Using Social Proof to drive donations on PBS

12-09-2009 BY bbulman

It’s PBS fundraising season, and tonight I was watching WTTW’s Hidden Chicago 2, and every 30 minutes or so they would cut back to WTTW’s studio where the wonderful Geoffery Baer would be trying to convince viewers to donate.

I noticed occasionally he was talking and sometimes there were 10 or so volunteers looking bored and waiting by the phone for callers. WTTW is missing a huge opportunity here, if these volunteers looked like they were taking calls, viewers would be more likely to call and donate. This is the power of Social Proof, where people do things they see others doing.

Ok, so the idea of having volunteers fake like there are calls may be a little “evil”, but why doesn’t WTTW do a text crawler with donations at the bottom of the screen, like Krisi B. from Chicago $70, Tom J. from Elgin $150, etc…

This would let people know that others were donating and quite possibly they would get off their sofas and donate as well.

Infomercial developers know the concept of Social Proof very well. QVC takes live calls from customers, which are obviously to convince others to buy. Other informercials tell viewers if you call and get a busy signal, call back.

Do you really think viewers ever get a busy signal?

These infomercial developers knew how to key in on many consumers inability to resist element of influence, like Social Proof and Scarcity.

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1 Comment

  • Analisa 12.11.09

    I totally agree. People are influenced by others, and especially by their friends.
    Your reference to “social proof” reminded me of a conversation that took place at HyperArts last night, when presenter Jeremy B Smith was talking about the power of e-commerce harnessing social graphs on Facebook.

    Jeremy used the example of Kiva Micro-Loans, if they were to set up a Facebook loan app, saying that if Joe makes a $50 loan and Sally sees that in her news feed, then makes a $100 loan, you have just harnessed both Joe’s and Sally’s social graphs to reach more potential lenders.

    If PBS had a Facebook app that allowed fans to donate $ directly within Facebook, then share that donation with all of their friends via the news feed, people would be inspired to give! And that data could show up both on their website and on TV via Facebook connect, and inspire even more people to give.

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