What is social proof and why do I need it?

A Nielsen study released back in 2013 claimed that 68 percent of people completely or somewhat trust consumer opinions posted online.

Trust in consumer opinions (or social proof) was trumped by just two other forms of advertising: personal recommendations and content on branded websites. While it’s tricky to generate personal recommendations and impossible to control content on third-party branded websites, the promotion of consumer opinions is something you can always do.

Consumer opinions can transform dull, uninspiring and ineffective marketing materials into something more exciting. Much more exciting.

In this blog, I’m going to look more broadly at what social proof is and how marketers can integrate it into landing pages, social campaigns and general strategies to drive the best results. So let’s get started.

What is Social Proof?

At its most basic level, social proof is:

“…a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”

Dodgy politicians have been exploiting social proof for years, hiring plants to sit in the audience and cheer at prearranged times. Regular audience members, seeing the marks cheering, will often join in because they see cheering as the correct behaviour.

And it’s the same story when it comes to marketing. We select and showcase marks who perform the actions we want other users to.

Take a look at MailChimp’s homepage. I’ve highlighted the important bits.

Join more than 10 million people who use MailChimp. Ten million people. That’s more people than the populations of Scotland, Jamaica, Fiji, Montenegro, Luxembourg, Malta, Iceland and Barbados. Combined.

With over 10 million people signed up, using MailChimp is clearly the correct behaviour for the situation. And it obviously works because MailChimp’s customer base is booming.