Social Proof: Viral Marketing
We often use “Social Proof” as a signal as to how we should behave. Many look to others to see what they are doing and use their behavior to gather information. In this case, it has public value. When a person is new in town and out of their known environment, they look to others. This is the meaning of public value. And it’s used in viral marketing.
When a person is in a new town out of their known environment and looking for a restaurant to eat at, he/she would most probably go where it’s busy. They would choose a restaurant that is crowded, reasoning that crowded and popular has good food. Therefore, their food will most likely be good to eat. It’s unlikely that one would go to eat at a restaurant which has no customers while the one next door is bustling. That is what it means to use others’ behavior as a signal of information as to what we should do, or again public value.
If we want to know what we should wear on a given day, we might look out the window and the observe the weather. People walking around in raincoats with umbrellas might indicate there is a good possibility for rain. Therefore, it would be a good idea to wear a raincoat to and bring an umbrella.
So, we use signals by others as information to indicate what might be a good idea to do. This is particularly helpful when we are unsure how to act. We can only imitate others, however, if we can see what they are doing. If we cannot see it, it’s going to much harder to imitate.
If something is built to show, its going to be built to grow. That is public value. In the world of social influence it is called “word-of-mouth” when people talk about something. The unspoken triggers of behavior are called social proof. People are more likely to share or do something if they see others doing it.
So if someone see lots of other people using your product, buying your service, or joining your social movement, they are more likely to do so themselves. They will use others to clue them into what they should do. Again this only works if they can see what other people are doing.
What can you do to make it easier for others to see what you are doing with your product or service? The key to gaining public value is making it easier to see. Then it’s easier to imitate by those you wish to influence.