David Brim on business, marketing & life.

The Power of Social Proof

By: David Brim June 2, 2010

Ever look up while standing in a crowded area? If not give it a try…a strange thing happens.   You’ll often see another person will stand by you and look up in the same direction you are…then another person…then another…if you do this long enough you’ll eventually gain traction and notice a whole group of people are now looking up to see what everyone is checking out.

By doing this exercise you’ll witness first hand the power of social proof.social-proof

Here is how Wikipedia explains Social proof:

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed. Since observation of others usually provides only inconclusive information about what behavior is most profitable, the term ‘informational social influence’ is superior. Social influence in general can lead to conformity of large groups of individuals in either correct or mistaken choices, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as herd behavior.

Social proof is an inherent social principle that can be leveraged in social media to increase traffic and visibility to your venture.  The way I would recommend to best utilize social proof is the following:

  1. First have a clear idea of the offer you’re trying to promote
  2. Make sure the website of your offer has a strong call to action (or is a buzz worthy product).  Social proof is much more effective principle if the thing you’re looking at is actually worth while….If your product or service is worthwhile it will gain significantly more traction.
  3. Plant the social proof seeds…This could be through well written or enticing content (articles, blog posts, press releases, etc) or through a genuine recommendation.Recommendations are a great way to facilitate the social proof process.  This can be done through sponsored conversations, which can be done by reaching out to online influencers with talking points and asking them to review or plug your product.  This kind of activity can be done by sponsoring blog posts, tweets, check-ins, or having a creator of a relevant social network send a message out to their group members.Now many people disagree with sponsored conversations, but lets face it….If you have a good product/service and can help facilitate the propensity for the site to go viral and reach the masses…why not?  (In the art/good practice of disclosure I did work for IZEA until May of last year, but I am not getting paid for this post.)  Another way to plant social seeds are through social bookmarking.  If you have a good product,service  offering or content share it with others by utilizing services like Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon or sharing the post via Facebook/Twitter.

Social proof is in my eyes a natural catalyst for word of mouth marketing.  The good part is many times you don’t even have to say anything….simply revealing your actions to your social circle of influence or helping facilitate the process/enabling others to share your offer or content with their social circle of influence can do wonders.

Word of Mouth marketing…or in the case of social proof….(Traction by Action Marketing <–I coined that! ) is a very powerful asset to incorporate into your marketing campaign.

Now it’s your turn…Do you agree with my comments?

What role do you feel social proof plays in marketing?

About the author

David Brim

David Brim is an Orlando based entrepreneur and marketing strategist turned investor. He is the founding partner and Chief Strategy Officer of Orlando Opportunity Fund, focused on advancing Central Florida communities through investments in early stage companies and commercial real estate. He is also a co-founder of Bright Impact, a consulting, software and fund administration company focused on Opportunity Zones. David has founded many early stage ventures across a variety of industries including software, marketing, ecommerce, and real estate. He has been featured in one of the most popular entrepreneurship textbooks “Successfully Launching New Ventures”, authored a best selling book on digital marketing, and worked with over 1,000 second stage businesses. Read full bio.

Comments

  • Ricardo Bueno


    Definitely in agreement with your thoughts and I think that social proof plays a big role in your marketing online! Buying decisions (especially online) are heavily influenced by social proof.

    Speaking of which, my favorite social network to date remains LinkedIn for the ability to garner and showcase testimonials (something I always share with new contacts/leads).

  • David Brim


    Glad you liked the post Ricardo. I completely see the value in LinkedIn, but don’t use it as much as I should.

    There’s only so much time in a day and there are oh soooooo many social sites and activities one can do online.

    Good to connect again…Hope all is well!

  • david


    I can see where you are coming from but really don’t see how it relates to the net. I did laugh when I got to the part about looking up,LOL

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    I think that social proof plays a big role in your successful marketing online! Buying decisions online are heavily influenced by social proof.
    Thanks for such a nice post. Awaiting for your next one.

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    I can see wherever that you are coming from but actually don’t see how it relates on the net. I did laugh when I got for the component about seeking up,LOL

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    I believe that social proof plays a large part inside your successful promoting on the internet! Getting decisions on the internet are heavily influenced by social evidence.

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    Well, I will not doubt that the video is interesting. But however, it gives only the idea, implementation – that is the question, which everyone should solve himself.

