Brands and organizations have always used human psychology to drive their marketing campaigns. And the results have been astounding. That’s why most of the marketing strategies find their roots in basic psychological science.
One such strategy is social proof.
As a business owner, you need sales because they translate into revenue. There’s no questioning that. So, in this article, we will discuss how you can incorporate social proof in your marketing strategy and increase your sales.
But for the uninitiated, let’s begin with explaining what social proof is and how it can work wonders on a business’s bottom line.
What is social proof?
Have you ever bought from a brand your friend couldn’t stop raving about? Or have you differentiated between two products based on their reviews and picked the ones with better reviews? If yes, then you have been influenced by social proof.Social proof is a psychological principle that has been reigning the marketing avenues for decades. It builds upon our natural tendency to follow the crowd and leverages herd mentality to alter our thought process.
When used in marketing, social proof reflects a brand’s reliability, credibility and worth, ultimately shaping a person’s buying decision.
You see, humans have a natural tendency to do what others are doing. Regardless of how “independent” or “unique” we pretend to be, our company influences us at a subconscious level. You see your favorite celebrity endorsing a brand and you have a desire to buy its products.
Brands use this tendency to attract customers.
Social proof manifests in many forms. It could be any content that validates your worth and vouches for your reliability.
If we talk about our typical sales funnel, social proof comes in the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey. You hit your prospects with proof of your value when they are weighing you against your competitors and convince them to buy from you.
How can social proof drive your growth?
There are many ways social proof influences your business bottom line. We will discuss a couple of them here to help you understand its importance, especially in eCommerce.
Social proof provides authentic content that people can trust
When was the last time you made an online purchase without checking the product reviews first? 91% consumers read online reviews before buying.
eCommerce has made it easier for people to shop. But it has stripped them off of physically inspecting the product before investing their money in it.
Social proof compensates for this loss by providing users with original and authentic information about a product they need to decide on.
Social proof imparts reliability and builds trust between the brand and its prospects. It helps them trust a brand enough to give it their money and eventually leads to a sale.
Social proof builds reliability
When you see people gushing about a brand and raving about their products and services, you subconsciously associate value with that brand.
Social proof builds positive brand perception. It attracts customers who are sure that the brand is reliable because they have seen so many people talking about it or their friends benefiting from its services.
For example, consider two brands, A and B. Brand A uses social proof and lets its prospects know how much its customers love it by regularly posting user reviews, testimonials, and whatnot. In comparison, brand B believes quality matters above all and pays no heed to social proof.
Now when a customer chooses between brand A and brand B, who do you think they will pick? Brand A with good quality product and social proof to vouch for it, or brand B with a good quality product but nothing to support their claims? Of course, a majority of the customers will go with product A.
Why? Because brand’s A usage of social proof allows it to appear more reliable in the eyes of its prospects.
If you are still unsure about the potential of social proof, this case study might convince you.
Yotpo, an eCommerce marketing platform, combines social proof with Facebook ads to drive better engagement. And in research, they found that including UGC in advertisement on Facebook results in 4x higher CTR and a 50% reduced Cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition.
The reason? People trust social proof.
Types of social proof
If you think customer reviews are the only type of social proof, you are in for a surprise. As we said above, social proof manifests in various forms, some of which are:
- Expert opinion
You can use expert opinion as social proof when an expert in your industry vouches for your products. For example, Brian Dean, the SEO expert, recommending Yoast SEO on his blog.
This type of social proof manifests when a celebrity or an influencer endorses your brand and promotes its products. For example, Roger Federer endorsing Nike.source: The Sun
- User recommended
User-generated social proof is the most authentic among all. It appears when your customers provide reviews of your services or products.
- Crowd Wisdom
You can leverage crowd wisdom by bragging about the number of people who trust you. When your customers see that many people are buying from your brand, they automatically assume something must be worth their money.
- Friends’ recommendation
40% of people follow recommendations from friends and family to follow brands online. The ideal example of word-of-mouth marketing.
Certificates confirm that your brand is vouched by a reliable authority and build trust with the customers.
Here’s how you can use social proof
Social proof, when used right, can alter the public perception of your brand, help you build trust with your prospects, and drive more conversions. All you have to do is use it right.
Here’s are 8 different ways you can use social proof in your next marketing campaign:
If you read online blogs, you must have seen a social share button. The social share button help readers share a blog post directly from a website to the readers’ social media.
If you have a blog section on your website, you should use social share buttons to link your website to your social channels. Doing this will help you leverage social proof in two ways:
One it will encourage your readers to share your blog on their social media. And when their friends and connections will come across your brand, they will automatically think of you as an industry thought-leader, and when it comes down to it, they might choose you over others.
Secondly, many social share buttons come with a share counter which shows the number of times the blog has been shared. If the counter says the blog has been shared 500+ times, the readers will automatically associate value to the post and give it the attention it needs.
Check out how Backlinko uses social shares:Since we are talking about numbers, let’s jump right into the following subheading.
Let the numbers do the talking
The human ability to perceive numbers form the basis of our concept of value. That’s probably why numbers appeal to humans differently.
Consider two scenarios. One where someone tells you that x product is many times more effective than y product. Second where someone says x product is 7x more effective than y product.
Which scenario do you find more appealing? The second one, right?
You can leverage this human tendency and mix it with social proof to drive results for your brand.
We discussed above how social shares help your brand. But why stop there? You can brag your numbers and build social proof by showing your number of subscribers if YouTube is your medium of choice.
You can also use Facebook and Twitter follower counters to show off your clout and shape people’s perceptions about you. If a brand has millions of followers, it must be good.
Display any numbers you can use, the number of likes, shares, comments, or even views. Some of the top blogs use their number of views to alter reader perception about their brand, and from personal experience, it works!
