Authority and Social Proof

The principle of authority is that we follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. On social media this can often be boiled down to a blue tick.

It's interesting how a tick or two can change conversations on Twitter. Because they don't exist offline and it's often hard to tell people why you have an informed opinion before giving it, this is exactly why psychologists and physios have their diplomas nailed to the walls of their waiting rooms.

The brilliant psychologist Robert Cialdini even found that estate agents could improve their conversion rates by creating fake reception staff to handle calls. They'd listen to the request and inform the caller about how the agent they were transferring the call to was brilliant and had many years of success selling homes like theirs, which resulted in a 15% increase in the number of signed contracts.

Social proof is similar to authority but more crowd sourced. It's the action where those who are uncertain in a situation look at the actions and behaviours of others before deciding their own.

In the wild, this can take the form of reading comment sections under articles to gauge outrage, searching for real reviews and pictures of the hotel you're planning on staying in or watching how other people use an escalator so you know which side to stand on as not to block the thoroughfare.

It's often used by companies to nudge people through choice architecture, to help them make decisions better for one party or the other. This could be a nutritional guide or allergy list in a restaurant or a sign in a electronics store letting you know 70% of customers take out insurance on their new cameras.

I've never really been fussed about collecting blue ticks, because I've not really needed them. However, with new music coming out and a selection of bands having bag related names as well as the world drift champion using a similar nickname to me, it was time to change that.

As the approvals come in, it's reassuring to know you can own your own name and personal brand. It's also nice to get the wink that you've done enough to justify approval. Imposter phenomenon is something we all deal with in one form or another, doubting that you deserve your successes and generally feeling like you're blagging your way in while everyone else around you actually deserves it. Delusions of adequacy is a fine term for downplaying your own victories while doubting your ability to cope at adulting.

Outside of a limited number on select platforms though, life doesn't offer blue ticks. We could all benefit from simultaneously being kinder to ourselves and being mindful of who we regard as authories in our lives.

Please be kind, as my son says.