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Social Proof 2: Man’s New Best Friend

by Creative Services | June 19th, 2013

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

In my last blog post, I promised more on the subject of Social Proof, so here you go. Let’s start with a recap.

As author Robert Cialdini explained in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Social Proof is one of the Six Principles of Influence.

Basically, we’re hard-wired to look for social cues that will tell us what to do, and what is appropriate. We observe our peers, people most like us, to find these cues. For example, isn’t part of the reason you read our blog to see what your colleagues or competitors are doing? That’s Social Proof.

Whether we realize it or not, we are indeed tuned in to what others around us are doing. Even children respond to Social Proof. Cialdini references the research of Albert Bandura, the psychologist who figured out a simple way to treat nursery schoolers who were extremely afraid of dogs.

Woof Woof

Bandura had these terrified tots watch as one little boy played happily with a dog for 20 minutes a day. After only four days, 67 percent of the children were willing to hop in a playpen with a dog, totally confined, while everyone else left the room. A month later, the kids were more willing than ever to interact with dogs. Phobia cured!

Interestingly, live demonstrations weren’t necessary to achieve the same result. Part two of Bandura’s research showed that film clips had the same effect, and the most effective film clips featured a variety of children interacting with dogs. Social Proof works best when the proof comes from a lot of other people.

“Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?”*

Yes, you are. Lawyers can (and should) be tenacious as Bulldogs, smart as German Shepherds, and protective as Dobermans. But let’s be honest here, coming face to face with one of these powerful creatures could be intimidating. Here’s where your television advertising comes into play.

The More the Merrier

Assuming your bar rules allow it, you probably have spots that use actors. These are important because they can help ease the mind of an accident victim. They demonstrate that you, a lawyer, isn’t so scary after all. We can even accomplish Social Proof with spots that simply utilize multiple voiceovers, or in some cases, the copy alone may suffice:

“Thousands of people have turned to us for help. Shouldn’t you?”

By using several diverse actors, voices, or clients, we can appeal to the most people and cast a wide net. Relatable people telling a reassuring message sends the social proof signals that calling you is the right thing to do.

*I managed to work a When Harry Met Sally quote, and a picture of my pooch into a cj blog! SCORE!