Psychology in Marketing – Social Proof

Psychology is a large, yet somewhat undervalued area of marketing. After all, marketing is all about understanding consumer emotions and what compels people to take action. Let’s take a further look at social proof and the various ways brands can introduce psychological marketing tactics into their communications strategy.


Someone holding up a phone against a wall with an instagram like notification printed on itSocial proof 

Social proof is a social phenomenon whereby individuals will mimic the actions of those around them in order to behave what is deemed correctly in a given situation. The term social proof is often used in both psychology and marketing, but why does it work? 


Consumers want to feel represented in marketing and will look towards other like minded people whose opinion they value. This is why people tend to follow the behaviours and opinions of individuals who they can identify with or aspire to. Brands can encourage this through online product reviews, user-generated content, experts approval, social engagement, and so on. These strategies increase the trust that consumers have in your brand because they know other people already do! 


The theory of social proof is often used in marketing to encourage consumers to make a purchase. First discussed in 1984, social proof builds on the human instinct to be drawn towards behaviours that the majority are exhibiting. Think back to a social situation where you have felt uncomfortable. Our natural instinct is to ‘fit in’ and act similarly to everyone else in the room.


91% of consumers read some form of review before making a purchase. When other consumers appear to like a product or service, it gives it credibility and builds trust, giving more reason to purchase. 



One major example of social proof is influencer marketing, where instead of multiple users vouching for a product, all it takes is one. This form of marketing is so powerful because, as stated earlier, people want to feel represented in marketing and this is what an influencer provides. By tapping into this emotional connection their followers feel towards them, they have very high persuasive power.  


Someone stood behind a camera


Successful influencers have created a loyal following through years of building trust with their audience. This is why brands will splash out on influencer marketing because return on investment is almost guaranteed. Many users will see a sponsored post from an influencer they follow, and view it like taking advice from a friend. 



Credibility plays a large role in influencing consumer purchasing behaviour. Research has found that mid-level influencers (25,000 to 1000,000 followers) are viewed as most credible. Influencers usually have an area of expertise, this can be in any industry. This expertise gives further credibility to the products they are promoting for brands. Of course some influencers are trusted more than others, depending on how honest they have been and how transparent they are with their brand partnerships. So it’s important to do your research before choosing the right person for your brand.


someone taking a picture of a flower flatlayUser-generated content

Nowadays, consumers are fully immersed in a world of user-generated content, another form of social proof

User-generated content is earned content created by the general public rather than paid professionals. Often you will find brands using this type of content on their social media instead of making their own. This is another way of connecting with consumers rather than having a one sided conversation. Sharing content of people enjoying your product portrays the image of desirability and therefore positively influences purchasing behaviour. 


To conclude, consumers are social beings and therefore social proof is a key component of selling online. This can be achieved multiple ways and having a think about what will work best for your brand is key.


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