You're special, but not unique

If you aren't familiar with the tragedy of Jonestown that took place in 1978, it's really a striking moment in American history.

Over 900 people "drank the Kool-aid" (literally) and committed mass suicide in the middle of the jungle in Guyana near the northern coast of South America.

Why? How? and WHAT?!

I have a theory that groupthink will lead more people into/out of a movement than any inherently good thing about the movement.

For instance, when you're isolated in a jungle with 900+ people and everyone else is drinking the Kool Aid and laying down to sleep peacefully, you tend to follow and do it yourself. Even to that extreme.

This also stands true for people making purchases. Think of the cult-like following that Apple foster over the past decade. The phones aren't the best ever and they aren't cheap, but they're safe and most other people have them so it's easy to jump on board and feel good about it.

About 95% of people are followers and only 5% (or so) are the "initiators".

This is valuable information for any salesperson or marketing guru. Do for that first 500 followers or customers what you won't be able to for the following 5,000.

The first 500 are the spearhead, the influencers, the ones who initiate a movement. The more you make them feel special and welcomed, they elevate from customer to brand ambassador.

Again, think of what happened to Apple. People camped out for those phones and iPods, etc...

They also shared with their friends and validated the decisions they made.

They build the "social proof" if-you-will that their friends would look at and think "OK when I need a new phone, this iPhone thing seems really cool!"

Decision made. Brand accelerated. Apple becomes one of the most valuable companies in the world.

There are heaps of ways we can see ourselves and those around us influenced by this principle of "social proof".

Nobody wants to look stupid and most of us care what others think about us. We also seek safety especially when facing the unknown. Therein is the power of this principle.