We tend to look to others to guide what we should think and do.
Did you stand up and give a standing ovation just because other people were?
Or maybe you checked a Yelp review to see if a restaurant was good?
If so, you probably were affected by social proof.
“social proof is most powerful for those who feel unfamiliar or unsure in a specific situation and who, consequently, must look outside of themselves for evidence of how best to behave there”
In other words - at time we look to others to see what we should think or do. At it’s simplest, social proof is a type of conformity.
Marketing and social proof
Marketers love to use social proof to influence us!
Here’s a useful set of categories for types of social proof from this article
which I’m sure you’ll recognize:
Social proof from customers and users
e.g. the customer product reviews such as on Amazon
Social proof from friends and family
e.g. your sister recommending you a product
Social proof from crowds
e.g. someone has thousands or millions of social media followers
Social proof from celebrities and influencers
e.g. a pop star wearing a particular shirt
Social proof from experts
e.g. a dentist endorsing a type of toothbrush
Social proof from certifications and education
e.g. things noted on an executive’s LinkedIn profile