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Social Proof: The Psychology Behind the Social Numbers

Posted In Business, Social network - By Techtiplib on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 With No Comments »

I was reading an article here on TechTipLib when I came across an article on buying Twitter followers. This is an act that is increasing in frequency all over the world, but why is it succeeding and why are people attracted to it?

The reason is an old concept known as Social Proof, and I’ll look at it in depth here so that you can understand why someone would buy Twitter followers, Facebook likes, YouTube plays, or other social signals.

The Psychology Behind the Social Numbers

Perhaps one of the biggest influences on early human development is something we all know as peer pressure. When someone within your peer group pressures you into doing something, you’re more likely to do it with an increased number of people pressuring you. One person? Big deal. Twenty people? That’ll get your attention!

The online world is, of course, much like the real world. Social proof in the online world is the concept of seeing a large number of people already following, liking, commenting on, or sharing a piece of content and wanting to join in yourself because of this activity.

For a simple example pertaining to buying Twitter followers, look at two different accounts. One is brand new and has zero followers. The other is a few months older, but has thousands of followers. Which Twitter account are you more likely to be interested in? The one with thousands of followers! That’s online peer pressure, and social proof, in action. 

Not only can social proof do this, but it can also help show people that things are legitimate. Say you come across a George RR Martin (sorry, I just watched the Game of Thrones finale last night) Twitter account that has around a thousand fans. Does that sound like enough for the writer of the books inspiring the most popular show on TV? Nope. 

Now say you come across a George RR Martin account with over 100,000 followers. Which do you think is really him? This is the most basic kind of social proof online in action. 

How can you make social proof work for you 

Beyond having high numbers of Twitter followers, how can you make social proof a valuable aspect of your online marketing efforts? Here are 5 tips to follow: 

  1. Use positive social proof, not negative. An example of negative social proof would be highlighting why people will suffer if they don’t use your product. You must highlight the positive aspects of your social proof to gain people’s trust. I’ve never had positive success with negative social proof, neither will you.
  2. Positive social proof is more persuasive than money. A study I read in the Washington Post showed that people were more likely to follow advice based on social proof than potential money saving benefits of products. “Your neighbors are doing it,” beat out “you’ll save $54/month” as influencers in behavior!
  3. Make your social proof real with pictures. Having a picture of a person next to a testimonial increases the likelihood that people will believe that it is true. Who likes being told something by a faceless website? No one, that’s why so many people include photos of themselves as part of their blog.
  4. Stories are the biggest social proof you may have. Touting statistics is one thing, but nothing on any website I’ve ever worked on gets more ‘eyeball time’ than a compelling story about how a product helped people. Statistics? Boring. People skip right past them. When a compelling story is part of social proof, engagement increases. Let your customers tell their stories and use them as part of your social proof.
  5. Influencers are the friendly bullies of the online world. When it comes to social proof, nothing quite matches the positivity of having someone who is really popular within your niche say something nice about your products or services. They’re able to “bully” people with their influence into believing their opinion of your product or service is reliable – even when you already know it’s perfect!

Buying Twitter followers and other social signals is about a lot more than just vanity. It’s about wanting to have a little extra bit of social proof on your side. Smart users will then use other signs of social proof in the ways outlined above, rather than just sitting on the numbers and hoping they’ll magically hatch like an egg!

Author Bio: 

Matthew is the writer over on the Devumi Social Media Blog. You can find him there every Friday, and at least one other time during the week, writing about YouTube, Twitter, Google, SoundCloud, and Pinterest in an online marketing context.

About - Hey, this blog belongs to me! I am the founder of TechTipLib and managing editor right now. And I love to hear what do you think about this article, leave comment below! Thank you so much...