Harnessing Herd Mentality
First, an apology: we’ve been so busy with the day job that we’ve hardly had time to sleep and eat, let alone blog – things will hopefully be resuming normal service soon though!
Second, a question: was that really an apology or was it just a sales technique?
The principle of social proof suggests that when people are uncertain about a course of action – whether they should buy a new product, walka certain route or hire a particular consultancy – they look to see what other people are doing to help guide them.
Infomercials learnt this lesson when they changed their call to action from ‘Operators are waiting, please call now’ (conjuring up images of bored operators waiting patiently for the phone to ring) to ‘If operators are busy, please call again’ (we now imagine them battling to deal with huge demand): this one change alone caused a huge increase in sales.
Evolutionarily this herd mentality makes a lot of sense – if everyone was running in a certain direction, it made pretty good sense to run in that direction too (and quickly) as there was probably a predator coming over the opposite horizon. And although our bodies may have moved from the savannahs of Africa, our brains are still there.
So giving a perception that everyone else is after what you offer can be a very powerful way for brands to encourage trial. This means finding ways to exhibit ‘social proof’ that other consumers are buying – and liking – your products and services. Of course, social media is a great way to transmit this information – sharing on Facebook, Twitter etc. all actively supports the message.
But sometimes a little bit of scarcity value is all you need – like the queue outside the nightclub or the product that sell out 24hrs after launch: we think that if it’s in such demand it must be worth it. Anyway, we must cut this short – I’m afraid we’re just too busy to write any more…