I'm sure that all of us have been in a situation when we didn't know how to act. In new and unknown situations insecurity about our behaviour is especially pronounced. In those situations we usually reach for information from our social environment, i.e. we observe how people around us act and we adopt the same or similar behaviour.
Also, we have all been in a situation when we acted same as the majority of the group because we didn't want to stand out or we didn't want to be rejected by the rest of the group members.
The reason we act as described is conformity. Conformity is defined as a change in behaviour or belief towards a group as a consequence of a real or imaginary pressure (Keisler & Keisler, 1972) and it's characteristic of majority of population.
In a series of experiments during the sixties Solomon Asch has studied conformity. Specifically Asch took a group of 6 people of which only one was a real examinee whilst the remaining 5 were Asch's collaborators. He showed them cards with 4 lines drown on to them. Two of the lines were the same length on each card. The task for the group was to assess which of the two lines were the same in length. Even though this task looked pretty simple and straight forward, Asch's collaborators purposefully gave incorrect answers in hope to find out if the unsuspecting examinee will side with the wrong popular vote.
The results were surprising. The total level of conformism was 36%, whilst even 76% of the tested conformed at least once (Asch, 1951, 1956). That is, they accepted opinion of the majority even though they were certain it was wrong.
All of this sounds interesting but what's the link between laboratory line tests and digital advertising?
If we look closer we will easily see that entire concept of digital marketing is based on conformity. How many times have you seen the suggestion to like a certain content and just as a remainder there was a list of your friends who also liked that content? How often do you see various contents on the Internet with statistical entering of how many people visit the site, how many likes and followers it has etc.? Stats to the average user are not relevant or interesting but those data hide different meaning. They imply imaginary majority pressure and carry the effect of siding with the popular vote. Even though someone might think that the opinion of unknown users that visit certain sites or have liked some content isn't important and it doesn't have an individual effect, because the individual doesn't know those people, but you would be wrong to make that conclusion. Let’s go back to Asch's experiment where the individual was also a part of the group, whose members he didn't know but still he sided with their opinion even though he was aware that their answers were objectively wrong.
Based on the all of the above, what conclusions can we make and how can we use conformity in digital marketing?
The conclusion is that every fan and every user is important. However, not everything is in numbers. It's enough that you keep reminding the users that other people are using your service or buying your products in order to induce conformists' behaviour in a potential client or put it another way to apply imaginary group pressure on the individual.
It's important to highlight that others are using your services or products via posts and advertising and also that others are visiting your web page. Let that information always be known to your clients and the results won't trail. Conformity can help you build a fan base, increase the number of visits to your web page and finally increase your sales. So don't think too long and use this really simple and yet efficient tool to reach your goals.
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