“Plenty of folks in there!”, my Dad would point out.
Each trip to the entertainment complex followed the same dance.
There to eat, often with a movie on the side; satisfying four sets of dietary preferences was tough.
“Pizza, Tom?”, “Cheeseburger, Lauren?“.
Which restaurant do you choose when overcome with options?
The one with a queue.
Not the one with an hour’s wait—depending on your patience—but the one with enough of a queue to reassure you that it’s good.
“That’s why they seat people in the window, to draw us in.”
I’ve no proof that the restaurant servers were trained to do this, but there’s substance to my father’s theory.
I pick the busiest—never the quietest, at least—restaurant subconsciously.
On holiday with my wife, I bring up TripAdvisor to check the best-rated places near me.
I can’t help but look; even with full clarity that it sucks the fun of discovery out of my experience.
They may hate McDonald’s, but they certainly hate uncertainty even more. Nassim Nicholas Taleb
We yearn for proof of something being valuable, we hate to waste our time and we like to make the right choice. At the very least, the safe choice.
As Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in Skin In the Game while observing a packed McDonald’s in Milan train station, “Shockingly, Italians are seeking refuge there from a risky meal. They may hate McDonald’s, but they certainly hate uncertainty even more”.
We want the decision taken out of our hands. To not have to think when gauging the value of something ourselves. So we follow.
Social proof is stronger than ever. Because the world is online more than ever.
Gaining trust on the internet is now an imperative skill.
And a recommendation is a powerful signal.
- Applying for jobs?
- Selling services?
- Selling products?
Just putting yourself out there to see what comes back?
A kind word about something you’ve done leads to more kind words about something you’ve done.
Because we like what people like us like.
“Look! This restaurant has a queue!“.
It doesn’t mean the food’s good by default. But we tell ourselves that.
Decisions are made on the stories we fabricate. And the direction of our story is influenced.
Is someone with 100K followers—who someone you already follow, follows—worth following? Who knows; we can’t see what they’ll post next.
But I bet you want to follow them.
If you’re lacking testimonials or reviews, channel your efforts into getting them. Do great work, then ask.
Use your time online to build relationships with like-minded people. Those who you can help, and those who can help you should you need it.
Market yourself. Look for opportunities in more than one direction. Aim to never be without them. Being able to fend for yourself feels secure.
“But I can’t say yes to everything!“.
And that’s the point; you don’t have to when you have options.
Be choosy and cherry-pick. It’s calming to have choices and the right social proof brings that.
Monitor your actions to test this concept:
Oh no! You have a leak. Do you head to Google or call the plumber your friend recommends first?
You need a new read. Do you buy the book that doesn’t sell or the New York Times bestseller?
And the next time you’re choosing a new restaurant, see which one you’re drawn to.
It’s the one with a queue, right?