Social Proof: Everybody Calls a Lawyer

by Creative Services | June 6, 2013

This post was written by Nicole Melton, Producer at cj Advertising.

Proof is pretty important to lawyers, right? If you’re going to sway a judge or a jury, you better hope you have some. In criminal cases, “Exhibit A” can literally mean life or death. Proof makes all the difference.

In advertising, proof is also a powerful influencer, and in the Production & Design department of cj Advertising, “social proof” is always a hot topic. Here’s why. In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini lists Social Proof as one of his Six Principles of Influence.

But what is it, and why should I care?

Cialdini explains that if others are doing something, we are more likely to do it. This is especially true if we are uncertain about our situation. We look to our peers and follow their lead.

Take the example of a lounge musician with a tip jar. Any wannabe star knows to put some money in it before passing it around. Psychologically, that “starter cash” triggers people to donate, since it appears to be the social norm in that environment. It really comes down to a safety-in-numbers survival mentality, one that’s deeply rooted in our reptilian brain.

The concept of social proof has been influencing human behavior since the get-go. Eve ate the apple. Adam soon followed suit, not wanting to miss out on what “everybody” was doing. A classic advertising example is Dr Pepper’s “Be a Pepper” campaign from the 1970s. You know the one with David Naughton dancing through town like the Pied Piper of soda, singing:

“I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper,
She’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper,
Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?
Be a Pepper. Drink Dr Pepper”

Click here to relive the glory.

So what does this mean for lawyer advertising?

First of all, it’s highly likely you already have spots that use Social Proof as a trigger. Two examples are Testimonials and Client Stories. These types of spots give car accident victims the knowledge and “permission” they need to pick up the phone and call for help. These spots let viewers know:

  1. People just like me call attorneys.
  2. If other people are doing it, it must be socially acceptable.
  3. It worked for him, it will work for me.

Our goal is to have viewers at home telling themselves: “He’s a client, she’s a client, they’re all clients… maybe I should be a client, too.”

There’s more you need to know about Social Proof, but that will have to wait until my next blog. Right now I need to head upstairs with some quarters. I’m suddenly really thirsty for a Dr Pepper…