Wikipedia describes social proof as: “A psychological phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”
Robert Cialdini, the Professor of Psychology & Marketing who coined the term, goes on to say that social proof “is driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more knowledge about the current situation”.
We rely on the input of others in order to make a decision. It’s like peer pressure, but more scientific.
How do you choose a restaurant? Or a hotel?
How do you pick a doctor?
How do you decide what to buy online?
In all these scenarios you have a myriad of choices available to you. So, how do you choose?
Maybe you’ll check what the industry experts think. Or maybe you’ve had a recommendation from a friend whose judgment you trust. Or perhaps, you’ll simply check online to see what other people have said about the product or service.
There’s one common string that ties these scenarios together: They all involve some form of social proof.
Social Proof is the reason we look up if everyone else is looking up, it’s the reason we choose a busy restaurant over an empty one, and it’s the reason 90% of people read online reviews before choosing a product or service.
It’s a concept inherent to human beings. An inescapable symptom of the human condition. And it’s heavily leveraged in marketing.
A powerful marketing tool for your agency
Every business needs to build trust. Trust is a key requirement to attract, convert and retain customers.
As a recruitment agency, your business is unique in that your main asset and your customer is the same thing: people. You’re in the business of finding the right people for your clients, who – until the robots take over – are also people.
The better you are at finding, attracting and matching people with jobs, the more successful your recruitment agency will be.
It doesn’t need to be emphasized then, how important earning the trust of your candidates and clients is. If your agency is trusted by the candidates and clients that you’ve worked with, then you stand to gain a better quantity and quality of both candidates and clients in the future. This, in turn, leads to an improved industry reputation, and the cycle continues.
When it comes to building trust in your agency, social proof is the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.
Mistrust of Advertising
The modern world is shaped by advertisements. They make up the lion’s share of the revenue for most media, be it digital or traditional. And most companies, big and small, dedicate a healthy chunk of their budget to advertising.
It should worry businesses then, to learn that advertisements are becoming increasingly ineffective.
Studies suggest that around 69% of people mistrust company advertisements, with the figure being as high as 84% in millennials. This is a rising trend, with 43% of people claiming to trust advertisements less than they used to.
The reason behind this slow demise of the advertising industry is simple: People do not find advertisements to be genuine. People are less interested in what a business says about itself and more intrigued by what others have to say about it.
Social Proof for Recruitment Agencies
The best way to demonstrate social proof’s importance to recruitment agencies is by example. Let’s look at a typical journey for approaching a passive candidate (this can be applied to a client approach too!).
- You send a message (email, LinkedIn, Facebook message, etc.) to a candidate you’ve identified for a role.
- Assuming the candidate opens your message, it’s highly likely their next step will be to do some research (perhaps even before reading the content of the message itself). They’ll probably look at your website and your LinkedIn profile, they may even look you up on Google to see what else they can find.
And what is it that the candidate is looking for? Social Proof.
Whether or not that candidate replies to your message will be massively influenced by the results of their research into you and your agency.
If their research unveils bad reviews, or an out-of-date website without any testimonials or live jobs, or no website at all (!), or an empty LinkedIn profile, the list goes on; then the chances are you’ll never hear back from them. To rub salt in the wound, they could even decide to apply to your client directly (if you’ve let slip who the company is).
Afterall, why should they trust you to manage their career given what others are saying?
On the other hand, if the candidate’s research is met with positive ratings and reviews from other candidates that have used your service, then their perception will be positive. They’ll trust you. Even if the job you’ve approached them about isn’t of interest, you’ve greatly increased your chances of starting a relationship.
Simply put, it’s essential to build trust in that early ‘research’. If you’re unable to do so, you’re 100% losing out.
About the author: George Vincent is the Co-Founder of Preferrd, a reviews platform built specifically for recruitment agencies.