Social proof for digital marketers: A primer

By Andreas Pouros | 01 Jul 2011

Bar staff and subway buskers will routinely 'seed' their tips jars and guitar cases with some change so that passersby think that contributing is what is expected and are then compelled to do so themselves.

Can online marketers tap into this same psychology?

Advertising once needed to do little more than display the product that was being promoted and essentially raise awareness of its existence. That was the only real objective, with no major perceived need to persuade or position with any degree of complexity.

Then on the heels of the golden age of advertising, campaigns became smarter, and the most effective advertising campaigns were those that were underpinned by an acute understanding of human psychology and by extension, a more insightful appreciation of people's values and what drives them to action, i.e. consumer psychology.

With this keener understanding of behavioural psychology, advertisers began to actually try and talk to their prospects, as opposed to talking at them, an evolution that we can see immediate parallels with today with the growth in the importance of social media and its signals.

In light of this, taking a look at the role of the behavioural sciences and consumer psychology within the context of online marketing is valuable.

Invariably an entire book could be written on the topic, but the initial focus should be on 'social proof', one of the most powerful phenomena in the field, and how your key channels could and should take advantage of them.