Feb 14, 2020
Social proof was introduced by
Robert Cialdini in his book Influence. It’s one of the six
principles of persuasion (accompanied by reciprocity, scarcity,
authority, consistency, and liking). I talked about social proof in
last week's episode on Peloton. I talked about the infamous ad that
made Peloton have a dramatic drop in market value, but I also
talked about all of the things they were doing right and how they
were using availability, priming, stacking and bundling offers,
money back guarantees, reciprocity, choice architecture, herding
and…of course…social proof.
I’ve heard from many of you who
are actually considering getting a Peloton after that episode. That
wasn’t my intention, but something I love to hear because we have
been so happy with ours (and it is an example of the third type of
social proof - users). Herding and social proof are closely
related. When social proof is present, we are more likely to herd.
We also look for social proof because it helps us validate our
decisions. I’ll talk about the six types of social proof which are
expert, celebrity, user, wisdom of the crowd, wisdom of friends,
and certification. I’ll show how our biased brains are susceptible
to social proof, ways it shows up, and how easily it can be
implemented in any business – and why it is important to
- [02:28] Social proof is closely
related to herding.
- [02:39] The concept of social
proof was first introduced by Robert Cialdini. Cialdini’s 1984
book Influence: The
Psychology of Persuasion introduced the concept of social proof as one
of the six principles of persuasion (the others are reciprocity,
scarcity, authority, consistency and liking).
- [03:34] Social proof and
herding feels a bit like a chicken and the egg situation. We are a
herding species, we look for social proof to validate our decisions
and be accepted by the group, but when social proof is present…we
are more likely to herd. Which came first?
- [04:31] Having a lot of other
people (or the right people) who have made the same choice in the
past (regardless of whether or not it is a good one) is the social
proof we need to nudge us into making the same choice.
- [05:01] You may be using social
proof in your business or have seen it used in other businesses.
Now you have scientific proof that these methods work.
- [05:19] The six types of social
proof are: expert, celebrity, user, wisdom of the crowd, wisdom of
friends, and certification.
proof would be when someone who is an expert in the industry
recommends or speaks on behalf of a product or service. An expert
extends a halo effect to the organization who brought them
- [06:37] Be aware of authority
bias. People are conditioned to believe those who are in
- [07:55] In your business,
consider who an expert is on a topic, and how you might be able to
bring them in to interact with your audience.
- [08:35] Experts lend
credibility and the value of social proof to a brand – they make
people feel comfortable about working with you.
is a clear value in having a celebrity talk about your
- [10:01] You need to reach
people in a way that will encourage
them to take action.
- [11:12] Microinfluencers can
impact your business by reaching the people who are likely to
- [11:50] Just because a
celebrity is easy to get, doesn’t’ mean they are a good fit for you
or your brand. It is important to be discerning and make sure there
- [12:08] The perceived
personality of the celebrity carries over onto the perceived
personality of the brand.
- [12:45] Have a
user talk about
your product. You could also stack this with a celebrity who used
- [13:16] Incorporating users
includes reviews and testimonials.
- [13:30] People are more likely
to be influenced by those who they consider to be like themselves.
This is the herding piece in action, along with our personal biases
toward our own in-group.
- [15:25] Cialdini's towel
example shows how incredibly powerful social proof can
- [15:46] A genuine user talking
about the product is influential. When you can help people to see
that others like them have found value from your business, it is a
- [16:42] I find key moments to
mention that I have clients and people do work with me. It helps
people to see that others like them work with me.
- [18:26] For testimonials: you
do not need to write out the complete testimonial OR put the name
of the person who provided it.
- [21:51] Understand why you are
using the testimonial and why it matters to the person making the
decision, and only use the important pieces.
- [24:16] Wisdom
of the crowd is when
someone follows you on Twitter and you look at their profile and
decide whether to follow back based on the number of followers they
- [25:24] If you have a lot of
past customers or clients, or downloads of a podcast, or
subscribers to your YouTube channel or whatever it is…that is worth
sharing. Showing those numbers (even off to the side) will be
- [27:20] Having a Starbucks “on
every corner” is a version of social proof as well – “it must be
popular if there are so many”.
- [28:33] Wisdom
of your friends, when
someone is closely affiliated – someone you actually know like and
trust, their opinion goes further.
- [28:51] One really easy thing
to do is to do Facebook ads to friends of people who like your page
already – then when the potential liker sees the ad it will say
something like “Melina Palmer and 4 other friends like this page”
which will make that person more likely to consider liking the page
- [31:13] Another way to trigger
the wisdom of friends is by asking people to share photos of
themselves using your product.
someone else with credibility giving you their stamp of
approval. This form of social proof helps people to feel
comfortable with making a decision because it shows someone else
did a considerable amount of due diligence.
- [33:02] Earned media is when
you or your business gets featured on the news or a local
- [33:44] Being on a show like
Shark Tank raises awareness even if they don't get a
- [34:58] Showing that other
people have already been there and liked that is really valuable in
getting more customers for your business. Sprinkle these in all
over your messaging.
- [36:21] There are so many ways
to incorporate social proof into your business. It's possible to
overdo it, but you would really have to say it a lot. Remember your
customers brains are busy so you need to put it out there several
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