Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Use social proof, part of Influencing Others.
The seventh method is use social proof, especially under conditions of uncertainty we tend to look to others like us, or in a similar situation to help us decide what to do. That's where the term comes from. We often look to other people for proof. It's not new. Centuries ago at the opera in Italy, people offered their applause services for a graduated scale of fees. The more enthusiastic the cheers, the higher the charge. They got hired consistently because these planted applauders would trigger more cheers from the overall audience, who didn't even realize the effect on their behavior.
The evidence of social proof is vast. In another example, signs in hotel rooms with a standard message saying, help save our environment by reusing towels, were replaced with a message that said, lots of people are reusing towels. Join your fellow guests who are helping save the environment. Towel re-use increased by 26%. Here's what to do. First, point out trends in opinion or behavior, using surveys, polls, purchase rates, and so forth that point in the direction you want people to behave.
Second, give testimonials or share success stories from individuals, teams, or organizations as similar as possible to those you're trying to persuade. If it's a teenager, use a success story about a similar teenager. If it's a corporate leader, reference other corporate leaders. Third and finally, beware of negative social proof. Drawing attention to groups of people doing what you don't want. It backfires. In the Petrified Forest in Arizona, they faced a crisis of people taking the limited supply of natural artifacts.
Where well intended signs were added that asked for help, because so many past visitors had removed petrified wood from the park, theft actually increased. In fact it almost tripled compared to trails where there were no signs at all. Why? Social proof amplified the negative behavior instead of the positive behavior. So use it carefully. Social proof is powerful. Show how others did it, to help the people you influence do it too.
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- Turning objections into actions
- Adding more impact to your ideas
- Establishing urgency
- Using the influence advantage checklist
- Influencing to inspire
- And many more...