How influential is Social Proof?

21/04/2015 by Nick Johnson


There are two different approaches in terms of using social proof as an advertising tool to would-be consumers, known as positive and negative social proof.

Negative social proof

Negative social proof is incredibly unpersuasive, in fact in some cases it has actually led to opposing and drastic results. An example of this particular marketing technique would be to discourage a certain type of behaviour by stating its current damage, ie. 4 years ago, over 22 million single women did not vote.

Explaining that the activity is morally wrong but claiming a large number of people are still doing it, does not create a strong argument to deter enough people from committing similar wrongdoings.

Positive Social Proof

Positive social proof is powerful as it has actually been proved to be more influential than the effects of money. I know, hard to believe right?!

The power of group influence should not be underestimated, with user review websites such as TripAdvisor rapidly growing in popularity in recent years. However, social proof is not a phenomenon that has been unleashed overnight. Before the invention of statistics and marketing gurus, our ancestors relied on word of mouth and neighbourly advice to gain the majority of their consumer knowledge.

It should therefore be encouraged to include elements of social proof on your homepage and sales pages, especially in areas that allows customers to purchase your product or services. The professional networking website Linkedin heavily promotes the implementation of a user picture, which has shown to significantly increase the trust amongst followers and consumers, so prepare to say ‘CHEESE!’ and don’t forget to smile!