The Social Proof Theory, popularized by psychologist Robert Cialdini, maintains that a person who does not know what the proper behavior for a certain situation is, will look to other people to imitate what they are doing and to provide guidance for his actions.
In other words, social proof is one way for us to discern what is correct through reference to what other people think is correct, especially during times of crises when we don’t have time to think and have to make a decision right away. Since this theory emphasizes the importance of social influence on our own behavior, it is also called the Informational Social Influence Theory.
~ Definition excerpted from Pyschology Notes HQ
Leveraging social proof in events at its core is about addressing the ambiguity of the etiquette and procedure of social situations by taking the lead to establish what the procedure is, as a marketing strategy. You are establishing yourself as an expert and thought leader.
An event is always a marketing tool, whether it is a personal event or a massive product launch. Remember to find your keywords to establishing a proper game plan review the following umbrella terms I’ve used since my course in Lovegevity:
The expertise in the product or service advertised must be transparent from the beginning when you start creating the buzz around the event to the end when you leave people wanting more. I believe we can all agree that wanting more means that you desire to make a sale at some point. What you have to understand is that you won’t always make an immediate sale or market to someone who has an immediate need for the product, but your goals should always be to create something memorable that promotes word of mouth and leaves a deep impression.
When using social proof, you are latching onto to the documented behaviors that have been noted to create this phenomenon to benefit marketing. In other words, you must know that you are banking on the concept that individuals are giving you a type power to help them achieve accuracy in their choices and actions.
What are those mechanisms that we adapt to our benefit and how do we change them?
The Multiple Source Effect
The multiple source effect is hearing positive reviews from various sources.
You can leverage this in many ways.
- Provide interactive booths at an event to test the product.
- Give away free samples.
- Provide free mini consulting sessions.
- Providing these services and products for review allow for you to establish a base for positive feedback when you provide and promote a space for customers to give their feedback.
This mechanism can, of course, have drawbacks if you do not research and promote your product effectively. If you are giving away free samples, but are unaware of the potential allergens, knowledgeable about the market you are putting your product into, or just generally have a bad attitude for the promotion, that can decrease your positive reviews.
You must also be willing to grow from the negative and give feedback to your past, present, and future customers when needed.
Uncertainty about the correct conclusion
With the many products available, people are not sure if they are choosing the right product or service they need.
To use this to your advantage leverage:
- Detailed explanations of your product
- Make testimonials of experiences from people who have used your goods and/or benefited from your service when selling products.
- Compare products without shaming.
Similarity to the surrounding group
Be cognizant of the types of events you attend and places you select to sell your products and services, or where you place your advertisement.
If you sell a product branded as “all natural” you best market would be to host an event targeted to a demographic that appreciates those goods and/or to buy booths at events that centers that market.
As we have developed the concept of social proof to marketing we have defined several significant types of social proof that give people a variety of choices when looking to influence their market, most of which you should be able to identify clear examples.
The five types include:
- The Crowd
All of these again have aspects of the mechanisms of social proof in them.
- Celebrity- Someone who is known. Someone that most likely has their pick of products and resources. Someone whose image is based on appearance and reputation.
- Expert – Academics and Medical Doctors. People with PH. Ds or years of experience with active participation in the field of the product or service.
- User – People who have tried and tested a product and can give their feed back.
The crowd – People wanting to fit in and not miss out on experiences.
- Friends – Usually people you trust to give accurate details about the good and bad of a product.
Ways of establishing Social Proof
Social Media Connections
Badges on Social Media and Websites
Media Logos of Social Media and Websites
Social Share Insights
Big Name Client Listing
Of course, there are the negative aspects of social proof.
If your product is disliked by multiple people or multiple people are dissatisfied and give their reviews that can hurt you, as well. Some consumers will not be concerned with the questions of;
- Did the customer use the product effectively?
- Did they follow their consultants advise as directed?
- Did they read the instructions?
They will just be concerned with the visuals.
So be sure to be proactive in creating your social proof and combating the negative ratings you receive.
How specifically do you use social proof in events?
When you plan an event, keep in mind that the outcome is to increase your expertise and ratings in the eyes of the attendees and seek to design the event towards that strategy.
- Use your insights to uncover the best product, service, or concept to highlight and build your event around promoting that piece and support it with other pieces you desire to sell.
- Use effective social media tactics to attract people to your events. Be sure to develop the most attractive parts of your event primarily, and give people a hint of what to expect. Release a small bit of information at a time, but release information designed to help individuals plan their attendance early.
- Give people useful freebies that are tied to the event purpose, whether digital or physical.
- Have smaller events planned within a larger event.
- Embed social media and technology into the event.
Be sure to refresh your knowledge by reading Event Storytelling, Part 1 and 2.
Try Klout or similar products to help determine the influence you have on social media.