The psychology of social proof, also known as informational social influence, relies on the human tendency of following others’ leads in certain situations.
- Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people imitate the behavior of others in certain situations to conform to social norms.
- In digital marketing, prime examples of information social influence include recommendations and user reviews.
- Twitter verification, meant to establish credibility, has been plagued by controversies, thus undermining its effectiveness as a marketing tool.
The rise of the internet has opened new marketing avenues, and as we speed further into the digital age, digital marketing has become essential for business survival, regardless of its size. Some strategies rely on human nature, particularly our tendency to take cues from our environment and our desire to belong.
Psychological Digital Marketing
In 1984, Robert Cialdini coined the term social in his book Influence. What is informational social influence? In its simplest form, it is based on the idea that people copy others’ actions in certain situations, trying to emulate the behavior. Let’s say you are at your first concert. You don’t know what is socially acceptable there, so you follow everyone else’s lead.
To Leverage Social Proof or Not
In marketing, social proof takes the form of anything along the lines of media coverage and reviews. In making sure that their penny is well spent, shoppers go down rabbit holes of customer reviews, YouTube reviews, etc. In fact, some will even politely reach out to some customers for honest reviews. And if they strike gold, you KNOW everyone they know will be hearing about it. The following is a prime example of social proof: you are an average shopper; you would ask your entourage for their recommendations. For example, my friends come to me for makeup product recommendations, and another friend for electronic ones.
Social Proof Marketing Examples
Marketing is a tricky subject. We recommend hiring experts that will understand how to leverage this to your company’s advantage. Here are some social proof examples and types.
- Expert: recommended by experts like “9 in 10 dentists recommends [insert toothpaste brand here]
- Celebrity: recommended by a celebrity like Kim Kardashian posting a video of her daughter and herself playing with PeachyBbies products.
- User: recommended by your users like a small-time YouTuber posting a glowing review of your products purchased with their own money.
Social Proof and the Blue Tick for Sale
Twitter. The problem child of the socials. The platform’s blue tick verification service is a good idea but, to quote our editor-in-chief, “they are making a meal out of it and damaging its credibility.”
In case you missed it, Elon Musk decided a while back to change Twitter’s verification. Chaos ensued. Users practically bullied Eli Lilly into dropping their insulin prices. Musk tried to control the impersonators but failed and now, is planning to introduce per-article charging. Needless to say, this fiasco has dented the verification system’s credibility which in turn ruined the platform’s informational social influence.
I’m not the biggest fan of social media. But to give credit where credit is due, it is one powerful tool to establish yourself as a business, especially if you are a small one. However, with the current climate of social media platforms, Twitter may not be a viable option for informational social influence for long.
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