Star ratings are simple, but they have an immense effect. They increase social proof, boost word-of-mouth marketing, and improve the results of paid ads. And, most important, they influence purchases.

So... What's social proof?

Social proof is "a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation." That's the answer you get by Googling "social proof," courtesy of Wikipedia.

Stay tuned. The rest of this article is 99% jargon-free.

If you're hip to the teachings of Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, you're familiar with these six principles:

  1. Liking
  2. Reciprocation
  3. Consistency
  4. Scarcity
  5. Social validation
  6. Authority

Here social proof goes by the name "social validation," but it means the same thing: People look to others for cues on how to think, feel, and behave.

This article is about e-commerce, so I'm going to add, "buy" to that list. Buying is a behavior, and people are more apt to buy the stuff others approve of and suggest.

Amazon made us star-struck

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Barry Feldman is the author of SEO Simplified for Short Attention Spans. Barry operates Feldman Creative and provides content marketing consulting, copywriting, and creative direction services. He contributes to top marketing sites and was named one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. To get a piece of his mind, visit his blog, The Point.

Twitter: @FeldmanCreative

LinkedIn: Barry Feldman