Have you ever bought a pair of shoes because everyone around you was wearing them? Or started watching Game of Thrones because it was too embarrassing to be the only person in your company to not know who Jon Snow was?
Then you’re an unknowing victim of the bandwagon effect.
What Is the Bandwagon Effect?
The bandwagon effect refers to people’s tendency to do something primarily because everyone around them is doing it, even if what they are doing isn’t aligned with their original beliefs.
The origins of the phrase “to jump on the bandwagon” can be attributed back to 19th-century American politics and a famous clown named Dan Rice. A household name at the time, in 1848 he traveled all over the US to campaign for then-presidential candidate Zachary Taylor. A key part of his campaign was his bandwagon, and people were invited to vote in favor of Taylor by “jumping on the bandwagon.” Zachary Taylor went on to become the 12th president of the US.
The bandwagon effect can be seen in all areas of life: marketing, fashion, politics, and diets. From influencing people in elections to vote for someone “expected to win” to influencing the movies we decide to watch,
leveraging this cognitive bias effectively can help individuals and companies sell anything they are trying to promote.
Why the Bandwagon Effect Is Now More Important Than Ever
The internet and social media have amplified this herd-like behavior with which we are hard wired. Optimizing the online presence of your business is key to leveraging the bandwagon effect in order to attract more clients and bring in more sales.
5 Ways to Use the Bandwagon Effect for Lead Generation and Sales
So how do you this? Here are five ways to incorporate this aspect of consumer psychology into your marketing.
1 - Highlight Your Statistics
Nothing creates better social proof than showcasing how many people are currently using your services, or how many people you have helped in the past with your product.
Highlighting this will reassure potential clients that what you have to offer is worth their time and money: when they see how many people have bought your product or signed up for your service, they become convinced that they’re making the right choice.
For example, in their Twitter bios, companies like HubSpot and Help Scout include the size of their customer base to confirm their credibility.
Another way businesses can use this tactic is by showcasing any popular companies that use your product by adding their logos.
2 - Online Reviews
For most of us, online reviews are the type of social proof we are best familiar with and can greatly influence the purchasing decision of consumers.
Here are some statistics on the powerful effect of online reviews:
- 92% of online consumers read online reviews.
- 54% of people will visit a website after reading positive reviews.
- Most people will read up to ten reviews before making a buying decision.
- 94% of consumers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business in the past.
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Small local businesses should aim to get positive online reviews on all major sites. This can include Google, Yelp, TrustPilot, and Foursquare.
Although one might assume that negative reviews can only damage your business’ reputation, they can actually help grow your business by engaging with your clients and improving your business according to their wishes. A study by The Retail Consumer Report on negative reviews found that when business owners replied to negative reviews, a third of customers would either delete their original negative review or replace it with a positive one, and a fifth would become loyal customers.
What customers want is an instant, honest and personalized interaction between them and businesses. They want to feel like the business values their opinion and aims to realize people’s recommendations. A study on reputation and revenue by Cornell University discovered that each time a business responds to an online review, sales go up every time.
3 - User Testimonials and User Generated Content (UGC)
Getting testimonials on your business page from actual customers is a straight-forward way of leveraging the power of the crowd.
The reason why customer testimonials work so well is because of their objectivity. Potential clients will feel more comfortable spending their hard-earned money knowing that other people have purchased your product and were satisfied with it.
Sports brand Marucci does this effectively by adding testimonials from MLB players on its landing page:
Getting testimonials from existing customers is quite easy: just talk to your satisfied clients and ask them if they’d be willing to write a few words about their experience with your product. You can also let people submit their testimonials through third-party services such as TrustPilot.
Aside from testimonials, another good strategy is to display UGC (user-generated content) on your landing page. UGC from your own customers is proof that people are enjoying what you have to offer.
Dune London discovered that after adding shoppable Instagram photos to their website, which included photos of actual customers wearing their offerings, sales in which shoppers interacted with UGC increased by 82%.
4 - Influencer Marketing
As we have mentioned several times now, consumers and potential clients are more influenced by others’ opinions than their own in their buying decisions. That is the whole point of the bandwagon effect. So it makes perfect sense that having a person of influence promote your business would influence consumers as well.
Think of it like this: if you see that your favorite fitness icon recommends a certain supplement, you’re going to trust that recommendation, right? Chances are, you might even buy it. 40% of people bought a product after seeing it promoted by an influencer on Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.
In a study done by Influencer Marketing Hub, researchers found that:
- For each dollar spent on influencer marketing, marketers see an average of $7.65 in earned media value returned.
- Over two-thirds of marketing departments are looking to increase their budget for influencer marketing over the next year.
- The term “influencer marketing” has increased by 325% in Google searches last year.
- Content from influencers earns more than 8 times the engagement rate of content shared directly from companies.
While influencer marketing is hot right now and can do magic when it comes to boosting conversions, don’t jump into this trend aimlessly -- the key is to find an influencer that is the right match to your brand. You have to understand who your demographic is and deliver an authentic message to that specific target group.
5 - Boost Your Social Media Following
Since people will follow the crowd, growing a big following on social media is a great way to demonstrate social proof. When people see there’s a large number of people joining a movement, they’re more likely to join themselves.
Watch the video below to see this in live action. I’m sure you’ve seen it before, but if not, it shows a guy dancing at a music festival. While he initially dances on his own, he’s shortly joined by someone else, and then another one, and within minutes, there are hundreds of people dancing alongside this guy.
The lesson businesses can take from this funny video is that people are more likely to “jump on the bandwagon” when they see that more people have jumped on board as well.
However, upon hearing this, many marketers make the mistake of looking for a quick fix and buying a bunch of fake followers. While having a solid base of followers is important, quality always beats quantity. Instead, businesses should prioritize the gathering an authentic following if they want to bring in the rewards of having a loyal base.
Thierry Diallo is a freelance writer who offers copywriting and content marketing in subjects related to productivity, entrepreneurship, and marketing. You can follow him at his blog thierrydiallo.com.