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Using social proof to increase voter turnout

You may think you’re not important. But the only way to prove that isn’t true is by having lots of famous people- lots of famous people – repeating how important it is. Register.

— Celebrities on registering to vote

Get out and vote! Elizabeth Banks has said it. Aziz Ansari wants you to vote. Robert Downey Jr. agrees too.

Even with large voter turnout in 2008, it is important to consistently get out and vote. Voter turnout fluctuates over time, with about 57% voter turnout in 2008 and 54% in 2012. Getting out to vote is an important responsibility and marketers have been using social proof to help encourage a greater turnout.

By using famous people to encourage people to vote, marketers are persuading the voters with social proof. Social proof is driven by the norm, and educating people about what the expected behavior is can change behavior.

The social proof demonstrated in the voting spots urges people to go out and vote, which they convert into social currency. Social currency being content that we share about having voted because it makes us look good. The “I voted” sticker being an amazing motivator and indicator of the desired behavior.



Celebrities and your every day person are sharing photos through social media proving they voted. People use this social currency to demonstrate being a good citizen an to encourage others to do the same, reinforcing existing behaviors and encouraging new ones in upcoming or unregistered voters.

While social proof and social currency are recipes for success, it demonstrates behavior and asks people to prove theirs as well, it does leave some additional room for more tactics. In Contagious: Why Things Catch On talks about the 6 different ways ideas can “catch on.” What else might improve individual engagement in our civic process?

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