Social proof, confirmation bias and building a movement.

They say people buy on emotion. And they’re right. Generally speaking, consumers – even in B2B situations – tend to buy into a brand emotionally, then seek out information (a tendency known as confirmation bias) such as case studies, testimonials and reviews (social proof) to support their decision. But why stop at closing a sale when you can open the doors to a community of advocates?

What is confirmation bias?

Confirmation bias is the human tendency to look for information that confirms our beliefs, to the point where we will disregard or even unconsciously ignore information to the contrary.

What is social proof?

The term ‘social proof’ gets bandied about all the time by marketing types, particularly in web development and content creation circles where it’s used as shorthand for testimonials, reviews and social media support for a brand or product. But there’s more to it than that.

Social proof is where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour for a given situation.

In other words, we all have a tendency to want to conform, or to look to others to confirm that we are doing the right thing or that we’re about to make the right decision, especially in situations where we are uncertain, such as buying a new product or service.

And research tells us that case studies, testimonials and product reviews increase sales. If the testimonials and reviews are from friends, acknowledged experts or celebrities, then all the better.

What has this got to do with building a movement?

You can use social proof and confirmation bias to help you make a sale, but with a little more effort you can use them to make so much more.

Remember, once we’ve made a decision or committed ourselves (to a brand, product, service etc) we are all looking for information that confirms we’ve made the right choice, so provide your customers with that confirmation.

Give them reasons to believe they made the right choice. Validate their decision to trust you. Prove your worth as a brand. Build a self-perpetuating community that will provide the public confirmation and social proof you need to make more sales and create a growing herd of advocates.

Find out more about our copywriting and brand building expertise (and how we can help you create the social proof, confirmation and community you need). Get in touch.

Paul Leonard is an award-winning copywriter and creative director. He has plied his creative craft in the UK and Australia for more years than he cares to mention, working with clients of all shapes and sizes across an equally diverse range of industries. When he’s not building brands and crafting copy, concepts and campaigns, he enjoys running, drinking iced coffee and writing profiles about himself in the third person.