Marketing psychology is a vast topic filled with lots of information and sub fields. At times, breaking down those concepts into small pieces can make them easier to understand.
Social proof is an area of marketing psychology that refers to consumers’ tendency to follow what others are doing. We regularly see this with brands that have large audiences, customers who are willing to stand in long lines and testimonials.
We looked back at some of our favorite blogs on the topic and chose quotes from each that speak directly to what social proof is and how it shows up in B2C marketing.
1. “Essentially, social proof is an efficiency tactic that increases our chances of survival, and hence evolution has played a big role. It's about learning from the mistakes of others, to efficiently know what is good and bad, without having to experience it first-hand.” - James Pardoe, CEO, Grow Digital Services .
While some aspects of consumer behavior come natural to humans, they don’t stay that way. Instead, they evolve to meet the needs of consumers’ current landscape.
Social proof is largely important to the success of humans because it helps provide consumers with a sense of direction.
When we spoke with Pardoe about social proof, he said it can be showcased in two ways:
- First, is knowing something is dangerous because others have told us so.
- Second, is knowing that something is safe because other people trust it.
Social proof is used to help keep danger at bay. And in the case of the consumer journey, “danger” can present itself as excessive spending, products that don’t meet consumer expectations, long wait times and more.
When consumers can see that other customers trust and love a brand, they’re more likely to interact with it as well.
2. “Humans are group animals. We’re tribe animals, and we want to look around and see that the option we're about to make is safe and that other people have made the same decision." - Sue Moore, founder, Virtual Gold Dust
Again, safety is a major concern for consumers. It’s how they develop consumer usage habits and decide what products we want to repurchase. Consumers don’t like making wrong decisions and so they often look to others to guide them down the right path. Choices that have been co-signed by someone are often seen as the safer — and better — options.
Once a consumer has deemed a product as safe, they’re more likely to become loyal customers, share their findings with friends, and trust your products in the future.
3. “Trust, reliability and credibility are the cornerstones of influence, whether you’re using it to establish authority [as a brand] or in other forms of marketing,” - Duncan Stevens, influence expert and author
The success of a social proof marketing campaign is largely dependent on how much a consumer trusts the people or brand backing it. Without trust, social proof doesn’t work. It’s the basis on which consumers decide how credible a brand is.
4. “You may not have ever met, but because you are connected with them digitally, you have the impression that you know them. You’ve watched their videos. You’ve maybe seen them in their bathroom. So we believe consumers honestly think that they have a very good understanding of this person, even though it’s just like any kind of spokesperson.” - Dante Pirouz, consumer psychologist
Despite social proof being largely centered around the trust shared between people, consumers don’t have to know someone personally to trust them.
Sure, having a strong relationship with someone is beneficial in making social proof work, but there are other elements that play a part in cultivating trust. A person can feel close to someone like an influencer if they’ve spent enough time watching their videos online or if they have various things in common.
Learning how to implement social proof into your marketing campaigns can take time. Hopefully, this blog serves as your fast track to key insights within the world of social proof.