The Rule of Social Proof and Its Usage by Digital Marketers

No Comments

I am trying to cover each principle by Robert Cialdini that he explained in his book Influence: Science and Practice. This is the third article of the series in which we are going to talk about social proof, and also how digital marketers and SEOs can benefit from it.

Many big and small brands take advantage of the power of social proof in formulating and implementing their business strategies and tactics. Later on in this post I will discuss in detail what exactly social proof is and what experiments Robert Cialdini performed to prove its success. I will also discuss some ideas related to digital marketing where social proof comes in to play.

What is Social Proof?

According to Wikipedia,

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.

This means people in general intend to learn more from the action of others, so if a person has no idea what to do in a particular situation, he/she will most probably look around him (friends and people surrounded by him), observe and perform according to  what he/she has observed.

Muzafer Sharif, a Turkish-American social psychologist, performed an in-depth study on social proof in 1935 where his subjects were placed in a dark room and asked to look at a dot of light about 15 feet away. They were then asked how much the dot of light was moving. In reality it was not moving at all, but due to the autokinetic effect, it appeared to move. The result of the light appearing to move varies from person to person but is generally consistent over time for each individual.

After a few days, he performed the second part of the experiment where the subject was paired with two other subjects and asked the same question. Even though the subjects had previously given different estimates, the groups would come to a common estimate.

Experiments on Social Proof

The third rule of influencing people by Robert Cialdini is social proof. In order to prove this, he ran several experiments like the one he did in the movie theaters or dramas houses. According to him, theaters sometimes plant special members within the audience whose job is to clap or even give standing ovations on certain situations. Usually these are the ones who start clapping initially and then rest of the people follow.

People in the theater initially don’t understand how to react to the situation and when they see people around them clapping they follow them.

Facebook, the social media king, does something similar with its users. If you have ever noticed Facebook’s paid ad section, looks something like this:

who else liked this

So, Facebook is informing me that this ad is liked by two of my friends and this may compel me in a way to click on the ad, I might even like it too to join the crowd.

What Does Social Proof Mean For Digital Marketers?

Digital marketers are already using social proof in their day to day life in order to produce better results in terms of conversions.

  • Ecommerce Businesses

There are tons of ecommerce businesses operating out there and many of them are already using this tactic. The idea they follow is to include “Who else likes this?” feature by Facebook on product pages. When visitors land on the product pages, they are in a state to decide whether they should buy this product or not.

ecommerce business

When they see their friends or a person within their circle has liked the particular product they tend to buy it. Other people’s preferences influence our buying decisions as consumers.

  • Service Businesses 

This rule can prove to be equally helpful for businesses offering services (or software as a service) to one particular niche or different niches in general.

Distilled is one of the finest names when it comes to SEO and digital marketing services, like any other company they need business too. When a potential customer is in the process of deciding if they should contact them or not, they usually find a testimonial page.

distilled testimonial

As a consumer when we are confused and have trouble making buying decisions, we seek advice of the people around us. These testimonial pages help the consumer make smart decisions and the positive reviews encourage him to buy.

As digital marketers you can use this social proof rule and apply it while formulating your business strategy to improve conversion rate of your campaigns for different businesses. When using social proof rule try to make it as relevant to the potential client as possible.

For instance, detect the visitor’s location and show the testimonials from the companies that are relevant to that area or in case of ecommerce let him know who else in his friends circle has already bought or liked this particular product. The more assurance they get from this, the better the conversion rate will become.

This was the third article of the series, in order to stay updated with more posts of this series, stay tuned to SEtalks.com or follow us on .

Part 2The Commitment and Consistency Rule for Digital Marketers
Part 1The Rule of Reciprocity and Link Builders

Request a free quote

We offer professional SEO services that help websites increase their organic search score drastically in order to compete for the highest rankings even when it comes to highly competitive keywords.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More from our blog

See all posts
No Comments
  1. Pingback: Principle of Authority: How Can Link Builders Use It?

