In 2009, one guy in a crowd of leisurely concert-goers started to dance by himself. He was totally into it, but everyone else around him just kind of snickered and continued listening to the music. Then another guy joined his dance. Then another. Two minutes later, hundreds of people gathered around him, cheering and dancing with their hands up.
You can hear people at the end of this video asking, “How did he do that?”
The answer: Social proof.
Social proof is one of six influence principles identified by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, written in 1984. This book has made a direct impact on the way we market our businesses, especially in the realm of digital advertising.
Social proof is the idea that people will do what they see other people doing. As social creatures, it’s built into our nature to want to belong. When a new restaurant opens up in town and you see lots of people going there, you are going to be more likely to try it out. If an event pops up on Facebook and you see 15 of your friends are also interested or going, you’re more likely to want to clear your schedule and attend the event, too.
When we see other people—people we respect, admire, and value, especially—doing something, we want to be doing it, too. The Influencer movement on social media is rooted in the concept of social proof.
When you provide evidence that other people just like your buyer are doing business with your company, it builds trust in a way that helps persuade that buyer to take the next step toward working with you, too.
Social proof is at work in each of these tactics and has been proven to improve conversion time and time again. Here are several ways this principle can be put into practice in your business:
I am confident that if you incorporate even just one of these tactics into your marketing, you’ll begin to see improved
conversion rates. If you’d like help finding and shaping your business’s story using social proof and other principles of influence, we can help.
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