Social Proof Principle

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by Robert Cialdini

Let’s hop into a very common incident that we all have faced in our lives. Just imagine that you’re walking down a street in a city that is not very familiar, looking for a restaurant to have a quick dinner and you come across two restaurants that are located opposite to each other. There are people in one and the other is completely empty. Which restaurant would you go to? Would you barge into the one with people or the other restaurant without anybody? Most of us are likely to choose the restaurant with people without even thinking twice. This tendency is called ‘Social proof’ in human psychology. Social proof is the psychological tendency of people to follow the behavior of the masses. When we see the masses act in a certain way, such actions are imprinted on our minds as correct behavior and it happens unintentionally. In the scenario discussed above, many people would choose the restaurant with people over the other as it gives a positive impression that it must be good because many people are there. At the same time, a restaurant without people would give you the impression that it mustn’t be as good as the other or it’s just bad. This tendency of human psychology is widely used by marketers around the world to influence consumer decisions. Also, the social proof theory is used by many businesses with an online presence to attract more customers towards their websites or online stores for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Social proof in online marketing

When we shop at a physical store, we have all the opportunity to inspect the goods in many means such as to see the goods, feel them, and to use them in certain ways etc. The real world experience is not given as it is when we shop at an online store. How exactly are we supposed to convince ourselves that our spending is going to bring the value we expect? Social proof theory comes in handy in this situation. What if you see that many people have had a pleasant experience buying stuff from the online store you’re at? That will definitely convince you that your investment would not go in vain. It works the other way too. Negative user experience of past consumers will definitely bring down sales in any website or a web store. So, the key to present your website or web store with authenticity towards Conversion Rate Optimization is to influence consumer decisions by conveying the message that you serve the best. How exactly can you do this?

Embed reviews to your website

Let your past customers speak for you. Online reviews play a huge role on the internet to influence consumer decisions positively or negatively. That is the method that the majority of users use to gauge the authenticity of your brand online. You also have a huge role to play here. After all, what you give will be reflected through the review of your customers. By making sure that you provide a quality service, you can not only obtain positive social proof for Conversion Rate Optimization, but also get rid of the negative social proofs.

On the other hand, not letting your customers post their reviews will present your website with less authenticity and it is a huge mistake to do as no one would even want to try your site when there are lots of other websites out there who are being transparent with the quality they generate.

Embed customer testimonial/ success stories to your website

Customer testimonials are ideal to influence consumer decisions greatly. The method you present the customer testimonials, will decide how strongly the target audience is influenced. For example, video testimonials definitely work better over a text testimonial. Through a video, people can see the body language and hear the tone of the speaker. They will know the genuine testimonials and the forced ones and this quality is lacking in text testimonials.

Social influencer/celebrity endorsement

Social influencer is a person who is loved and followed by many people. A celebrity is a type of social influencer. But, any buzz builder and an opinion changer can be an influencer, not necessarily a celebrity. Social influencer or celebrity endorsements can bring you heaps of profits as long as you deliver the value they talk about. The key here is to find an influencer who is admired and loved by your target audience. You can embed a short video or a quotation from such a person admiring your products or services on your website. Humans have this tendency that they believe the things spoken by their favorite people. Just prove that you do as you promise. Present that famous influencer on your website and you will do great towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Don’t forget to display your awards and recognitions in the website

Awards and Recognitions are the ideal elements to prove your target audience that you have been recognized and praised. Awards are tools to validate your brand as they are offered by a third party organization as a stamp of approval. This form of social proof definitely works great to convert the visitors into potential leads towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). More the awarding body is recognized by the people, the more is the value you generate.

Social proof with social shares

You can embed social proof to your website by adding social buttons. But this can work adversely too. Just like more shares convey a good impression as a result of the social proof theory, less shares just work the opposite. So the ideal way is to place the social button in a location where the central user focus is not attracted, yet they are usable.

Conclusion

The human tendency of psychology to follow masses to make their decisions has a great impact on online sites. You can optimize your web store by adhering to the top tips we’ve briefed for you, but be sure to optimize your website wisely in a way you don’t get any negative result because social proof works both the way; positively and negatively. Using social proof theory to influence consumer decisions is a proven method used by many marketers online towards the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

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