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    Harnessing the power of social marketing takes creativity. It’s going to attract spammers and the lot but the true winners are those that stand back and look at the big picture and figure yhow it applies to their niche.

  • Komodo Dragon


    Social proof is definitely huge, and the reason why alot of products make it big, because people give it that social lift if you will. Whenever you get a testimonial whether it be for a product, that speaks large volumes for your business/product. Other people’s words is really more believable than your own.

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    I often quote the hotel towel experiment to my clients when we need to convince them to pay more attention to use of specific words and phrasing style.

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    I like it. It’s sorta written in the anti-hero sense. Keep going. I think you have a well grounded plot and potential.

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    This article will examine how you can use the concept of social proof to optimize your website and make it more attractive to your target audience.

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    Well, I will not doubt that the video is interesting. But however, it gives only the idea, implementation – that is the question, which everyone should solve himself.

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    Such a excellent post. Its really a phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that people in surrounding getting more about the topic that in process. Social proof can help to optimize your website and make it more attractive to your target audience.

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    Well, I will not doubt that the video is interesting. But however, it gives only the idea, implementation – that is the question, which everyone should solve himself 😀

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    Great information buddy. Its going to attract spammers and the lot but the true winners are those that stand back and look at the big picture and figure how it applies to their niche. Keep updating like that.

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    Great power of social media has. Whenever you get a testimonial whether it be for a product, that speaks large volumes for your business/product. Other people’s words is really more believable than your own. keep updating like that.

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    I agree that the blogosphere is becoming more crowded, but the number of top quality blogs is still very limited. Hard work, passion, and dedication will usually result in good results.

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    Of course for any of these tactics to work, you’ll need to have sufficiently impressive numbers, so work to increase those two metrics.

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    You present an interesting and complex perspective. I am keen to do some more thinking about this in order to create a set of guidelines on creating social media.

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    Well, I will not doubt that the video is interesting. But however, it gives only the idea, implementation – that is the question, which everyone should solve himself.

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    Social proof is very powerful, just think of our elementary days, how natural social proof was, and even though we were kids, we would have kids that would just follow other kids, do you know what I mean?

    In regards to social proof in marketing, it exists all over, and every day in our lives, I know countless times myself that I bought something because everyone else was too, and because everyone else was, that made be a believer too.

    Till then,

    Jean

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    I think that Social Proof is not a new concept but it is definitely overlooked by businesses and entrepreneurs. I want to share with you a video that was recently put out by Shopper Approved with some eye opening statistics on how Social Proof can help with consumer loyalty and trust.

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    very nice and informative post. I think that Social Proof is not a new concept but it is definitely overlooked by businesses and entrepreneurs. I admire those writers who share the best of their knowledge in writing such articles. Keep up the good work and continue inspiring readers.Thank you so much.

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    I will not doubt that the video is interesting. But however, it gives only the idea, which everyone should solve himself.

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    I believe that social proof plays a phenomenal role in running a successful marketing campaign online! These days, buying decisions online are largely influenced by social proof.

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    Social influence in general can lead to conformity of large groups of individuals in either correct or mistaken choices, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as herd behavior.

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    She knows that we all look to our peers to see the correct way to behave. We learn this as babies, for example, staring into our parents faces to see when it’s appropriate to laugh.

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    I totally agree with the flock thing. All it takes is the right blog post on the right day for it to scream into the stratosphere on Digg or StumbleUpon. You get a couple checking it out and before you know it you’re exceeding your bandwidth on you hosting account!

  • Rashad Delveechio


    @Mike You make a great point

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    I really like how Dexter said “people will head over to your blog to complete the transaction…” So it all comes down to providing great value. People will not be able to resist and not follow up to the blog, to complete the ‘transaction.

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    Social proof is one of the most powerful psychological forces in our lives, and that definitely applies to copywriting.

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    the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed. Since observation of others usually provides only inconclusive information about what behavior is most profitable, the term ‘informational social influence’ is superior.

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    What is a ‘fool-proof’ solution to the woman suffering insecurity and rejection in our society?

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    hey buddy,this is one of the best posts that I’ve ever seen; you may include some more ideas in the same theme. I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post.

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    We might like saying we all want to be different and individual. In reality, most of us are influenced by what everyone else is doing: this is social proof.

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    did laugh when I got to the part about looking up,LOL

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    Amazing post thanks for shearing…

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