Use the principle of social proof to get people to adopt ideas, by tapping into their desire for relatedness.
There is a story about Steve Jobs and his team figuring out how to position the Apple logo on the earliest MacBooks. When positioned facing the user, the logo is upside down when the user opens it. But when the logo is facing away from the user, it looks correct for anyone else watching from a distance. For Steve Jobs it was clear: the user already knows the MacBook is cool, but her friends still need to be convinced. For the same reason Apple decided on white cables and earplugs for the iPod, instead of the more common black ones. The user himself can’t see the earplugs while wearing them, but other people can!
This is called the principle of social proof. It says that, when people feel uncertain, they do whatever they see other people are doing. They copy each other’s behaviors, relying on their relatedness to each other. People are willing to place a lot of trust in the wisdom of the crowd. It is the mechanism that enables fashion, hype, and mass hysteria.
As creative networkers you can convince your fellow workers to do something by making it seem that many others are already doing it. You increase your chance of success by increasing the visibility of your change. Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to be copied. When your idea is built to show, it is built to grow [Jonah Berger, Contagious].
This is why many bartenders seed their own tip jar by dropping in a handful of coins or bills at the start of their shift. It is why some book authors purchase their own books in the first week after release, generating “sales” to show to other potential buyers. And it is why event organizers always claim that there are “only a few seats left”, hoping that others will follow the imagined herd. As great business transformers we must ask ourselves:
Where Is the Social Proof?
(Image: Jason Ralston)
This is part 7 of a 10-part series about the Champfrogs Checklist, a simple tool for change agents to match their ideas for change with people’s intrinsic motivation and desires. The full checklist consists of Curiosity, Honor, Acceptance, Mastery, Power, Freedom, Relatedness, Order, Goal, and Status. The Champfrogs Checklist article is available for download via the Management Workout mailing list.