The Psychology of ‘Social Proof’ And Why Word of Mouth Marketing is the New Standard.

| Updated on February 14, 2024

Self-praise is something that should not be practiced and truth be told, the modern consumer is tired of listening to businesses yell over one another about how awesome they are. Surprisingly, modern consumers are far more interested in listening to what they adore about other businesses. 

This article will take you through the psychology of social proof and why worth-of-mouth marketing is the new standard!

What is Social Proof?

This term was coined by Robert Cialdini back in 1984 in his book called Influence. It is basically copying the actions of others to mimic their behavior. In the context of digital marketing, it refers to any reviews and testimonials collected by a business. So, when you head over to a website and they have lots of 5* reviews on their homepage; that’s an example of it. Just as when you do a Google search to find a local business, and their GMP map listing at the top of Google has loads of reviews; that’s also an example.

What it does is clearly demonstrate that a prospective business you are interested in working with (whether hiring their services or buying their products) is in fact legitimate. The more ‘social proof’ the more evidence that they are doing a good job. Also popularly known as the bandwagon effect plays a major role in building the trust factor. 

What is the Psychology of Social Proof?

It’s actually rather simple: it is not so dissimilar to “keeping up with the Jones’s”. When you come in contact with a brand that has overwhelming social proof and all of their clients/customers have nothing but positive things to say about them, a little spark in your mind makes us feel more compelled to work with them. It’s kind of like a fear of missing out (aka FOMO).  In layman’s terms, if two million people have bought a book and enjoyed reading it, most of the crowd is most likely to jump on the train and read it. 

Take for instance, “200 customers purchased these black cargo pants in the last 24 hours”, “over 20000 copies are sold”,  and “100000 + downloads”, these create a sense of urgency in the minds of the buyer, that they are missing out on a big thing. By seeing these taglines, customers usually go for collective buying as they go by this herd mentality. 

Take this PPC agency in Dubai as a great example: on their website, they draw attention to the fact that they have over 500+ 5* reviews. Not only that, but they go one further and include over 100 real-life case studies from their previous and existing clients.

What this does is automatically overcome some of the biggest objections that digital marketing agencies face:

  • How do I know you are legit?
  • How can I be certain you will deliver good results?

When there are so many positive reviews (not to mention genuine case studies to boot), it is very difficult to resist.

There are various ways to incorporate this into your marketing strategies like case studies, testimonials, reviews by existing customers and clients, and Influencer marketing but the most trending one is word-of-mouth marketing. 

Why is Word-Of-Mouth Marketing the New Standard?

Of course, there are many different ways to market your business online and you should be open to all of them. However, there’s something truly remarkable about word-of-mouth marketing because the primary driving force behind your results is your audience!

Think about an amazing dinner that you had at any restaurant or any latest cosmetic product that you tried lately and you love it. The next thing that you do is share your experience and maybe post it on your Instagram. However, behind all this free branding is the positive impact the service created, the trust that the customer built by testing your services. In this case, the hospitality, the food, and the ambiance of the restaurant made a lasting impression. 

In other words, the greater the value you offer your customers – and indeed the more positive an experience you provide – the far more likely they will be to recommend you to their friends, family members, and colleagues.

When you create a culture of customer care and encourage your clients to leave feedback for the world to see, it gets tongues wagging and ultimately leads to even more conversions!

Word of mouth is getting more attention because the recommendation comes from your close friend, colleague, family member, or someone within your close circle. You are much more likely to buy a product that your cousin or a friend has tested, rather than experimenting with new products.  

According to a 2019 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey, out of 28,000 internet respondents from 56 countries, 91% of the customers trust the recommendations from their close circle. 

Final Thoughts

Let’s put it this way: if you went to a bar and randomly met an author that you’ve never heard of and they insist that they are the new Shakespeare and that you must read their books; how inclined will you be to go online and spend your money?Not very.

On the other hand, if you go to a bar and throughout the night you happen to talk to several different people who each recommended this new up-and-coming author who just so happened to have dropped a brand-new book that is a must-read…You’d likely feel far more compelled to check them out!

Word of mouth – and social proof – carries far more weight than “self-praise”. So, change your messaging, bolster your customer care, encourage everyone to leave feedback, and respond to all reviews politely and constructively. 





Alex Jones

Education

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