The Psychology of Social Proof

Written by Courtney Raguso, Social Media Content Creator

What is Social Proof? 

Informational social influence, otherwise known as social proof, is a psychological occurrence where people follow the actions of others to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. In other words, people follow the crowd because they think the majority is right. Social proof is motivated from the feeling of uncertainty, wanting to fit in and the fear of missing out. Social influence results in what is known as “herd behavior” where people look towards others for direction and reassurance concerning the correct behavior. People tend to levitate towards the crowd and what’s popular. The more popular, the higher the reputability. Whether something is really the right or wrong decision is not the focus here, what matters is the psychology behind that decision making.

Psychology and Marketing

In order to be successful at marketing, you need to understand the way people think and reasons for their behavior. Psychology should be an integrated part of your marketing strategy, and it’s important to be able to create a marketing strategy that is based off of your audiences’ behavior, attitudes, values, and pain points. The way to win in marketing is to be highly consumer centric, and the way to do that is to try to get in their heads. As a business owner, you need to understand and know your audience. They don’t know your business, so this is where the art of persuasion comes in. Social proof is a main principle of persuasion and is a vital concept you need to understand if you want your business to gain a following and grow. Thanks to social media and the internet, it’s a lot easier to incorporate social proof in your marketing strategy.

When it comes to marketing, understanding psychology is key to getting through to your audience. It is important to understand why people do things and what makes them give you business when they haven’t experienced your product or service yet. When faced in an unfamiliar situation, an individual with uncertainty would look to others for guidance. The people they look to for guidance will have certain traits that are the driving force of that decision. These traits motivate and enhance the use of social proof. They can take the form of an expert, a celebrity, a product user, a crowd or even just similarities and familiarities. Studies show that emotional arousal often leads to social sharing and conversion. So, the goal is to create that connection, influence and persuade your audience into thinking that they need your business. Using social proof is a great way to connect with your audience and get them to make a decision. 

What do you want them to feel? Fear? Familiarity? Reassurance? There are a number of emotions you can create, but it’s important to first understand what they look for when they don’t know what to do. Those traits include similarities, familiarities, knowledge and numbers. When you have to choose between 2 restaurants you’ve never been to and one has a crowd and the other is empty, which are you going to pick? Or how about when you go to an event and don’t know anyone, then you later recognize a person you know? That emotion is what social proof is based off of.

Reviews, testimonials, endorsements, awards and recognition are all great ways to grow trust with your audience. Providing these people with options and different ways to interpret your brand, gives you more power to influence an indefinite number of people. Known as the “multiple source effect,” using more sources will gain more credibility in a situation where an individual is unsure about making a decision. It’s even more ideal if these arrangements are with people who have a good reputation. Social media influencers are a prime example of social proof, and as we stated before, they are an incredible tool for building your brand’s reputability. People make judgments based on their impression of people, they look up to certain people with values they share with, they want to feel included and fear of missing out. Keeping all of that in mind will make marketing and creating those connections a lot easier. 

Understanding how people work is very important to marketing and we are more alike than we may all think. We as people have tendencies and traits that define our behavior and decision making. We look to each other for help when we don’t know what to do. We look for answers, reassurance, comfort, and support. As a business owner, it is critical to understand human behavior and offer your audience a solution

At MSM DesignZ, we believe in the importance of integrating psychology and human behavior into our marketing strategies. Being consumer centric and focusing on providing your audience different ways to connect with your brand will increase the odds of obtaining and converting your audience. With resources and connections in all the right places, along with expert knowledge in social psychology and behavioral studies, our team can make those conversions possible. Want to channel the minds of your audience? Call our main office in Tarrytown at (914) 909-5900, and we’ll work with you to devise a custom plan that will promote decision making for your brand. We look forward to working with you!