What is Social Proof?
Imagine browsing through Amazon and seeing three identical products being sold in three different shops — the first shop having 100 sales, the second one having 20, and the last one having only 3.
Which shop would you likely purchase from?
Okay, we’re not psychics over here, but we’d make a guess and say you’d most likely choose the first one.
You see, when making decisions, humans tend to follow the crowd. As social beings, where the crowd goes we go, and what the crowd does, we tend to do.
Social Proof (also known as Informational Social Influence) is a term coined by Robert Cialdini in 1984 to refer to the phenomenon where people mirror other people’s behavior in certain situations.
For instance, when you chose the first shop over the other two, you were probably taking clues from other people’s actions.
The same thing goes when you try to advertise your product or service. The more people “vouch” for your brand, the more likely you would attract first-time customers.
Cialdini explains in his book Influence, that in general, advertisers don’t have to persuade people that a product is good. All they need to say is that others think that a product is good.
So how do we use social proof to get our prospects' trust?
Social proof comes in many forms; here are some of the most popular ways to use social proof in your marketing strategy.
How to Use Social Proof in Your Marketing Campaigns:
1. Case Studies
Case Studies create credibility for your brand because they back up your business stories with hard facts and data. They show your prospects what problems you have solved so far and how your processes usually go. Your audience would also want to check your results to see if you would be a good match for them.
2. Customer testimonials and Reviews
People like to check other customers’ experiences before they consider doing business with you.
Because customer testimonials and reviews are typically shorter and simpler than case studies, most customers tend to check out these first. According to recent surveys, “about 92% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision.”
While collecting testimonials and reviews come easy on some platforms, it can also be tricky because if some of your former customers dislike their experiences, a review from them could affect your brand negatively. However, having a few reviews like this is better than none at all.
Here’s how you can get more reviews for your brand:
- Ask your customers in person or online right after their purchase/transaction
- Reach out to past or regular customers
- Offer incentives to customers who leave a review on any of your platforms
3. Past and Current Clients
“If Brand X has worked with this brand, then this brand must be good.”
Of course you can’t ask for reviews from every single one of your customers, however you can add a list of everyone you’ve worked with – their brand names and/or logos – on your websites or social media pages.
The more you add to the list, and the more familiar your prospects are with the names on the list, the more likely they’ll trust your brand. The names act as referrals to prospects who haven’t heard of you or your business before.
4. Awards and accolades
Another great way to win your prospects’ trust is letting them know what awards or accolades you’ve earned as a business. If you’ve won something in the past, show it off! Customers are more comfortable doing business with a brand that’s top in their field.
Aside from winning your prospects’ attention, having awards on your pages make it easier for search engines to find you — incredibly helpful for your SEO strategy!
If someone types “Top [your industry] provider” on the search bar, you increase your chances of being found.
5. Influencer Marketing
Ad blockers and ad-free online streaming make it easier to tune out traditional advertising efforts. Fortunately, these strategies aren’t the only way to reach out to your customers.
The rise of social media platforms have given non-celebrities opportunities to grow followings of their own and have influencing power over their micro-communities. Today, this industry has grown to $13.8 billion this year — a high jump from $1.7 billion in 2016.
Instead of directly putting out ads all over the internet, influencer marketing makes use of endorsement and brand awareness through niche content creators’ micro-communities where engagement is high. This form of social proof is especially effective because people tend to trust people they admire.
6. Share Customers’ Posts/User-Generated Content
Do not underestimate the power of user-generated content!
The difference between paid endorsement and user-generated content is the degree of authenticity these posts appear to the public. It seems raw and honest, and people like it better when they check out a product or service on real-life customers they can relate to. In fact, Buffer shares their Instagram account grew by 400% in one year, thanks to user-generated content.
When a customer posts something about you, your product, or your service, don’t hesitate to share them! When you share a post you are tagged in, you not only get free advertising material, you also encourage your existing customers to patronize your brand.
8. Share size of customer base
There’s something about knowing the size of a brand’s customer base that influences consumer buying behavior. So if you have a large customer base (e.g. served 1 million happy customers since 2018), don’t forget to mention it!
If you can’t share the number of customers you serve, you can also add stats such as the following:
- Number of countries your business is serving (e.g. available in 200+ countries)
- Number of (regular) sales (e.g. 1 lipstick sold every minute)
- Number of recommendations (e.g. over 500 5-star ratings on Amazon)
Social proof takes advantage of mass behavior when influencing new customers. This is why you have to let your audience know who has already trusted your brand and why they should give your brand a chance as well.
While your customers can make decisions on their own, influence is possible if you understand how psychology works in marketing.
No matter how good your copywriter is, most customers still look up reviews or other people’s accounts on their experiences with your brand before they decide to trust you. To make the most out of this strategy, make sure these accounts are positive, and most importantly available to see.