5 Ways to use social proof to influence others

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Many people like to follow others leads before making a decision to do something and businesses, schools, advertisers, and bloggers are using it to their advantage.   Many of us are oblivious to the effects of social proof.

Let me give you an example.   At the right hand side of this blog post there is a chicklet which tells you how many people have subscribed to this blog, to date there are about 2500 subscribers.   This is a form of social proof, it is a statement saying "˜Look, there are already 2500 people who have subscribed to this blog; it must be worth subscribing to'.   Little do we know it but we are being influenced every day by different forms of social proof.

5_ways_to_use_social_proofThis is why celebrities get paid millions to advertise products as the advertising company know that with a celebrity endorsement it could potentially bring in millions of pounds in extra sales.   When you see the likes of Nicole Kidman advertising Channel No 5 and then learn that it boasted sales by 30%, according to Euromonitor, you'll realise the power of social proof.

Okay how can you use social proof in your everyday life to influence others with the use of social proof?   Here are 5 ways to do just that.

5 Ways to use social proof to influence others

1. Use others behaviours "“ When trying to influence people to do something for you at work, for example get them to sign a sponsor sheet for you, you could say "˜Will you sign my sponsor sheet..' and show them a list of people who the person already likes who have signed.

What if there is someone who everyone despises who has signed your sponsor sheet, then you simply make separate sponsor sheets.   This is quite simplistic but I think you get what I mean.

Another example could be if you are trying to get your child to do something they don't really want to you could mention one of their friends who are already doing the activity you want your child to do. This might sound like manipulation, and you're right it is, but we all unconsciously use it everyday without realising it.

2.   Link yourself "“ Linking yourself simply means making yourself known and be seen with another person who is considered popular, intelligent, cool, important or influential.   Think about the most popular person at school and think about their friends, did you think their friends must have something for the popular person to hang around with them? This is linking yourself.   For some, it happens by accident and the influential person wants to know you and you suddenly have better standing in your community whether you like it or not.

3. Testimonials "“ For those of you who have websites you'll know the power a testimonial from someone in your field can have on your website sales or sign ups.   Using a testimonial is crucial if you are looking to sell anything on your website.   It is telling your visitors that others are using your product so it is worth buying.   When someone is trying to decide if they should buy something or not, using a testimonial cuts down the decision making time if an influential person is already endorsing the product.

4. Socialising to attract others "“ If you are trying to attract a member of the opposite sex, using social proof can help your chances of attracting the person you desire.   For example if your dream date is a beautiful blonde, then talking to other beautiful blondes will up the chances of you getting to talk to the beautiful blonde you're trying to attract.   How do you get to talk to beautiful women in the first place? Simple, hang out with people your workplace who know you well and you get on reasonably well with.   When you are seen with other beautiful people it will increase your chances of other beautiful people being attracted to you.   Sad but true.

5. Socially brave "“ A lot of people are scared of one thing or another.   If you want to overcome a certain fear observe someone similar to yourself who is also afraid but manages to overcome it.   This will help you bypass some of the doubt you have and give you the courage to go for it.   For example if you are afraid of speaking in public, attend a toastmaster's session and observe someone similar in age and status to you and watch them.   By doing this you start to realise that there is noting to be afraid of.   You have to be careful with this one also, as observing someone who is younger, smarter and more confident than you might make you even more scared.

Social proof is a powerful force in our lives and if we learn to recognise it we can use it to our advantage.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.