Social proof: What is it and why do we care?

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Do you remember your first day of school? As your mom approached the gates you were probably feeling a touch nervous. You were anticipating what lay ahead and imagining the scenario that would take place in that unfamiliar classroom. Thoughts and questions were running through your head, questions like: what will the other kids be like? Is my space case cool enough? Have I styled my school uniform in a socially acceptable way? You know, normal kid stuff. 

Fast forward a few years and while we might not care about the colour of our stationery, we still feel the desire to fit in and feel like part of a group. So much so that we often base our decisions or perform actions as a result of the influence of others. 

Commonly accepted behaviours or preferences impact our own – and this is particularly the case when it comes to our consumer behaviour and purchase decisions. We’re influenced by the stuff other people buy.

So, what is social proof?

According to our great friends over at Wikipedia, social proof is a “psychological and social phenomenon referring to people’s reliance on the feedback and actions of others to determine what is right and what is wrong in a given situation.

It’s a principle that has been used by brands and businesses for aeons, but the rise of digital media (and especially social media and review platforms) has basically resulted in social proof on steroids.

What does social proof look like today?

Today’s social proof takes the form of consumer reviews, testimonials, social media engagement, online mentions, and more. What makes this content so compelling is that it’s being created and curated by real people on third party and impartial platforms. As a result, the “peer endorsement” of social proof is considered to be far more credible and authentic. Because, well, it is.

How is social proof changing business?

Social proof is changing the way businesses and consumers interact (for the better) in a number of ways. Firstly social proof makes brands and businesses inherently more credible by championing the consumer. 

Secondly, it allows said brands to take advantage of external praise and validation from customers by encouraging and facilitating dialogue online.

What does this mean for you?

A recent study by Trustpilot has shown that 66% of interviewed customers said that the presence of social proof increased their likelihood to purchase a product. This means that 66% of consumers are seeking out and reading reviews to help inform their purchase decisions. 

If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re one of them. Help create a culture of social proof by writing and reading reviews that can be trusted at Hellopeter – a platform dedicated to equipping and empowering customers with the tools to research and review products and services.

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