You’re strolling around the mall. All of a sudden you see a line building up. It’s coming from a stall. You see people walking away from the queue holding food that looks good. Doesn’t it spark interest?
Even if you choose not to fall in line, chances are you’ve taken note of that brand. This is because of “social proof.”
Coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini back in his 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social proof is also known “informational social influence.” Simply put, it is when people, unaware of what to do, look to others and copy their actions.
In a way, it is indirect advice.
This need to base one’s actions on others’ stems from the inherent human need to connect and belong. “FOMO,” herd mentality, trends—all these stem from social proof.
As marketers, you can tap into this behavior when shaping your brand’s messaging and campaigns.
Look at how people buy. Many brands are built on mass recognition.
Such brands earned their status of being “good” because enough people have purchased their product or service and said it is so, causing others to follow suit.
In the age of the internet, social proof is no longer contained to physical spaces. We now have more than just long lines of people to tell us what a “good buy” is.
People can now go online and find unboxing videos, user-generated photos, and even get into lengthy reviews of a product before buying it.
The challenge now is maximizing your brand's social proof. Here are some tips:
Influencer marketing can tap into people’s need for validation.
Influencers—whether their posts are sponsored or organic—at the end of the day are people who try out products. This is what a marketer should remember when tapping their services.
People look to influencers because they’ve created relationships with their audience. The key to influencer marketing is to hinge your campaign on the influencer’s authenticity.
So, instead of merely asking influencers to mention your brand, specifically ask them to review your product or service. Ask them to share their thoughts and to be transparent.
Tying back to authenticity, reviews by actual customers are part of the best examples of social proof on the internet.
For example, if you have an e-commerce site, provide an area for your customers to write reviews. Remind them to do so through pop-ups or e-mails. You may even offer incentives to the first few to write a review.
Make it relevant, make it a necessity to write reviews. This way you get to use natural social proof to your advantage.
If you don’t have an e-commerce site, or you don’t even have your own website yet, utilize reviews on social media. Listen to real-time posts by searching your brand and hunting down hashtags relevant to you.
Reposting or simply replying to these posts give an interactive experience to users, and may even encourage them to not only be users of your brand but to be advocates as well.
Of course, there will be bad reviews and negative comments from time to time. Don’t worry, this is something you can also use to your advantage.
As much as reviews are great, people can be very visual creatures. It’s best to show photos or even videos of users using your product, to illustrate how real their testimonial is.
This is also what makes real-time posts on social very helpful to your brand.
With the original posters’ permissions, you can curate them on social media. Share them via Instagram posts and stories. You can even make an album of positive feedback on Facebook.
This is like your long lines online. Aside from learning more about your brand, the more people share your content, the more people will be intrigued about what it is.
Wouldn’t you believe an article more if its social share counter wrote “1,000” instead of “10”? Think about it.
As technology evolves, some things stay the same. Social proof is evidence of that.
As marketers, it’s easy to get excited with all the possibilities these days. But we should remember that the best marketing, at its core, is still based on very human insight and behavior.