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The Psychology Of Social Proof

Social Proof is one of the most important psychological tactics increasingly used by advertisers, marketers, website owners, politicians, professionals, business owners, and many other folks. These folks understand the human psychology that it is easier and more comfortable to agree with others than analyzing and going our own way. Social proof makes them lazy to perform logical research and also relaxes their defenses. When there is enough social proof for the quality and worthiness of a product or service, people tend not to challenge its credibility, especially when it comes from an authority source. Below are few examples where you can see “social proof” in action:

People visit websites which are “most visited”, “most popular” and “highly recommended”.

When a celebrity is used in advertising, people tend to believe that the product must be good without considering any facts.

Quite a few websites have testimonials of their clients displayed on their pages. This adds credibility to the product.

Television producers use a laugh track in their comedies every time a punch line or joke is cracked. Even if you know that it’s just a recording, it doesn’t stop you from laughing even louder, does it?

Roadside vendors also use this psychological trick on unsuspecting customers. Have you seen a hawker demonstrating a product and after some time one or two people step in to buy them; and then everybody follows suit? These first two people were (in most cases) the hawker’s own delegated people prepaid beforehand, to initiate the buying frenzy!

Another similar case is when performers at a bar or live event secretly put higher denomination currency bills in the tips jar to raise the tips of others! So if you see $5 bills, it is to make it clear that “everyone else gives this amount” so you should also give five bucks!

A more sophisticated example is when donation collectors make some “seeded guests” at a gathering pay huge amounts of checks to get others pay higher, and later return the checks to the seeders!

Just like in a herd of animals, humans also have a tendency to “self preservation” by resisting to venturing out on our own. We’re also “pack animals” but in a slightly different perspective. The social proof strategy is increased multifold when it comes from those who we identify with. So for example, when an advertisement says that Arnold Schwarzenegger uses this special Rocky’s Muscular Pain Balm and found it beneficial and you’re into the body building, it identifies better with your market and you will want to buy it.

Sometimes good copywriting is used to create the effect of social proof. Websites often have a list of “best sellers” or “most popular” products. Even if they’re not really popular or selling well, it creates credibility in the mind of the prospect and he thinks “If everybody is buying it, it must really be good”.

Having read so far, do you think you should use social proof in your marketing efforts (or whatever you’re trying to achieve)? Certainly! Should you give false claims just to create a social proof? Certainly not! While the false claim if found out can back fire and cause you a lot of bad reputation and possible permanent business loss, it could also land you in jail depending on the laws in your country. So be honest when creating your social proof strategies. If you don’t have enough testimonials, give a free trial to selected folks whose testimonials could help your business the push it requires. You can learn some more sales techniques by visiting where I’ve published all of my articles.

Good luck in your endeavor!

About Author Nirjara Rustom :

Nirjara Rustom moderates the <a href="" target="_blank">psychology articles</a> section of <a href="" target="_blank"></a> at <a href="" target="_blank"></a> - a free information resource.

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Article Added on Sunday, December 7, 2008
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