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What is Social Proof ?

When people speak positive about an app, and these testimonials convince other users to download this app, these are called social proof.

The Concept of Social Proof

Dr. Robert Beno Caldini, an American psychologist and professor for marketing and psychology, introduced the concept of social proof in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. According to his definition, someone who does not know what to do in a certain situation will look to others and imitate their behavior. This behavior that seems worth imitating is social proof.

This behavior is fueled by four different principles:

Uncertainty

On the one side, it needs people who consider doing something but are not sure about it. The higher their level of uncertainty is, the more important becomes guidance from other people for them.

Identifiability

On the other side, it needs trustworthy social proof providers. Thus, uncertain people are more likely to copy the behavior of peers who have commonalities in terms of age, gender, social status, or similar experiences with themselves.

Expertise

Testimonials become even more reliable if the provider seems to be knowledgeable about a situation. So the testimony of someone who has experience or is an acknowledged expert is more precious to ambivalent people.

Number

The more people show a specific behavior, the more correct it appears to someone who looks for guidance. In other words, hearing the same opinion from multiple sources makes it more trustworthy.

Social Proof in App Marketing

When promoting apps, social proof is extremely important. Especially ratings and reviews are crucial metadata elements for every app.

77% of users read at least one review before downloading an app. And 46% only consider apps with at least 4.0 stars for download. Thus, app owners must take care about user feedback by:

  • encouraging users to give more positive reviews
  • interacting with users who give negative feedback to convince them of improving their rating

Feedback beyond Reviews and Ratings

As app owners have only limited capabilities to impact users’ reviews, they must use other ways to provide social proof. They can include it in the app description, but also in screenshot captions. Here are the statements that are worth mentioning:

  • positive media coverage
  • awards that the app won
  • the number of total users
  • the number of problems that the app has solved (for instance the number of matches in a dating app or the number of flights booked via a travel app)
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