  2. Pingback: 5 Tools to Improve eCommerce Conversion Rates | Gloria Rand

    • AvatarUmar Khan
    • April 8, 2014
    Reply

    Hello,

    thank you Moosa for another great post. This concept of Cialdini has a very prominent impact on our way of thinking as I understand. I’d say “Social Proof” may hijack our brain sometimes, we could also use this principle by creating a “buzz” around our idea or product. You’re right we tend to like those things that our friends or family members are liking or sharing but we also tends to like or share those things that our “Ideals” or “influencers” are sharing or talking about.

    For instance, if I see you talking about Fishing , although I have no interest in fishing what so ever but when I observe you sharing about so much. I’ll definitely get inspired about this thing, the main reason is because I admire you and considered you an influencer, your liking and disliking somehow impact me as well.

    What’s your thoughts about it?

    Thanks,

    Umar

      • AvatarMoosa Hemani
      • April 8, 2014
      Reply

      This is one of the very good points you come up with but I have
      to slow you down here as there are 3 more post to come and one of the topic
      will cover your part as well :).

      And by the way thanks for including me in the list of
      influencers 😉

        • AvatarUmar Khan
        • April 8, 2014
        Reply

        I’ve read Cialdini (Real example of Social Proof), I’d love to see you covering the remaining aspects..

        By the way, you’ll always have a reserved space in my influncer’s list.. 🙂

        Regards,

    • AvatarUmar Khan
    • April 8, 2014
    Reply

    Hello,

    thank you Moosa for another great post. This concept of Cialdini has a very prominent impact on our way of thinking as I understand. I’d say “Social Proof” may hijack our brain sometimes, we could also use this principle by creating a “buzz” around our idea or product. You’re right we tend to like those things that our friends or family members are liking or sharing but we also tends to like or share those things that our “Ideals” or “influencers” are sharing or talking about.

    For instance, if I see you talking about Fishing , although I have no interest in fishing what so ever but when I observe you sharing about so much. I’ll definitely get inspired about this thing, the main reason is because I admire you and considered you an influencer, your liking and disliking somehow impact me as well.

    What’s your thoughts about it?

    Thanks,

    Umar

      • AvatarMoosa Hemani
      • April 8, 2014
      Reply

      This is one of the very good points you come up with but I have
      to slow you down here as there are 3 more post to come and one of the topic
      will cover your part as well :).

      And by the way thanks for including me in the list of
      influencers 😉

        • AvatarUmar Khan
        • April 8, 2014
        Reply

        I’ve read Cialdini (Real example of Social Proof), I’d love to see you covering the remaining aspects..

        By the way, you’ll always have a reserved space in my influncer’s list.. 🙂

        Regards,

    • AvatarUmar Khan
    • April 8, 2014
    Reply

    Hello,

    thank you Moosa for another great post. This concept of Cialdini has a very prominent impact on our way of thinking as I understand. I’d say “Social Proof” may hijack our brain sometimes, we could also use this principle by creating a “buzz” around our idea or product. You’re right we tend to like those things that our friends or family members are liking or sharing but we also tends to like or share those things that our “Ideals” or “influencers” are sharing or talking about.

    For instance, if I see you talking about Fishing , although I have no interest in fishing what so ever but when I observe you sharing about so much. I’ll definitely get inspired about this thing, the main reason is because I admire you and considered you an influencer, your liking and disliking somehow impact me as well.

    What’s your thoughts about it?

    Thanks,

    Umar

      • AvatarMoosa Hemani
      • April 8, 2014
      Reply

      This is one of the very good points you come up with but I have
      to slow you down here as there are 3 more post to come and one of the topic
      will cover your part as well :).

      And by the way thanks for including me in the list of
      influencers 😉

        • AvatarUmar Khan
        • April 8, 2014
        Reply

        I’ve read Cialdini (Real example of Social Proof), I’d love to see you covering the remaining aspects..

        By the way, you’ll always have a reserved space in my influncer’s list.. 🙂

        Regards,

Leave a Comment