Tag: Social Proof

Internet popularity and gaming the system

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In marketing these days, virility is everything. Why spend thousands on a TV advert that people are most likely to switch off of when you can make something catchy, post it online and bang, you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people talking about you and your company. Just look at Psy (remember him?); despite Gangnam Style seeming to be an accident, it really was nothing of the sort. Go back and watch the video with a neutral eye; it has all the hallmarks of an incredibly clever plan to hook people in.

It’s got a catchy tune, a singer that looks and sounds unique (to western audiences anyways), he’s doing all kinds of zany things that you instantly want to mention to your friends and, of course, there’s a dance that’s as silly as it is fun and easy to learn. Package all that up and you have one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of 2012.

There was no good reason not to share Gangnam Style, and as soon as the shares and the likes started coming, they carried on in a state of perpetual growth. This is the power of social proof at its finest.

Incidentally, Apple understand the power of social proof all too well. Their products are expensive, deliberately so. Sure, the build quality is solid, but that’s no reason to charge an extra $300 for a computer with, let’s face it, average specs for the price. It’s the same with the iPhone. Compare it to any flagship Android currently in terms of tech specs and it falls flat on its face; and yet iPhones are consistently more popular overall. Why is this? To those who value performance over pure aesthetics, it can be baffling; but it’s simple really. Apple is premium, Apple is expensive, and Apple is social proof that you only buy “the best”. It’s the same reason why people buy Sony products for their living room even though, objectively, they are no better than other big manufacturer’s efforts usually.

It’s all about proving yourself to be cool, in the end.

And if you’re trying to market online, this is something you need to tap into. Recent research by Sinan Aral has found that by posting a link that’s already supported by a few likes or other shares, he could artificially boost its popularity by up to 32%. This is supported by the idea that, generally, we want to share things that are positive and/or if they are negative, they’re funny about it. After all, no one wants to be seen as a constant downer.

So if you’re marketing your latest app, bear all this in mind, you never know what will become the latest viral sensation. And if you’re still developing your app and you need a Mobile Backend, look no further than Kumulos.