Persuasion & Influence for Modern Marketers – #3 Social Proof

The Social Media Spectrum

We are social creatures.  All we need for proof is to look at the incredible growth of social media titans Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like.  One aspect of being a social creature involves continuous monitoring and evaluation of what our fellow human creatures are doing.  Looking at what peers or colleagues do or say is especially important and can be quite persuasive.  There have been many psychological experiments published in respected journals which demonstrate the validity of ‘Social Proof’ as a strong principle of influence.  We look for and, in fact, rely on our peers for cues on what we should think, what we should do and how we should act.

How could this be applied by the Modern Marketer?  One very common marketing tactic that most of us use already is the customer testimonial in order to influence those ideal prospects to become customers too.  Another common tactic that uses social proof is making a statement that people in a group where the ideal prospect resides have already decided to use whatever it is you are marketing.

Need more examples, just look at the power of Yelp in how it influences you to try or not try a new restaurant.  Another powerful example is the persuasive power of consumer reviews on sites like Amazon or Newegg.

I was driving through Boston this past week and noticed a huge sign on one of the parking garages that said “Celtics fans park here”.  A good example of using social proof to influence basketball game attendees where to park.  Event parking in Boston is big business with large sums of money at stake.

One final note,  the principle of social proof works best when the influence comes for peers or those that the target group can relate to.  There is another principle of influence called ‘Authority’ which is the sister to social proof and which we will discuss in the next blog post.


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