will follow the crowd. Welcome to Social Proof!
Now before you roll your eyes about ‘another’ marketing term, when it comes to Social Proof, you may find you are actually already doing it without even realising.
So what is this Social Proof? According to our friends at Wikipedia Social Proof is defined as:
“Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”
Sounds impressive doesn’t it?
Now allow us to translate:
Social Proof is the overwhelming need for (most of) us to ‘follow the crowd’ and it also works on the theory of ‘safety in numbers.’ That is, if everyone is doing it, it must be the right thing to do. Digital media has also assisted with contributing to Social Proof from the now infamous FOMO or “Fear Of Missing Out”.
When it comes to business, Social Proof is most powerful when it is demonstrated to others from influences outside of your business, namely from your clients or followers and can relayed in a variety of ways including :
Testimonials on your website.
Social media followers using your product/service and tagging your business.
Reviews on social platforms such as Google Plus and Facebook.
Reviews on exterior platforms such as Amazon and directories.
Affiliation with well recognised and popular brands.
There is the dark side of social proof too such as a tidal wave of bad reviews or social media posts sweep through your business – but let’s keep this positive for today.
Social proof is proof that the ‘social’ part of society (ie: those who like to voice their opinions and ideas) are interested in your brand, which inadvertently encourages others to jump on board and support your business.
It is human nature to seek reinforcement that we are making the right decision, with a lot of people needing constant affirmation from others. In this age of social media in particular, people are actually ‘branding’ themselves by the posts they make, the links they share and the pages they follow, which is why your brand must engage and encourage interaction.