I'm great! Why should you believe me?
Social proof is a form of information that people use to make decisions. It's a relevant commercial force that drives buying and hiring.
At the business level, social proof is fundamental to marketing, sales and leadership. At the career level, social proof is an important component of hiring, performance reviews and promotions.
Definition: Social Proof
Social proof is the use of social information in decision making.
Sources of Social ProofPeople look for social information to support decisions from the following sources.
- Trusted Advisers
All social information is not created equally. People naturally form trusted advisors by topic area. For example, you may trust one friend about movies and another friend about technology.
- Authority Figures
Authority is a type of social status. If someone in authority recommends someone or something it tends to carry weight.
Experts enjoy a social halo effect. If you're an expert in one thing people will trust your opinion in other topic areas.
- Social Circles
People are heavily influenced by their social circles. If everyone you know buys a particular mobile device, you may feel compelled to do the same.
By definition, celebrities enjoy a great deal of social status. If you meet the President of The United States you'll be more likely to get a promotion at work. Strange but true.
People are influenced by social signals from communities. For example, you buy a brand of motor oil that you know is popular, even if you don't know if your friends use it.
Why Is Social Proof Important?People action social information all the time. Social proof has a significant impact on decisions. This makes it a factor in sales, marketing and professional reputation.
How To Establish Social ProofSocial proof is more than popularity. It's any social information that's used in decision making. This can include both positive and negative ideas and emotions.
- Customer Experience
Brands depend on their customer experience for social proof. If you impress your customers with your end-to-end experience they'll tell their friends. They'll talk about you in social media.
- Celebrity Customers
Celebrities can hold a great deal of social status. Paying celebrities to promote your products can build social proof. Even better, get them to use your products because they like them. It's common for celebrities to be showered with product samples at events.
- Brand Ambassadors
Look at your employees as brand ambassadors. Hire people who have big social circles to focus on generating social proof.
- Employee Engagement
People trust insider views of your brand. If your employees are negative about your business, it's hard to get anywhere with your customers.
- Looks & Charisma
Beyond celebrities — attractive people also hold some social status. The same goes for people with charisma, power and personality.
Advertising and content that creates social buzz. For example, a funny commercial that gets everyone talking.
Sponsoring successful events generates social proof.
One of the primary effects of professional networking is to create social proof.
- Name Dropping
If you know powerful people, dropping their name can help create social proof. Name dropping can also be an annoying habit (use this technique with caution).
Friendly outgoing people tend to generate a good deal of social proof. Simply saying hello to everyone in your office makes you seem like a sociable, popular person.
- Social Abilities
Demonstrating social abilities adds to your social proof. For example, if you're skilled at public speaking or have a good sense of humor.
Following popular brands and trends adds to your own social proof. This effect is often small. It's more important to focus on your personality and relationships. A charismatic person will generate more social proof in one day than a trend follower does in a lifetime.