In 1935, founder of modern social psychology Muzafer Sherif performed the earliest and most famous experiment in social proof. First, he placed his subjects in a dark room to look at a dot of light 15 feet away. Then he asked how much the dot of light was moving, even though in reality, the dot wasn’t moving at all.
Each subject was then paired with two other subjects and they were asked the same question as a group. They all answered, out loud, a common estimate, even though they had previously given a different answer. And when they were asked again individually, each stuck to their group’s common estimate.
The experiment proved that the subjects are all relying on each other’s judgment to define reality. Clearly, people have the tendency to trust the common conclusion of two or more people than their own perception of truth.
Proof? How many times have you bought a Starbucks coffee because you feel you should be drinking Starbucks and not necessarily because you think it’s the best coffee in town? Probably as many times as you’ve seen a photo of a celebrity holding a Starbucks to-go cup in magazines, TV news, and your monitor.
Because anybody who’s anybody in the show business has been photographed displaying their choice of coffee for the adoring public to see, people have started equating “cool” with Starbucks. A Starbucks coffee cup became another fashion accessory: an item they must carry to show people how awesome they are.
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This is how social proof works. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best in your field or you are the finest creator that’s ever broadcasted on YouTube, or even that you have the most interesting content to offer. If you don’t have social proof, you’re just another coffee company trying to be Starbucks.
So yes, you need social proof on YouTube. Let’s talk further about the kind you need to succeed on the platform.
The Truth About Social Proof
There are many types of social proof but it can generally only happen in three ways. One, when a person sees the decision of a larger number of people as superior. Two, when a person has no prior experience or knowledge— or no time— to form his own opinion about what the correct action should be. And three, when a person assumes the behavior of others because he deemed those others as similar to him.
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On YouTube, you can use all these human motivations to increase your social proof and become the influential creator you want to be.
When you have massive video views, these views actually represent the “large number” of people whose “superior decision” to watch your video, others will acknowledge (large number and superior decision being the operative words). These views will become the feedback that tells onlookers your video must be good to have attracted such a high number of viewers. And these onlookers will want to subscribe to you and watch your videos because you seem popular and they identify— or want to identify with popular people.
In other words, your subscribers and your views are your primary social proof on YouTube. The more subscribers and views you have, the stronger your social proof will be. But not all social proof is positive.
The truth is, having no social proof is actually better than having a low social proof. The absence of social proof— views and subscribers count— on your channel doesn’t prove no one likes what you have to offer, but a low count shows only a few people like you and your content.
If you don’t know yet, you can hide your subscriber count, and disable like and dislike buttons and even comments on YouTube. If you’re still growing your channel and still have very low social proof, you should consider disabling and hiding these numbers in your settings.
Image credit: TezaRock via YouTube
Unfortunately, the option to hide view count is no longer available today. You can still buy YouTube views though, and attract organic views and grow your channel using bought views. This is how buying social proof can help you.
How Social Proof Can Help You
The number of subscribers you have tells people how many viewers enjoy your content enough to subscribe to you. The number of views you have on each video tells the world how much people like watching your creations. Even the number beside the thumbs-up button suggests how good of a YouTuber you are and whether others should watch you too.
When these numbers are high, you invite more people to subscribe to your channel, watch your videos and click that like button. Again, these numbers serve as your social proof on YouTube. They build your credibility up and help you gain more views and subscribers. This is why the popular become more popular.
Needless to say, if you’re just a newbie, you need these numbers to become somebody— or at least become somebody easily.
You can grow your channel and run all kinds of marketing campaigns to reach a wider audience and build a strong social proof. Or, you can buy social proof to kickstart your growth.
Indeed, this social proof phenomenon affects us on YouTube as much as it does offline and vice versa. Ask yourself, between two videos on YouTube, which would you choose to watch: the one with plenty of views or the one with views you can count on your fingers?
This is why you, as a YouTube creator, should care about your social proof. Low social proof affects you negatively while high social proof can bring you to success you’re dreaming of!
Be A YouTube Superstar With Social Proof!
There are many reasons why social proof works and they’re largely rooted in psychological tendencies humans have. And because of that, social proof is very powerful.
As powerful as social proof is, however, you are better off hiding them when it’s on the low side. It’s going to hurt you more than it’s going to help you. Negative social proof can affect you as much as a positive social proof can.
But social proof does work! You can either take advantage of it on your YouTube channel or not and leave your success to chances. I hope you pick the right choice. Good luck!
Image credit: GIPHY