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Three Examples of Using Social Proof in Websites

By Erin  |  May 10, 2012  |   Online Marketing

facebook like, an example of social proof

Social proof is an important psychological concept that can be used to build a better website.

What is social proof? It's the subtle, often unconscious cues we take from the crowd about what our next action step might be. Human beings tend to dislike standing out from the crowd or being the first one to do something.  People assume that the actions of others are the correct actions to take and conform their choices to the group norm.

Social Proof Concepts Applied to Online Marketing

Website browsing seems to be a unique and individual experience, but users can be persuaded by social proof examples online, too.  Savvy internet marketers harness the power of social proof by encouraging customer interaction, "like" or star clicks to indicate a rating, or posting reviews.  The more people appear to like a web page, the more our subconscious minds agree that we like it, too.

Three Examples of Social Proof on Websites

Here are three examples of social proof in action, and ideas for using similar techniques on your website:

  • Amazon Reviews:  Amazon dubs itself the world's largest bookstore, and for good reason. More people shop for books (and now music, clothing, household items and anything else you can think of) from this gigantic online store than almost any other vendor.  Amazon Reviews are a great example of social proof.  When browsing for a book, readers are much more likely to purchase the book if they can read reviews and see that dozens of other people have already purchased the book and liked it, too.  Taking a chance on a book sight unseen feels like a risk, but when a crowd is talking about the book – even a faceless crowd of online strangers – we are more apt to purchase the book, too.
  • eBay Auction Counters:  That little electronic ticker at the bottom of an eBay auction is actually another subtle social proof point.  The ticker displays the number of people who have viewed an auction.  The more people who have visited an auction, the "hotter" the item is perceived.  This may encourage people to bid up the price.
  • Facebook "Like" Buttons:  Facebook is one of the top social media platforms, and many companies, brands, products, blogs and individuals have their own Facebook pages.  To encourage customers to interact on Facebook with their company, many websites now display a Facebook "Like" box.  Site visitors can click the "Like" icon and connect to the brand via Facebook. If you've ever taken a careful look at the Like icon, it displays the number of people who have also clicked the button. Some sites display the Facebook profile pictures of people who have clicked Like. This is an important and subtle cue that a crowd of users are already flocking to a Facebook page, and another great example of social proof.

The next time you're browsing websites, notice the reviews, likes, comments, and counters on the sites.  Adapt the right ones for your website and put the power of social proof to work for you.

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