What Everyone Ought to Know About Social Proof

I was at The Riviera in Vegas last Thursday for the Real Tech 2014 technology conference, and it occurred to me as I was looking at an autographed wall poster of Elvis and Engelbert Humperdinck that social proof has been around for as long as I can remember.

As a child in the Los Angeles area, I remember going to restaurants and other local establishments where the walls were filled with autographed photos of celebrities who had presumably eaten at the restaurant or used the proprietor’s services. Joe Namath, Rock Hudson, Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Tony Bennett—I’m dating myself here… aren’t I?

Nevertheless, this was the social proof of the 60s and the 70s. And… it worked.

According to TechCrunch, social proof is the “new” marketing. But… maybe it’s not so new. Today’s social proof is not so totally different from those photos on the walls when I was a kid.

Five Types of Social Proof

TechCrunch points out that there are five types of social proof:

  1. Expert social proof. This is when credible experts provide testimony or validate someone or something, such as when a computer expert endorses a piece of software or hardware.
  2. Celebrity social proof. This occurs when a celebrity endorses a product, such as when Barbara Corcoran endorsed my first book.
  3. User social proof. This kind of proof is provided when users or customers validate someone or something (such as a restaurant, a clothing item, or a store). My favorite example of this is when I shop for shoes on Nordstrom or Zappos and read the reviews before making a purchase.
  4. Wisdom of crowds. Probably the best example of wisdom of crowds is how the McDonald’s signs throughout the world clearly state “Over 1 Billion Served”.
  5. Wisdom of friends. You see this all the time on facebook when your newsfeed displays that your friends like a certain product or page.

How Do You Use Social Proof in Your Business?

Social proof is very effective. It’s what gets people off the sidelines and onto the playing field. Now, I urge you to think very carefully about whether—as a real estate professional—you provide your clients with any social proof. Do you solicit reviews on Yelp or Google Reviews? In what ways can you incorporate additional social proof into your everyday business.

Social proof needs to be an integral part of your business and marketing plan. After all, if it is good enough for Lana Turner or Clark Gable, then it’s good enough for you.