Peer Pressure

This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

Engagement > Persuasiveness>

Social Proof

The King can't be wrong
On vacation, you find yourself on St. Marks Place in New York. It's past lunch and you're hungry. there are two pizza shops with take away windows on either side of the street. There’s a long line at the window on the other side of the road, and only two people waiting at the window on your side. You cross the road to buy your slice.

Social proof is like peer pressure, or to put it more positively, the wisdom of the crowd. We read the actions or words of others as signs of where we should invest our own resources. For example, you might listen to a new song simply because it’s leading the “What’s Hot” list in the store. Similarly, you might check the Top Apps list to see if there is anything you should download.

Web stores put star ratings, downloads, and reviews on prominent display because they give social proof of the quality of product. Consumers believe that if others like a product, they will too. People are more strongly persuaded when they believe that the people who like the product are similar to them. Amazon uses this principle when it recommends books that people like us have bought.
Amazon shows social proof of product quality

Ideally, your proposition will go viral, and your customers will spread the word for you. Research shows that 70% percent of US online adults trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family and 46% trust consumer-written online reviews, while just 10% trust ads on websites and 9% trust text messages from companies or brands ((Forrester Research 2013).

Bottom Line:

  • Show proof that your proposition is popular.
  • Provide evidence that people like your customer believe in your proposition.
  • Show that your proposition in popular among your customer’s peers.

Join the countless (go ahead, count them!) people like you who have benefitted from these posts. Tell your friends! Leave a comment below. Please engage.

This post is part of a series on building customer engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.


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