Following the masses.
That in three words is exactly what social proof is.
If you're not sure where to go for dinner, you can always look that up online and you will see hundreds of reviews from people about their experience with that restaurant....good and bad. Or, you can just go out and walk around in your city, town, and see what restaurant has the longest line.
That is defintely in your face social proof. Even if the not so busy restaurants have better food you will stay wait on that long line because other people are.
Now, I get that. We are hardwired this way. It's the "follow the crowd" way of being.
Social proof has been around for decades. One classic example is the Solomon Asch conformity experiment. In this experiment Asch, who was a psychologist wanted to test the theory that people will conform to the choice of the majority. Even if the choice is clearly wrong.
Asch gathered male college students to participate in a line judgement task. Asch divided the participants into groups of eight but only one of the people in each group was actually being tested. The other seven, who were in on the experiment, agreed beforehand what their answers would be, and the real participant had no idea about it.
Now here are the results and they were very telling then as they are today.
Each person had to state which line was most like the target line. The correct answer was so obvious, and the real participant went last each time. There were a total of 18 trials, and the insiders were told to give wrong answers in 12 of them.
During those 12 tests, 75% of the unknowing participants conformed and gave the wrong answer at least once.
In the other six trials when the insiders gave the right answer, the unknowing participant gave the wrong answer less than 1% of the time.
When Asch asked the unknowing participants why they conformed, he found that people follow social proof for one of two reasons, they want to fit in with a group, and they believe that the group is better informed than they are.
This experiment, even though it was done back in 1951 is very telling today. Social proof is a very powerful tool for marketers when used correctly.
Remeber the restaurant example above well the same goes when you are shopping for a product in a store.
You can compare items against each other and go to different stores to do the same. It is so easy to shop in a regular brick and mortar store.
Online is where it gets more difficult and using social proof is so necessary to showcase your products or service. You need to rely on the opinion of others.
Did you know that 82% of Americans look for recommendations from friends and family before they purchase anything or try a service. That is a high number. That's why Instagram and Facebook show the LIKES. It is social proof that people like what you are posting.
Did you know that a report from Minter found 70% of Americans seek out opinions from review sites or independent review sites before making purchases or trying a service, that is more than half, also a very high number.
Social proof is so important to us. It is automatic.
There are several ways to use social proof directly from your website:
So to wrap things up. If you are not using any social proof you are leaving behind thousands of potential clients that could have tried your services but didn't because you left the biggest puzzle piece out of the picture.