Getting Consumers To Say Yes: Social Proof

In this fifth post of about Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion I’ll write about social proof. I’ve written about reciprocity, commitment & consistency, liking and authority in previous posts.

Cialdini, professor of psychology and marketing, was in many ways before his time when his book “Influence” was published 1984. He lays out six ways you can get people to say yes, without really asking..

It’s worth noting that the effectiveness of all these persuasion principles weakens significantly if the person being persuaded is aware of the technique being used. In other words, the principles operate primarily at the non-conscious level of formin impressions and determining meaning and value. When they’re exposed to the light of conscious deliberation, their impact on choice declines.

Read, contemplate and learn following six triggers:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment & Consistency
  3. Liking
  4. Authority
  5. Social Proof
  6. Scarcity

I’ll write about each principle and show examples in six different posts.


The principle of social proof is connected to the principle of liking since we are social creatures, we tend to like things just because other people do so. Whether we know them or not. When people are uncertain about a course of action, they tend to look to those around them to guide their decisions and actions.

“Laugh tracks on comedy shows exist for this very reason,” Cialdini says.

Anything that shows the popularity of your site and your products can trigger a response.

Have you gotten good publicity? Mention it!
Received loving emails from customers? Quote them like Google!


Another tactic is to provide a “Best Sellers” or “Most Popular” page, as demonstrated by Nordstrom below. But by declaring these particular tops as the most wanted, Nordstrom has given them a sheen of desirability.


And of course, ratings and reviews a la Amazon & countless other retailers, are another fine way to show social proof.