5 Different Types of Social Proof that Drive Consumer Behavior

Even if you haven’t formally studied Behavioral Science or consumer behavior in marketing, you’ve probably used or been influenced by Social Proof. You can’t help it - our brains are wired to be influenced by other people. When we’re not sure what to do, consumer behavior in marketing repeatedly shows that we get our guidance by watching how others act.

Using Social Proof correctly on your website can dramatically boost conversion and influence buyer behavior. But, using it wrong can set negative consequences in motion. Learn about consumer behavior in marketing and know the key differences when using psychology in marketing so you can successfully influence consumer behavior.

5 Types of Social Proof:

  1. Wisdom of your friends Social Proof.

    Instead of tooting your own horn, let your prospects’ friends do it for you. The sound comes across a million times louder. Letting friends recommend is one of the most powerful ways to influence consumer behavior in marketing. It’s how things go viral.

    Friends forwarding friends newsletters from Skimm helped this startup jump to 1.5 million subscribers in just 3 years.

    Wisdom of your friends - Social Proof

    Try This:

    • Always make it easy to share. From newsletters to apps to online deals, include a button that lets users forward to friends. Make it personal and you’ll make it powerful.

  2. Wisdom of the crowds Social Proof

    If you have enough numbers, the user doesn’t have to have a personal connection for this type of Social Proof to work. The wisdom of the crowds helps users discover the best way forward.

    A restaurant boosted sales of specific dishes by 13-20% just by labeling them as “our most popular items.”

    Try This:

    • Share your best numbers: how many subscribers, years in the industry, dollars saved for clients, etc.

    • Let users know what worked for others: label your most popular items.

    • Use a badge or logo to indicate best sellers.

    Here’s how SalesForce influences consumer behavior in marketing by using the wisdom of the crowd on its pricing page.

    Wisdom of the crowds - Social Proof
  3. People just like me Social Proof

    When people share things in common, they’re more likely to accept advice. That’s why successful salespeople spend a few minutes finding things in common before making their pitch. You can see how this type of psychology in marketing can be scaled when you look at the influence of niche bloggers: customers referred by influential digital moms shop at 2x the rate of customers from all other marketing channels.

    We helped Hand in Hand reach more parents around the world by including testimonials from parents who shared the concerns and joys of their users.

    People just like me - Social Proof

    Try This:

    • In your website or proposal, use logos from other people who are similar to your targeted user.

    • On your homepage make sure your testimonial:
      • addresses your ideal client’s biggest concern,
      • shows that you solved the problem,
      • comes from a customer your visitors can easily relate to.

    • Sprinkle testimonials throughout your site that address each stage of the conversion process.

    • On the subscriber box, for example, your testimonial could say “this is the only newsletter that helps me do X.”

  4. People I want to be like Social Proof.

    The bigger the fish, the bigger the splash. If you’ve gotten an expert endorsement or are trusted by leaders in the field, leverage that to drive consumer behavior.

    We transformed a generic landing page to one that tightly focused on startup founders. By showcasing testimonials from leaders that the target audience respected and aspired to be like helped the company generate a 115% boost in qualified leads. Read Algentis Case Study.

    People I want to be like - Social Proof

    Try This:

    • Not everyone needs national media coverage. Your target audience may be as impressed by a mention in a trade magazine they rely on.

    • Showcase the logos they’re most likely to respect. No one will scroll through your entire work history, make it easy for users to see you’ve done good work with names they recognize.

  5. Negative Social Proof: bad behavior as the norm.

    This is the one you want to stay away from. According to social psychologist Robert Cialdini, negative Social Proof has a powerful effect on people, because it shows that even though something is bad, if others are doing it, it’s okay for you to do it, too. (Mothers around the world deal with this daily.)

    A national park in Arizona put up a sign asking people not to remove rocks. People thought it was the norm and theft actually increased.

    Try this:

    No! Do not try this one. By now you know what happens when something gets a social seal of approval. Instead you need to stay focused on the behavior you do want people to do. For best results, do a mixture of 1-4.

  • Shirin Oreizy
    Shirin Oreizy
  • JoAnne Tobias
    JoAnne Tobias

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