The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

87. Social Proof: How to Use Herding to Boost Engagement and Sales

av The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics | Publicerades 2/14/2020

Social proof was introduced by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence. It’s one of the six principles of persuasion (accompanied by reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, and liking). I talked about social proof in last week's episode on Peloton. I talked about the infamous ad that made Peloton have a dramatic drop in market value, but I also talked about all of the things they were doing right and how they were using availability, priming, stacking and bundling offers, money back guarantees, reciprocity, choice architecture, herding and…of course…social proof. 

I’ve heard from many of you who are actually considering getting a Peloton after that episode. That wasn’t my intention, but something I love to hear because we have been so happy with ours (and it is an example of the third type of social proof - users). Herding and social proof are closely related. When social proof is present, we are more likely to herd. We also look for social proof because it helps us validate our decisions. I’ll talk about the six types of social proof which are expert, celebrity, user, wisdom of the crowd, wisdom of friends, and certification. I’ll show how our biased brains are susceptible to social proof, ways it shows up, and how easily it can be implemented in any business – and why it is important to incorporate it.

Show Notes:

  • [02:28] Social proof is closely related to herding.
  • [02:39] The concept of social proof was first introduced by Robert Cialdini. Cialdini’s 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion introduced the concept of social proof as one of the six principles of persuasion (the others are reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency and liking).
  • [03:34] Social proof and herding feels a bit like a chicken and the egg situation. We are a herding species, we look for social proof to validate our decisions and be accepted by the group, but when social proof is present…we are more likely to herd. Which came first?
  • [04:31] Having a lot of other people (or the right people) who have made the same choice in the past (regardless of whether or not it is a good one) is the social proof we need to nudge us into making the same choice.
  • [05:01] You may be using social proof in your business or have seen it used in other businesses. Now you have scientific proof that these methods work.
  • [05:19] The six types of social proof are: expert, celebrity, user, wisdom of the crowd, wisdom of friends, and certification.
  • [05:52] Expert social proof would be when someone who is an expert in the industry recommends or speaks on behalf of a product or service. An expert extends a halo effect to the organization who brought them there.
  • [06:37] Be aware of authority bias. People are conditioned to believe those who are in authority.
  • [07:55] In your business, consider who an expert is on a topic, and how you might be able to bring them in to interact with your audience.
  • [08:35] Experts lend credibility and the value of social proof to a brand – they make people feel comfortable about working with you.
  • [08:59] Celebrity: There is a clear value in having a celebrity talk about your product.
  • [10:01] You need to reach the right people in a way that will encourage them to take action.
  • [11:12] Microinfluencers can impact your business by reaching the people who are likely to buy.
  • [11:50] Just because a celebrity is easy to get, doesn’t’ mean they are a good fit for you or your brand. It is important to be discerning and make sure there is alignment.
  • [12:08] The perceived personality of the celebrity carries over onto the perceived personality of the brand.
  • [12:45] Have a user talk about your product. You could also stack this with a celebrity who used your product.
  • [13:16] Incorporating users includes reviews and testimonials.
  • [13:30] People are more likely to be influenced by those who they consider to be like themselves. This is the herding piece in action, along with our personal biases toward our own in-group.
  • [15:25] Cialdini's towel example shows how incredibly powerful social proof can be.
  • [15:46] A genuine user talking about the product is influential. When you can help people to see that others like them have found value from your business, it is a win.
  • [16:42] I find key moments to mention that I have clients and people do work with me. It helps people to see that others like them work with me.
  • [18:26] For testimonials: you do not need to write out the complete testimonial OR put the name of the person who provided it.
  • [21:51] Understand why you are using the testimonial and why it matters to the person making the decision, and only use the important pieces.
  • [24:16] Wisdom of the crowd is when someone follows you on Twitter and you look at their profile and decide whether to follow back based on the number of followers they have.
  • [25:24] If you have a lot of past customers or clients, or downloads of a podcast, or subscribers to your YouTube channel or whatever it is…that is worth sharing. Showing those numbers (even off to the side) will be noticed.
  • [27:20] Having a Starbucks “on every corner” is a version of social proof as well – “it must be popular if there are so many”.
  • [28:33] Wisdom of your friends, when someone is closely affiliated – someone you actually know like and trust, their opinion goes further.
  • [28:51] One really easy thing to do is to do Facebook ads to friends of people who like your page already – then when the potential liker sees the ad it will say something like “Melina Palmer and 4 other friends like this page” which will make that person more likely to consider liking the page too.
  • [31:13] Another way to trigger the wisdom of friends is by asking people to share photos of themselves using your product.
  • [31:45] Certification is someone else with credibility giving you their stamp of approval.  This form of social proof helps people to feel comfortable with making a decision because it shows someone else did a considerable amount of due diligence.
  • [33:02] Earned media is when you or your business gets featured on the news or a local magazine.
  • [33:44] Being on a show like Shark Tank raises awareness even if they don't get a deal.
  • [34:58] Showing that other people have already been there and liked that is really valuable in getting more customers for your business. Sprinkle these in all over your messaging.
  • [36:21] There are so many ways to incorporate social proof into your business. It's possible to overdo it, but you would really have to say it a lot. Remember your customers brains are busy so you need to put it out there several times.

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Consumers are weird. They don't do what they say they will do and don't act how we think they "should." Enter Melina Palmer, a sales conversion expert with a personal mission to make your business more effective and brain friendly. In this podcast, Melina will take the complex concepts of behavioral economics (the study and science of why people buy - or not) and provide simple, actionable tips you can apply right away in your business. Whether you're a small business or thriving corporation, Melina's tips can help your business increase sales and get more customers.