I was about ten years old. My two best friends and I were at school. My short tiny friend with red hair and freckles asked if we wanted to do something fun. We said yes. He whispered into my ear, “just follow me and do what I am doing.” I had no clue what he was going to do. I just kept staring at him. He walked up to a group of older boys. He looked at me and my other friend, and he nodded his head. I understood that whatever he was going to do was about to happen. He turned his head and looked straight up in the sky. We both followed his lead and did the same. We kept looking for a while, until I felt his breath and I heard another whisper into my ear. “Look at the boys.” I turned, and noticed that all the other guys were looking straight up into the sky.
We hadn’t said anything. We hadn’t told them to look. They just did what we did. And we were just making fun of them. That’s the first time I discovered the power of social proof.
Social proof is the most powerful thing you can imagine
I’m going to reveal why the rich gets richer, and people with power gets even more powerful. They understand social proof, and they continue to add more social proof.
Social proof is one of the most important aspects of any marketing. I believe that social proof is the easiest way to persuade anybody into doing almost anything.
When I wrote that Clicky is Google Analytics on steroids, and a lot of people agreed with me in the comments, you, as a visitor, will be a lot more interested in Clicky, based on the fact that a lot of other people are using it and are saying good things about it. Or when you read all the rave reviews I’ve received for my Marketing Made Simple ebook.
Social proof means that you trust things that other people recommend or are doing. It doesn’t matter if you know the people or not. You trust other people. Period.
And the thing is. The more people that recommend you, and do what you do, and listen to you, the more people will follow you. You’ll continue to grow, based upon your social proof.
I was in Gothenburg (an awesome city in Sweden) a few weeks ago. One of my friends recommended that we should eat at Wok House, an Asian restaurant. To make a long story too short; it was packed with people, and the food was amazing. The only reason we decided to eat at Wok House, and not a pizza restaurant (which I did my best to persuade my buddies to do), was because of how packed the restaurant was. We were all thinking that if it’s packed, they must be serving awesome food.
Social proof is not only about Quantity
When I am going to watch a movie, I ask my friends if they’ve seen it first. I listen to them for advice, and I watch movies that they recommend. They know me, what I want to watch, and I trust them. I don’t pay much attention to reviews on websites or in newspapers. I pay more attention to people I know and trust.
Social proof is about paying attention to testimonials from random people. We all pay attention to some parts of the reviews. But, we pay more attention to people we trust.
For instance, when your best friend tells you about his favorite restaurant, you pay attention. And when John Falchetto tells you about How to convert your passion into business, you pay attention. That’s because you know your best friend has awesome recommendations when it comes to restaurants, and because you know that John Falchetto is brilliant.
A person is not just a random person when it comes to social proof. It’s about trust and social leverage.
Social proof can be forced
Social proof will eventually show up if your products are awesome. But, why wait? Ask for social proof, and start using it in your marketing. Ask your customers for testimonials.
I work with students at the University. They are brilliant students. We’ve given 18 students iPads in order for them to document on social media what’s happening on campus and in the lives of “random” students. I’ve only asked them to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. But on the other hand, I’m forcing social proof. I know that they won’t say anything but awesome stuff about the University, and that’s because I didn’t pick random students, and they received an iPad. Who would say anything bad when you’ve received an iPad?
When people read their stories (on social media), their friends and families, and whoever, they’ll look at their stories as social proof.
I don’t wait for social proof. I ask for it.
Undercover social proof
I’ve read about people who are getting paid to use products in order to inspire other people to start using the products. This happens as part of product launches, and it happens to sneezers (people who are highly influential). We see it all the time with celebrities, and especially at the Oscars. Actors and actresses are using clothes from famous designers in order to get other people to see them wearing the clothes. It’a all undercover social proof.
If the customers at Wok House didn’t really enjoy the food, but were paid to eat, just to get us inside, we would still have eaten the food. We wouldn’t have known the difference. But would this have been wrong, or wouldn’t you have had any problem doing it? I find this question to be very interesting. Undercover social proof is an easy way to get people to do almost anything.
Do you use social proof in your marketing strategy?
I’d love to get a discussion going on the use of social proof as part of a marketing strategy. And one more thing. Do you believe that you get influenced into doing things by social proof? For instance, if my two friends and I were staring up in the air, would you look?