What is the one tool that is almost free, has a huge impact on individual performance, yet is rarely used correctly or often?

[Imagine Jeopardy theme in your mind right now.]

It’s not rewards – points, travel, cash or other wise.

Nope… it’s not threats of firing.

And no … it’s not nagging by kids, spouse, significant other.

What is it?

If Tommy Jumped off the Bridge Would You?

It’s Social proof.

Social Proof is a term coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book, Influence, and describes how people seek to copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation. Wonky talk right?

It means when we see others like us doing something, we think we should do it as well.


  • 89% of people in the incentive program have reported sales and you haven’t. Once you see that stat you are subconsciously (and consciously) nudged to report your sales.
  • 99% of the people in your region have taken the quiz? I’m guessing you feel like you should go take that quiz.

Simple AND effective.

No money. No extra reward. Simply showing the audience what the majority is doing. That’s just smart communication.

Don’t believe me – check this post on the “towel reuse” experiment by the father of social proof, Dr. Cialdini. Their experiment showed the highest rate of towel reuse in a hotel room was found amongst guests who had been told that most of the guests previously staying in their room had re-used their towels – almost half reused their towels. That was almost a 20% increase over the standard message of “protect the environment – reuse your towels.”

Humans are weird.

Leverage it to nudge greater performance.