take advantage of social proofSocial proof is important for any business, especially in this day and age when there is so much skepticism and uncertainty. In fact, uncertainty is something that is a major part of the social proof “thing”. The other reported main stay of the theory is similarity.

Examples Of Social Proof

Several years ago when out on a Saturday evening, there was an incident with a young man that shows the example of uncertainty. This is when people are uncertain how to act so they follow the crowd. This incident led to some “typical” reactions based on this theory.

The young man in question was staggering about outside the very busy bar where I was with some friends and eventually sat on the ground. It was late and close to closing and there were several people around who had had a bit to drink. With it being a Saturday and to prevent any incidents, the police were out as well. One of the police officers approached the young man who was on the ground and assumed he was very drunk. He tried to revive him and even threatened to remove him and arrest him for causing an obstruction.

There were several very bad comments from the crowd and also a lot of laughter on this poor fellow’s condition. In the end the police took the young man away under arrest because all he would do was grunt a little when they tried to revive him.

Just after the police took him away, a friend of the young man came around the corner looking for him. He had come to check to see if anyone had seen his friend and he was told that the police had taken him for being drunk and disorderly. The young man’s friend was very dismayed. It came about that the young man who had collapsed had a medical condition and he had left his friends to return home because he was feeling unwell. He had not in fact had a drink of any kind!

We all later found out that the young man had to go to hospital and was ok. The police officer who arrested him was disciplined because he assumed things instead of finding out facts.

The crowd were led along the way and followed the assumption too! Nobody was prepared to accept anything different until the young man’s friend arrived. There was uncertainty so everyone followed the assumption instead of finding out what was actually the problem.

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How To Turn Social Proof In Your Favour

A lot of the time people will act this way, but they also react to similarity. If someone sees a person who appears to be just like them achieving something or endorsing a product or service they are interested in they are more likely to take part or to purchase because of the similarity between them and the person they have seen to have the experience.

When you’re starting up in business you will need to get testimonials to give you the social proof  in order to influence the ordinary people who see your product or service, or see you as somebody they want to work with. You won’t have genuine testimonials yet and there is no need to fake them in any way. The important thing is to keep the prospect on your side and the way to do this is to be real and be yourself. Prove to the prospect that you are just like them. Leverage the results of the team you work in until you have results of your own. Share the proof of the support and training your team offers and stay real and honest.

The people observing will see your honesty and recognize that you’re not “pushy”, but helpful and they will be attracted by that. People who see a fake will show uncertainty and may well ask a friend about what you do and could get a bad reaction. This will influence them in a negative way towards you. When you show that you’re real and a similar type of person to them from a similar background who is passionate about helping, then they are less likely to ask others and see you a similar and therefore make their own decision.

Social proof is vital in business these days, but make sure you do yourself the biggest favour you can and use this to your advantage in an ethical way. Be YOU, be REAL and show you’re the similarity rather than the uncertainty.

To the future

Barrie Evans