Secrets of Psychology 5 : Social Proof

Social Proof

  • People trust what other people are doing in numbers
  • Usually when a lot of others are doing something it is generally the right thing for us to do
  • It’s a very convenient short cut for to know what to do and what to trust
  • When uncertainty reigns we are likely to look to others for guidance
  • Everybody’s doing it. Simple saying but it has a lot of grounding
  • Psychologists call this conformity, herd behaviour, or the bandwagon effect. Marketers call it social proof

Everyday example

When you are driving in that motorway lane when you see everyone else going into the slow lane, what do you automatically think? I imagine it's something like "Well all these people are moving into the slow lane, they must know something that i don't". This is a perfect example of social proof in action.

Social proof - restaurants

Which restaurant would you visit? The chances are the one that looks busy and bustling. The empty one gets the mind working and questions such as "Has this restaurant got a bad reputation?", "Is it trustworthy?".

Social Media

  • Are you likely to trust a site with 3 followers or 3000?
  • If you have a low social media following then it’s better to have no stats on how small your audience is - trust factor
  • In the prospects mind of a low social following
  • Does this service or product really work or is it scam?
  • It’s too new to trust...


On many sites you will have seen copy, headlines and areas such as "Others that bought this, bought this too". Using social proof this can work wonders with many people adding additional products into their baskets. Other sections and pages include "Our most popular items are" which again uses social proof to sway the customer into deciding what to buy. The mindset becomes if others are liking X, then i will like X too.


Testimonials - restaurants

Testimonials from your customers can be very powerful It's said that the best salesman you have is your happy customers. A word and recommendation from a neutral can be worth many more than a salesman.

Along with testimonials put genuine and authentic photographs with each spoken testimonial. This adds authenticity and trust to your site. A picture is worth a 1000 words.

Pro Tip

  • In the testimonial counteract a common objection made for NOT buying your product
  • For instance: “It’s too expensive”
  • Counteract “I thought it was too expensive but the value got completely overwhelmed the price i paid and my business has saved literally thousands”
  • With a genuine photo could make you a lot of sales



Everyone has heard of Amazon - book giant, well now they sell almost anything. On their products they have used social proof since day 1. With the number of reviews and star rating beside every item. Persoanlly i look into the ratings a lot and it's a big decision breaker in what the reviews say.

Pro Blogger

On Pro Blogger they heavily advertise the fact that the they are followed by over 320 thousand people on different mediums.


  • Use social proof wherever you can - it’s powerful
  • Use testimonials with photos and counteract reasons not to buy with genuine submissions
  • Use popular sections and content
  • Use social media stats - if not too low counts
  • Don’t deceive! It goes without saying, again! These techniques are very powerful and used together can really help sales of a product and or service. Putting up fake reviews is not only deceitful its against the law

I hope that the above helps you understand social proof in web design.

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