Image Credit (Flickr: Alexandre Duret-Lutz)
This weeks post will examine Social Proof it is related to the topic I initially planned to cover that of authority it is an important subject for those marketing on the Internet and using Social media to support that marketing
What is Social Proof?
When we are confronted by an unfamiliar situation we examine the actions of others to determine the proper behaviour expected of us the British we have a well known tendency for forming queues we’ll use Social proof to ascertain where we should queue i.e. by the guide rope near the nightclub door, and is queuing actually necessary? The use of social proof extends online to actions such as social media shares case studies, testimonials and reviews it is related to authority, Social proof can be utilised to influence people’s purchasing decisions which is what as marketers really interests us.
Types of Social Proof
5 types of social proof are commonly cited these being
- ‘Approval from a credible expert, such as an industry blogger or other
- Approval or endorsements from celebrities, especially those that are unpaid
- User Social Proof
- Approval from current users of the product/service, such as customer testimonials, case studies, and reviews
- Wisdom of the crowd
- Approval from large groups of other people, ie 5 million people cannot be wrong use our widget!
- Wisdom of friends
- Approval from your friends or people you know, family would fall in this category
The categories and descriptions in the above list are courtesy of both TechCrunch and Hubspot.
I have no doubt you will be familiar with most of these types of social Proof especially the first two where Celebrities and experts are used to endorse products this will undoubtedly influence some people to purchase said product. Personally I tend to relying mainly on the wisdom of friends and to a lesser extent the wisdom of crowds for opinion on purchases. If I am buying a widget I will talk to friends who I know to be widget experts and ask their opinion, where such expertise is unavailable I will examine reviews on both the British and American Amazon websites, that is how I personally gather information for purchasing decisions, using specialist publications to find reviews to complete the process if you like that’s my typical buyers journey and how I use social prof to reinforce decisions.
Online Social Proof
Online people look for forms of social proof however they take slightly different forms, an article which is widely shared would be regarded as having social proof likewise a twitter or You tube account with a large number of followers. On reflection I suppose that social proof is related to the concept of critical mass, people do join Social Networks if most of their friends & acquaintances are using the network, Critical Mass is the number beyond which people will join your social network on their own accord, in a similar way Google plus failed to take off in the UK at least so lack of social proof may put people off an action.
Definition: Critical mass is a sufficient number of adopters of an innovation in a social system so that the rate of adoption becomes self-sustaining and creates further growthWikipedia.com
Social proof is a factor well worth considering when considering your online marketing efforts, utilised correctly it can be used to give your marketing more impact ands to give you more authority, which is always desirable online.