Serving Up Suggestions To Your Audience By Tapping Your Audience with Social Proof

Kenny Jahng —  2012/10/23 — Leave a comment

One of the biggest tools you can utilize in your communications when trying to get people to consume content, sign-up for your program or attend an event is SOCIAL PROOF.

So what is it and how does it look like when put into action on the web?

Well, social proof (of some nerdies call it “information social influence”) is taking a scenario where the end user is given some choices (buy something, attend something, sign-up for something, etc) and presenting some traction data, show the other people “like you” are doing X, Y or Z.  Basically. this helps people psychologically take the risk to move in the same direction as the others doing so.  Usually, this is more effective in circumstances where the choices might be a bit ambiguous or if there isn’t a clear demonstrated need to participate (it’s not mission critical).

Shopping is one environment that is a great example.  Here’s a great example of Crocs using it in a customer email blast:

 

social proof with social media - facebook twitter pinterest

 

Do you see how they are presenting the highlighted products based on the “MOST ______ed” across the three major social networks?

But it’s not limited to shopping obviously. when you provide social proof, it taps the assumption that the people around you are making good choices and removes some of the needed decision discernment.  Social proof increases confidence in the behavior being presented as a successful one.

 

Billions Served social proof example

There are many ways social proof can be offered.  Five different ways social proof is expressed are:

  1. Crowd-based social proof –– This is the Crocs example above.  Using the masses to signal suggested choices is highly effective.
  2. Celebrity or high influencer social proof — traditional endorsements leverage the high-profile individual’s brand equity by association to provide the proof to the audience
  3. End user social proof — This can be featuring user reviews.  Displaying Zagat or Yelp review counts and specific examples is an example of this.
  4. Expert or authority social proof — Using the testimonial of a sector expert or someone positioned with authority on the category or topic related to the behavior being proofed
  5. Personal friend networks social proof — you’ve seen Facebook ads feature specific friends within your own personal network that have already “liked” or purchased something.

Whether you are trying to increase the effectiveness of your donor development communications, registration for specific events or fundraisers, or even take up a new praxis or discipline, social proof can be a powerful tool to employ across your communications efforts.

What specific marketing communications project are you working on now that could benefit from integrating social proof?  Share your live examples and we can help brainstorm how to maximize the impact.

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