As social beings, humans always look for acceptance and assurance. As a key player in the market, buyers or consumers look for proof before making a decision.
The Social Proof Theory, popularized by psychologist Robert Cialdini, maintains that a person who does not know what the proper behavior for a certain situation is, will look to other people to imitate what they are doing and to provide guidance for his actions. (psychologynoteshq.com)
Translating it to business, social proof is something that makes a potential customer finalize his/her buying decision by looking at others’ experiences. Social proof is usually in the form of testimonials, case studies, customer reviews, and social shares.
Did you know that 77% of all online customers read reviews before making a purchase? It just proved that no matter how good the product or service is, people still need others to try it out and give feedback so they can give their own judgment and decide.
Social proof can make or break your business
In this information era, there are various ways people can utilize to verify if an idea is genuine. That is why this generation is hungry for genuineness. And as long as a certain product does not have a review yet from a real customer, there’s little to no chance that a customer will make a purchase.
That’s how social proof works. Once a customer saw a good review, he/she will probably do the same thing.
But the same goes if it’s negative. Since the customers are now more free to express their opinions and insights, they are now more powerful. If the review is negative, this proof will backfire to the company and this will spread like wildfire.
Most of the time, it’s not the quality service that matters (indirectly) but the volume of positive reviews, especially for new customers.
Now, the pressure is on the seller side.
Also, it works by impulse
Do you remember the last time you see a fast-food chain or a new restaurant with a long queue?
People, again as a social being, are easily intrigued by this. Their common instinct is that the fast-food chain or the new restaurant offers good food or service that people wouldn’t care about waiting in the queue.
It will magnet more people because, at the back of their minds, there must be something interesting or good with it. Backed with that assurance, they will probably go with the flow with the others.
Of course, they will do the same thing if it is recommended by their relatives, peers and such. A research conducted by BrightLocal called Local Consumer Review Survey 2018 says that 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online social proof reviews as long as recommendations are from someone who is close to them.
They are all over YouTube. Influencers are effective in giving social proof because people; see that they actually use the product, follow its journey and listen to their insights. It is through documenting everything through vlogs (which is now a thing.)
They see genuineness. The fact is that people believe more on YouTube personalities/vlogger more than celebrity endorsers because they are not even sure that behind those billboards and promotional materials are celebrities actually using the product.
Becoming the expert
One technique is also by establishing yourself as an expert in a particular niche. Being an expert means having years of experience or pioneering a new idea.
The opinion of the experts has always been an effective social proof, and it has been used in so many advertisements nowadays. Remember the lines “Experts say that…” or “Dermatologically tested or recommended” or “Applauded by the Critics” and so on.
In a world where only a minority wants to be a leader or try something new, people always look for other members of the community’s assurance or proof before they try it themselves. It is fair, indeed. No one wants to regret a decision especially if this decision is crucial for one’s economic health.