In short, social proof means that people do what they see others doing.
For example, in a social experiment conducted by Cialdini, one or more (anonymous) researchers looked up at the sky, causing bystanders to stop and look up to see what the first person was looking at.
At one point in the experiment, so many people paused to look up that they stopped traffic and the researchers were forced to stop the experiment.
As it applies to everyday life, another example of social proof, as outlined by author Neil Strauss, is when a man who walks into a party with several friends and/or a beautiful woman.
He attracts more people—especially more women—to him throughout the evening. This is because he has provided social proof that he’s cool, intriguing, or engaging enough to have already attracted the people with whom he’s currently engaged.
He has effectively proven he has value—higher value, in fact, than the man who walks in alone and stands silently in the corner or the guy at the bar delivering a pick-up line to an unknown woman.
Why You Should Care About Social Proof
Well, look at your online presence and personal brand– what do people see when they Google your name?
Human nature dictates they will make initial assumptions about you and your skills based on the social proof provided to them via their most convenient reference tool – that first search result page.
Technology can and will be used both to your advantage and disadvantage, so it’s important to stay abreast of what people find when they search for you.
If you have any negative or non-positive results, create some content and publish it on a higher-authority site, such as a high-traffic blog, in order to push the other material down under the fold.
It’s true – Google never forgets, but, with a little effort, you can leverage what appears in search results, improve your overall online presence and increase your social proof of expertise while backing up up your personal brand.
Originally posted on The Personal Branding Blog