Dr. Robert Cialdini coined the phrase social proof to refer to the consideration that people give to the decisions and actions of others. This is particularly true when people are unsure of a decision and assume that others must know more than they do. Because parents are so afraid of making a bad decision when it comes to choosing child care providers, they often turn to what other parents think including the appearance of demand, online popularity, testimonials, endorsements, and accreditations.
Parents often judge child care providers based on the apparent center’s success. There is an assumption made by parents that if a lot of other parents are choosing that center, then it must be the best. It must be trustworthy, and since parents want the best for their child, they will want their child enrolled at that center. A waiting list or the suggestion that the parents need to act soon before the class fills up can spur many parents to enroll their child.
On-line social proof can also persuade parents that your center is the best among child care providers. A center’s success can be judged based on visible page views, feed counts, comments, or ratings. Basically, parents may assume that if the website is popular and has an active online community, then the center must also be fantastic. People are also impressed if a website ranks high on a hierarchal list. They assume that a high ranking is a reflection of the quality of the center.
Parents will trust other parents long before they will trust something the child care providers might say. Though personal acquaintances carry the most weight, testimonials from other parents can provide powerful social proof as well. The fact that a parent, just like them, is willing to stand up in favor of the center will influence many parents. Of course, it is most powerful if the testimonial is accompanied by a photo and a complete name.
Another powerful source of social proof for child care providers comes in the form of endorsements. They are similar to testimonials but carry with them the element of authority. Experts could include community leaders, pediatricians, police officers or fireman. Parents will easily believe that if a pediatrician or a police officer trusts the center then it must indeed be a quality center.
Your center’s success is often judged by any accreditations that have been awarded by well respected organizations. Child care providers may display the Better Business Bureau’s logo or accreditation from such organization as the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Your center may also provide links on your website to such organizations because this suggests an affiliation that will reassure the parent.
People often use social proof to aid in the decision-making process, and this is especially true for choosing a child care provider. Parents are so afraid of making a mistake that they use such things as the appearance of demand, online popularity, testimonials, endorsements, and accreditations to help guide their decision. After all, there is comfort in knowing that other parents have also chosen that center.