New Research on The Power of Social Proof

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One of Robert Cialdini’s six “weapons of influence” is social proof — the idea that it is easier to persuade people to do something if they believe other people are doing the same thing.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Cialdini and his colleagues at Arizona State University recently conducted an experiment at a Phoenix hotel. They posted a variety of signs in hotel rooms encouraging guests to re-use towels.

If the message merely encouraged guests to help the hotel save energy, only 16% of them reused the towels.

Asking them to “partner with us to help the environment” increased compliance to 31%

Claiming that almost 75% of guests reuse towels pushed the rate to 44%

Claiming that 75% of guests “who stayed in this room” reused towels increased reuse to 49%

“To the extent you can convince that, not just a lot of people are doing this, but a lot of people like [them] are doing this,” you’ll get greater buy-in, Prof. Cialdini says.

This principle has potential applications in your marketing, from media advertising to in-store signage. If you can legitimately claim that a particular product or service is popular with folks just like your prospects — that “all the cool kids are buying it”, you’ve greatly increased your chances of making a sale.


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One thought on “New Research on The Power of Social Proof

  1. What is interesting is that I haven’t seen a hotel do it yet.

    Reminds me of the research that grocery stores would benefit by putting baskets at the back of the stores so people have it handy if they grab too much. They are also likely to buy more if they have room in the basket.