Inspirations, deep thoughts, surprising insights, or random ideas on how social media intersects PR.
I never really thought about it until now. Everyone, including myself, bases their decision on the others around them. In chapter nine of The Content Code, Mark Schaefer discusses the idea of social proof. He defines social proof as one’s decision making skills based solely on numbers. For example, on page 193 he gives examples of social proof in real life, “There’s a long line of people waiting to get into that bar. We should probably go there, too, since we don’t know the city very well.” Once I read this example, and his others, it immediately clicked – I do this everyday!
I can especially relate to social proof from the time I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Although many Italians spoke English, it was extremely stressful to travel within Europe. My roommate, Ashley and I would constantly wonder if we were getting on the right train going in the right direction because we truly had no idea where we were. We would try to translate the signs as best we could but many times we would follow other crowds of American students assuming they knew better then we did. I can speak of timeless examples of this, such as when we waited on a museum line because other Americans waiting there too with their tickets out just to find out 30 minutes later we were on the wrong line.
This phenomenon is also extremely relevant for myself in the United States as well. I remember when I went to my first Mets game with my best friend, Kelly without our parents. We had no idea how to transfer trains, but we just followed the pack of people blindly wearing Mets jerseys, because lets be real, where else would a bunch of Mets wearing people be going? Truthfully we had no idea but through social proof we followed without a question.
Social proof is obviously even more powerful and relevant online. For instance, when I find a new clothing website online, I check their Instagram to see if they have a large number or followers, customer photos, and reviews in order to make sure the company is legitimate.