The Psychology of Social Proof
Social Proof or Social Influence is a common psychological trait, where people follow the actions of others in order to make a decision. It is one of the many factors that go into a person’s decision making, especially when it comes to investing money. For instance, take the example of product reviews. Over 61% of customers tend to read online reviews before making a buying decision, and these reviews are 12 times more trusted than the descriptions that come from the manufacturers themselves.
Marketers use this psychological phenomenon to their advantage. And, quite effectively at that.
Types of Social Proof
Did you know that psychologist Edward Thorndike coined the phrase “halo effect” precisely for such human behaviour? We often make decisions based on our biased impression of someone else. In the medieval times, saints were depicted with a halo around their head, making them seem as though they were basking in heavenly light.
When we perceive someone in a positive light, we have a positive predisposition about everything they say. In today’s times, consumers award halos to different types of people. These then become trusted sources of information and advice.
Celebrities: An Instagram post or a tweet by a popular celebrity, endorsing a product, can influence millions of people. Companies pay celebrities huge amounts to leverage their star power to influence the consumer.
Experts: An industry expert’s view of a product or service makes a big impression on the consumer’s mind. This is most commonly seen with technology products and services, including cryptocurrencies. The blockchain industry thrives on thought leaders and crypto influencers to propagate the uses of a coin or innovation.
Wisdom of the Crowd: When a large group of people start buying a product, people start mimicking their behaviour. This is often referred to as “herd mentality” but it certainly is a powerful thing.
Friends and Family: Over 82% of Americans seek product recommendations from friends and family, before making a buying decision. This is why brands look towards building positive word-of-mouth through rewards and incentives. This has a snowballing effect, popularising their products.
Certification: Industry and quality standards are important for the manufacturing sector. In the US, FDA approval of drugs and food items is considered mandatory. Similarly, blockchain projects publicise their compliance with existing regulations.
There are different ways in which all these points are used by marketers to persuade people to buy products and services.
Common Marketing Tactics that Use the Psychology of Social Proof
Have you ever wondered why Facebook notifies you when someone you follow likes a particular story or post? They are using the concept of Social Proof to get you to like and comment on those posts too. As a business, it’s important to keep the psychology of Social Proof in mind so that your landing pages, blog content, social media posts, product pages and other channels get good conversion rates.
Here are some tactics commonly used by marketers.
1. Get Reviews on Important Sites
Online reviews have a major impact on buying decisions. According to a consumer review survey by BrightLocal, 73% of consumers trust local businesses, based on positive user reviews. Moreover, consumers read at least 7 reviews before they come to a conclusion.
Yelp is the most popular example of this strategy. A crowd-sourced review forum, people visit the site to find interesting places to eat, shop and visit, based on user ratings and comments. Yelp also helps users to have their own profiles on the site, where they can interact with other users to find out more information. However, the site is not only meant for restaurants, as is commonly believed. Many local businesses are listed here. It is social proof at its core level.
If your website has many positive reviews on such sites, then add it to your landing pages to add credibility and authenticity.
2. Leverage the “Wisdom of the Crowd”
Presenting evidence that thousands of people have gone on the route that you want your consumers to take is a good way to convince them. This feeds into the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO) concept which is very much present in our markets today. The crypto industry, in particular, is driven by this phenomenon. FOMO is a kind of social anxiety that you are missing out on an opportunity that is bringing benefits to other people.
A common example of this strategy is the use of “Gated Content.” This is any content that you can see or use only after you subscribe or login to that particular site. This incentivises lead generation. You create great content and provide links to your site. A reader will get interested and want to know more about your product or service, and come to your site and subscribe. For example, Contentworks recently published an exclusive Blockchain eBook. It’s gated of course but contains plenty of teasers so highly competitive marketers feel compelled to download it. ASAP!
3. Influencer Marketing
Endorsements from celebrities and influencers are huge nowadays. An online poll by Thompson found that influencer marketing is becoming the fastest growing online customer-acquisition channel, ahead of email marketing and organic search. For every dollar spent on influencer marketing, businesses are making $6.50 in revenue. This is particularly effective on social media, where:
40% of the people have said that they have bought something online after seeing it endorsed by an influencer on Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, according to a joint study done by Twitter and analytics firm Annalect.
· Content shared by influencers earns 8 times higher engagement rates than the content shared by brands directly.
But it doesn’t have to be about celebs.
A brilliant example of B2B influencer marketing can be seen through Microsoft’s International Women’s Day campaign in collaboration with National Geographic’s travel photographers. Take a look at one of the 30 powerful images published on social media. Nat Geo’s Instagram platform encourages young women to take up professions in science and technology.
If you want to leverage the concept of Social Proof in your content, get in touch with Contentworks for a free content audit.