Social proof is a tendency for people to follow what others are doing. It’s sometimes referred to as the bandwagon effect.
People will naturally assume that if other people are doing something, there must be a good reason for it.
For example, people will choose to go to the bar with the long line up out the front, instead of the bar that looks nearly empty. Even if they know nothing else about the two bars. They will assume that the bar with the line up will be better.
It is a shortcut that people use (often subconsciously) for decision-making.
Social proof can be used in many ways in your marketing.
Social media platforms like Facebook create built-in social proof through likes, comments and followers. Higher engagement and followers will generate higher social proof.
Facebook users take notice when a post or ad has hundreds or thousands of likes on it.
Other ways to leverage social proof in your marketing include:
- Adding customer testimonials in your ad copy or on your website
- Including customer numbers or review numbers in the ad copy (eg. “Used by 94,000+ happy customers”)
- Use photos or videos of customers
- Celebrity endorsements
More Examples Of Social Proof
This post details how Kerwin Rae’s social media strategy feeds off the social proof from his Facebook video views.
The fourth example in this post shows how an author uses their Amazon book sales to generate social proof.
This article explains how this course creator uses social proof through testimonials and Facebook group member numbers to promote his e-com course.
The Swiped.co website contains a collection of sales letters containing social proof with notes on each of them.
More Persuasion Principles To Use In Marketing
Social proof is one of many persuasion principles that can be applied by marketers. It’s one of the six main principles discussed by Robert Cialdini in the book Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion.
The concept of social proof is powerful alone. But its power can be amplified when it’s combined with other persuasion principles.
Learn more about persuasion principles in the articles below.
The rule of reciprocity is another one of the six principles in Cialdini’s book. This article explains how reciprocity works and how you can use it in your marketing.
The authority bias is a persuasion principle closely related to social proof. Like with social proof, it explains another shortcut that people use for decision-making. This article describes a famous experiment relating to authority bias and provides examples of the principle.