This video shows you how social proof—the idea that we're more likely to do something if we see others doing it—is used extensively in advertising and online, in the form of testimonials and reviews to shape our opinions and behaviors.
- On my website, I offer a free chapter from my book. All I ask for in return is that people who download the chapter tweet about it. I like sites where you have to fill in a registration form in order to get the download. There's no upfront obligation. Rather than forcing people to give me the information up front, I'm tapping into the principle of reciprocity. This principle suggests that you'll be more prepared to do something for me if I first done something for you. There are some important points to bear in mind if you want to use this persuasive design technique yourself. Give the gift first and only then ask for something in return. Typically, sites make people register before they can have the free report, but this is counter to the principles of reciprocity. People will often only return the favor if it seems proportional to the perceived value of what you give. For that reason, it helps to place a value on the item you're giving them, for instance, by saying this report normally sells for $150 but you can download it free today. So they feel comparatively generous in return. Reciprocity doesn't have to be symmetrical. In other words, the favor can also be paid forwards. For that reason, if you say you've donated to a charity on a customer's behalf, the customer will feel the same reciprocal obligation back to you. There's an interesting twist on reciprocity which takes the concept a stage further. You can actually make a request of someone in order to be seen more favorably by them. This is known as the Ben Franklin Effect. The idea is that thanking you for doing me a favor makes you decide you like me more as a way of resolving the cognitive dissonance of just having done something you didn't actually need to do. It gets its name from an event that Franklin described in his autobiography. Someone in the Pennsylvania State legislature had spoken up against Franklin. So rather than fighting back, Franklin asked to borrow a rare book that this person owned. He returned it with a thank you note and subsequently, the person who had previously badmouthed him became civil and the two men started a long friendship. By asking a favor of the previously unfriendly legislator, he made that person resolve the cognitive dissonance of lending a book to an enemy by thinking I must not have hated him that much because I lent him the book. And he obviously shares some of my interests so he can't be too terrible of a person. So to use the Ben Franklin effect, consider these points. First, ask customers to do a small favor for you. Thank them for it once they're done but don't return the favor immediately. Now, having done an unreciprocated favor for you, they must justify it to themselves by believing that they truly like you. Be sure that the favor is successfully completed. Without that, there'll be no increase in liking. That suggests making the favor very easy to perform. Reciprocity creates a feeling of obligation. The Ben Franklin Effect creates a feeling of liking. The end result of both of these is that people will be more likely to do something for you if you ask them to.