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Field Guide Term:
Social Proof

Social proof is the concept that people will follow the actions of the masses.  Positive social proof can influence us to buy a new good or trust a business — while negative proof has quite the opposite effect.

Social proof, while on first-glance seems simple, can actually be narrowed into 5 distinct categories.

1. Expertise:   People value the opinions of thought-leaders and industry experts on their respective domain. Think about how certifications and badges on websites make you trust a retailer a little bit more.

Download, Successful, Tick, Expert, Internet, Person

2. Celebrity:  This type of social proof often correlates directly with the way we traditionally view “influencers.” People often have a stronger desire for a product if they see it worn or used by their favorite celebrity.

Thumbs Up, Success, Approval, Yes, Boy, Man, Handsome

3. Users:   This type of social proof involves responses and reactions to products or services by those who have bought them. A common example would be user-generated content or reviews of a product or service hosted online.

Computer, User, Icon, Peolpe, Avatar, Group, People

4. Wisdom of Crowds:  People don’t want to be left out or left behind! This type of social proof involves buyers making purchases because it seems like everyone else is doing it…

Crowd, Lego, Staff, Choice, Selector, Vote, Survey

5. Wisdom of Family & Friends:  People trust the opinions of their friends, family, and loved ones. They are likely to make purchasing decisions based on their actions and input.