People don't trust their own judgment

Why do people buy bestselling books?

Why are there laugh tracks in sitcoms?

Why are we suspicious of restaurants that are empty?

All of the above are examples of when we look around to see what people around us are doing…. To help us decide what we should do.

We feel pressure to fit in with our peers, to do the right thing that is expected of people like us. This means taking social cues from others, and using those social cues to give context to what we think is cool (or not).

Another example: You're at a conference and you’re not supposed to be texting. But you look around and see ten people around you texting. No one is telling them to stop. In this situation, you’re more likely to take out your phone. “If everyone else is doing it, it must be alright.”

I’m obsessed with the idea of social proof and how it encourages customers to take action. Once you learn it, you’ll see it everywhere.

Most businesses could benefit from adding more social proof to their marketing because you can’t overestimate how risk-averse most people are. We really just want to fit in and be accepted by people around us.

It's important to note that social proof has NOTHING to do with your product features. You might "objectively" have a superior product, but that doesn't matter. Your customers are looking for social cues that your product is right for them.

To really hammer the point home:

You didn’t pick up the bestselling book because you did hours of research, compared the book against alternatives, weighed the options, and picked the book because you rationally decided it was the best one.

No, you picked the book because you thought, “Tens of thousands of people liked this, so it’s got to be at least decent. And even if it sucks, at least I wasn’t the only one who made the mistake.”

And with the laugh tracks: People don't even trust themselves to laugh at the right moment. That might sound absurd, but it makes sense.

For example, I once laughed when my history teacher said a comment and I thought he was joking. So I chuckled. Turns out I was the ONLY person in class who laughed...and he wasn’t joking. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to disappear.

Laugh tracks give you permission to laugh. Bestselling books encourage you to buy them without worrying about buyer’s remorse. Restaurants that are full are more likely to attract even more customers.

When you think about your own product marketing, how are you making it safe to interact with your product?

 

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Wes Kao