What is Social Proof?
Have you ever walked past an empty restaurant only to walk into one that is jammed with people? Why didn’t you go into the restaurant where there were no lineups, and you could easily get a table? The reason is that you were likely influenced by social proof. As the highly successful real estate mogul and tv star, Barbara Corcoran once said on NBC’s TV show Shark Tank, ‘Everybody wants what everybody wants”. Social proof is when people are influenced by the actions and buying decisions of others.
Why is Understanding Social Proof Important?
Understanding social proof is important if you want to understand your own buying habits and those of the people around you. If you are a business owner you’ll want to get out ahead of the online reviews. It’s now estimated that 2/3 of today’s consumer buying habits are influenced by online reviews and social media influencers.
Persuasion Without Knowing It
Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D. in his blockbuster, best-selling business audiobook, Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion (2021) cites an example of how automotive sales were driven by a dealership that advertised for new sales staff. When consumers saw the ads they thought the dealership needed more sales staff because everyone in town was buying cars there. The sales manager identified that sales rose dramatically each time the dealership advertised for more sales staff. This is an example of social proof where consumers didn’t know they were being persuaded but were influenced by what they perceived as social proof.
Using Social Proof to Boost Business
Whether you are an established business owner or are just starting one up, you can use social proof to bolster sales and revenue. You can begin by asking your favorite customers to provide you with reviews on social media. It’s always best if you can get your customers to describe a positive experience they had with your business. Prospective customers will want to learn about your customer’s interaction with your products, services, and staff so encourage them to go into detail about how your business has added value to their lives.
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology & Business Blogger
Vancouver, BC, Canada