What’s new about social proof?

At your local fruit and veg market, the stall holder doesn’t just serve you and take your money. He or she is quite likely to loudly tell everyone in earshot (and that’s a long way for a market trader) what you’ve bought. The other prospective customers hear that you bought a lovely bunch of bananas (or even coconuts.)

When you’re looking for somewhere to eat in unfamiliar circumstances, you are likely to look for the restaurant that is busy and avoid the one that is empty. You can see that other people are eating there, so it must be ok.

If you go to a trade show or an exhibition, you will pass by the stands with no visitors but if there’s a crowd gathered around a stand, you will wonder “What’s going on there?” and perhaps join the throng.

I keep hearing about this new thing “Social Proof” which I think of as “the reassurance that people like me are buying this product that I am considering” and examples abound all over the internet, from Amazon reviews through to holiday sites offering user ratings and the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) with film and TV show ratings.

I don’t buy anything without checking the reviews, and I don’t think I am alone. How many times do you see the word “trust” used in marketing efforts today?

If your marketing material and your website don’t contain customer testimonials and reviews, you are like the lonely exhibitor with no one to talk to. They are all over at the busy stand. Worse than that, the prospect who is considering you may look at the lack of reviews and decide they are the one making the mistake. No-one else is buying from here, that’s a big risk, too big a risk for me. I’ll find an alternative where there’s some proof.

Social proof isn’t new – but gaining access to it as a buyer is easier than ever. Ignore it at your peril, get those testimonials and reviews

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