Check out how Ahrefs shows off its numbers:But be careful when it comes to numbers. While big numbers can build positive perceptions, smaller numbers can do the opposite. If your blog only has 2 shares or 10 views, that’s nothing to brag about. You might want to keep these numbers hidden. Only display numbers that can build your brand’s reputation.
88% of people trust customer reviews as much as personal recommendations. Customer reviews are the quintessential example of social proof. It’s what your buyers turn to when they need to differentiate between you and your competitors.
If a product has lots of positive reviews, the potential buyer will automatically understand that it is worth their money. As opposed to this, a second product with a mix of positive and negative reviews might not generate as many sales.
87% of customers rely on online reviews when shopping from local brands. And whether these reviews are positive or negative shape their buying decisions.
Bigcommerce notes that 50 or more reviews per product can increase conversions by 4.5%. What they didn’t mention is that conversions will only increase if the review is good.
So, you have to work hard to earn authentic positive reviews to provide your customers with proof of your value and convince them that you are worth their money.
Here’s how a budget travel solution, Airy Indonesia user reviews
People often write reviews and testimonials together. But there’s a difference between the two.
While reviews are authentic, testimonials are more influenced by the business. Since you ask for the testimonials and display them yourself, you have complete control over them. You can choose to display only the positive testimonials and filter out the negative ones.
Testimonials belong to the peer-endorsed category of social proof. They enable the customers to perceive that if your brand has helped a certain person or business, it can help them too.
72% of customers claim that positive testimonials and reviews increase brand trust, which is why testimonials increase revenue by 62%. Hence, they have always been the go-to social proof when a brand needs to optimize its conversions. And it has always worked wonders.
Make sure to collect testimonials from your satisfied customers and use them where your prospects can see them. You can display your testimonials on your social channels or use them on your website landing pages.
Here’s how Jimdo uses customer testimonials on their Instagram page:
Comscore, a US-based media measurement and analytics company, experimented with customer testimonials on their homepage. As a result, their vertically-aligned testimonial (variation 1), with the brand logo prominent at the top, increased their conversion rate by 69%!
49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, and 40% have bought something an influencer recommended. But why is that? Social proof is at work again.
People are naturally inclined towards mimicking the behavior of celebrities they idolize and follow. Additionally, when they see their influencers promoting something, they start trusting the brand and purchase from them when the time comes.Therefore, celebrity endorsements are shown to increase a company’s sales by 4%. However, don’t sweat if you cannot afford to hire Gwenth Paltrow or Roger Federer for your next campaign. Micro-influencers are found to be more effective in driving sales. And they are significantly more affordable than the big names.
Here’s an infographic showing how micro-influencer can help you:
82% of consumers say they are more likely to buy something a micro-influencer recommends. So, if you want to build your next marketing campaign on social proof, but budget is a problem, consider hiring social media influencers. That’s what Gerber Lil’ Beanies did.
They hired 300+ Instagram influencers to promote their new nutritional baby food. These influencers created 9,400 social posts that generated 9.2 million impressions and resulted in a 5% uplift in the brand’s national sales.
Show your certificates
Certificates are one of the most concrete forms of social proof you can provide. Their efficacy lies in imparting credibility and reflecting authority, making your customers feel safe while working with you.
For example, you will be more comfortable buying an FDA-approved drug, right? That’s because you trust the authoritative figure to approve safe and valuable products for you to consume.
You can show your badges or certificates on your website and share them on your social media, so your credibility and worth resonate with a broader audience.
If you are looking for certificates in content marketing to leverage social proof for your blogging and writing business, here’s a list of all the certified courses that can help you get that seal of approval!
Display the people you have worked with
Displaying the name of the companies you have worked with enables you to borrow their credibility and leverage it to build your own reliability.
Kristi Hines, a freelance writer, has written for multiple well-known websites, and she leverages this fact perfectly on her website.Voices.com, a website providing freelance voice-over services, also leveraged the fact that they have served big companies and saw exceptional results.
They displayed the logos of all the businesses and big names they have helped on their homepage. As a result, their conversion rate increased by a whopping 400%!
If you have rendered your services to some of the well-known names in your niche, it is about time you brag about it. Tell the world of the big names you have worked with because doing so can shape the social perception of your brand. When people see that your products or services have helped big corporations, they will immediately think you are worth their time and money.
Use case studies
Have you noticed how we have used case studies multiple times in this blog? That’s because case studies support your claims with data-backed evidence.
They are similar to reviews, but they offer data-driven evidence, which makes them way more valuable than just testimonials. They assure your prospects that your product or service is capable of helping them out and supports this claim with quantifiable results you drove working with other people.
Case studies leverage human nature to be influenced by their peers. If they see their peers benefiting from your services, they will be inclined towards “trying you out.”
Neil Patel, the digital marketing guru and founder of Kissmetrics, managed to increase conversions for one of his clients by 185% using case studies.
To start working on your case studies, reach out to your customers and ask how your brand has helped them. You can create your questions or use an online case study template. Just be sure to use valid data and appear authentic.
However, never fake your case studies. That’s never a good idea.
Social proof holds an important place in modern marketing, courtesy of its immense revenue-driving potential. Building on herd mentality, it shapes positive brand perception and alters buyer’s behavior to drive them through the conversion funnel and convert.
Social proof manifests in many types, and you can use it in as many ways as you can. Provide your customers with product reviews and testimonials. Show them your worth by displaying social shares, subscribers, and people you have worked with. And build credibility by demonstrating your certificates and badges.
But remember, social proof stems from good customer experience and drives results only if you can consistently provide optimum experience to your prospects throughout their journey. So, be sure to focus on maintaining customer experience while leveraging social proof.