The What, Why and How of Social Rewards

Written by Martin Lucas

I had a great meeting last week with Jon Woodall, the owner of Space48, an agency specialising in eCommerce and Magento design and development. They’ve been running since 2008, they’ve won awards, Jon has been on the TED stage - all of which is great validation of their mindset.

One of the areas we discussed was understanding behaviours relative the shopping experience. A big part of this is the user experience which, in turn, leads to sales and the ultimate post-sale reward - a review.

Why do reviews matter?

We trust a review second only to a friend’s recommendation. It’s a point of proof which the brand cannot dictate and therefore it has a higher level of trust. From a neuroscience point of view,  there are two key reasons why this works so well:

  1. The Follower Mindset

The brain creates habits which are common across all types humans; one of those is the follower habit. You know that moment when you were 13 at a school dance and half the room has their backs glued to the wall (the boys) and half the room is gathered in packs at the other side (the girls)? All of a sudden a brave lady steps forward and approaches a gent and they begin an awkward dance, then another lady follows suit and on and on until a miracle occurs and 80% of the room now dance awkwardly in pairs. That is the follower habit in motion! I must add, the person who initiates the dance - that brave lady - is not a follower; she is what we call the innovator, the ideas person, the creative.

Here is the Founder of CreaturesOfHabit.ME explaining the follower mindset in more detail:


The truth is that humans don’t really like innovation. We don’t want to be the first to the pass; we are actually happy to be the 657th person to the pass. Why is this?

  1. Safety in Numbers

The brain wants to keep you safe. That is not simply about life and death situations; it’s about all aspects of your day to day life. Safety is keeping you out of situations where you lose control or look foolish which can be how others judge you, and your decision-making plays a huge part in this.

When humans were living in caves, we began to tribe together. We felt the need to be safe, and the logic of this was to team up with more and more humans for safety. So, we went from a cave to a tribe to a town to a city to a region to a country to a religion/culture.

SIDE NOTE: One could argue that this has never stopped and that we’re heading towards some kind of Orwell 1984 with Amazonland, GoogleVille and FacebookPlant as the three nations of the world.

These components link up when it comes to social reviews; it’s a point of proof which makes us know it’s ok to follow and do the same as others and that we will not look foolish doing so. Most of this decision-making and behaviour happens subconsciously; we are not aware of how we decide things, we just know we have decided and it feels right. That is a great aha moment when thinking about the world we know today; our brains do not evolve very quickly, it just so happens in the last 50 years technology has been accelerating out of the gates but we are still people who need social proof to proceed.

You can read a fabulous article by Oliver at Space48 about customer reviews.

It includes these awesome tips:


You will start to see an evolution of how these reviews are presented to you and asked for. Starting with Facebook Messenger, there are some awesome bots which allow you to send order confirmations via Messenger. This will matter more and more and spread across lots of social platforms, particularly in the consumer world. The reason is simply that we have a generation that is one step further away from email; they don’t understand the point of email and grew up communicating in a multitude of ways. Email is just one medium to them, not the go-to one of the previous generation. Behaviours change based on the tools at hand; the youngsters still communicate, but they just have different ways of doing it.

What won’t change is the need to know other people approve of the same decision we are considering making. Social proof is the ultimate validation in the B2C (consumer space); it shows your quality, worth and believability of what your service or product is. Case studies are in the same context for B2B.

I’ll end with some of our social proof:

How to Create Positive Change: DrugFAM, Westminster Abbey & 10 Downing St

How Thread Lab Achieved 75% Growth

Platform Growth: Supply Clouds is Raining Money

How Amirab Achieved 457% Revenue Growth