We’ve talked on Girls Chase quite a bit before on social proof and its daughter concept preselection. If you’re just tuning in, the definition is this:
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people feel influenced to do what they observe or believe other people to be doing. The more other people someone sees or believes are doing something, the more compelled the individual feels to do that same thing too.
The most effective product promotions – from the latest Christmas fad toy to new video games and systems to Hollywood blockbuster movies to cryptocurrencies to political candidates to asset bubbles to, now, even vaccines – use the psychology of social proof to whip buyers up into a desperate frenzy to get the desired object that everyone else is clawing to get.
They use benefits-laden marketing, celebrity endorsements, interviews with ordinary people claiming to be desperate to get the product, and real (or engineered) scarcity to get the initial core group of desirous customers crazy for the product. Then they use media and advertising to showcase these desirous customers and spread their desire to others. As others see these customers clawing tooth and nail to get the desired thing, they feel a deep, subconscious pull to also get it, before the others get it first, lest they “miss the boat.” They will often feel this pull regardless whether they initially wanted the item or not.
You have probably witnessed many such product promotions like this. Some of them you may have watched from the sidelines, marveling in awe at the marketing machine behind them, shaking your head in despair at how easily manipulated people can be.
Others, however, you may have desperately plunged into alongside the masses, straining to be one of the first to get in, to acquire the desired item, to get the status it confers, to not miss the boat. Even if you understand the psychology of social proof, you may still have been swept up in it anyway.
Yet social proof is not just for product launches and promotions.
It’s for people, too.