2nd Principle of Influence – Social Proof
2: Social Proof
People often look for cues from others when they are unsure about what to do. They want to know the behavior of others, especially their peers, in the same situation. Cialdini explains that this is why comedy shows use laugh tracks to influence the audience.
Cialdini and his colleagues conducted an experiment wherein they wanted to find out which kinds of signs would make Arizona hotel guests reuse their towels more. They tried four different signs:
#1 Mentioned environmental benefits of reusing towels
#2 Promised to donate some of the money saved from laundry to an environmental cause
#3 Said the hotel had already made a donation and asked: “Will you please join us?”
#4 Said most guests reused their towels at least once during their stay Percentage of guests who reused towels per request:
- Sign #1: 38%
- Sign #2: 36%
- Sign #3: 46%
- Sign #4: 48%
The guests were more likely to reuse their towels when they learned that most other guests did the same. Cialdini says, “What I find most interesting is that the most effective strategy didn’t cost the hotel anything. But I’ve never seen any hotel use it in any city.”
Application for marketers:
Testimonials from happy customers show your target audience that people like them have enjoyed your product or service. This can make them more likely to become customers themselves. The same principle applies to TV ads that say: “If our lines are busy, please call again.” Instead of saying “Operators are standing by.” The first message suggests that your offer is so popular that the phone lines are busy, which can motivate others to act similarly.