How often have you used Tripadvisor to help pick a restaurant?
Social proofing works! Whether it be somewhere you haven’t tried locally or trying to find a renowned restaurant when on holiday or travelling for work, we value a combination of a rating out of 5 and the number of reviews by complete strangers as validation.
Each of these reviews is a very basic example of social proof or social influence in action, social proof is almost built into us as it appeals to human nature. It is the concept that people will follow the actions of the masses. The basic principle is that if such a high number of people endorse a product or service it must be good and worth trying.
Social proof is not new!
In the 1950’s Solomon Asch, carried out a famous experiment designed to test how people react to social influences to conform and individuality of a test subject.
As consumers we now research products and services online before any substantial or meaningful purchase. As a business offering a product or service, online or offline, you will need to have considered the importance of social proof in your marketing strategy.
Social influence has become hugely significant with the increase in online shopping, this is due to the consumer losing the ability to physically touch a product or speak face to face with the service provider. This leads to consumers looking for reviews or feedback from other non biased sources such as Which? – who have become a recognisable source of trustworthy product information.
Social proofing works!
Further evidence of social proofing in action, over 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.
Providing a consistently good product or service will be one of the best business practices you could implement. Having positive reviews online when people search for your business mixed with personal recommendations from current and past customers will be invaluable. 77% of customers would be willing to leave reviews according to research carried out by Podium.
There are a number of types of social proof and only some may suit your business:
- Wisdom of friends – Everyone is more likely to believe someone they trust more than a salesman or review posted by a stranger.
- Expert social proof – Credible well known expert in the industry could be a blogger or successful business owner.
- Celebrity social proof – Celebrity endorsements are a staple of advertising and have been for over a century.
- Wisdom of the crowd – ‘Everyone’s doing it, it must be good’ or ‘the must have gift this Christmas’.