If you’re in the market for a good hotel, will you go for a property that has numerous reviews or one that has none?
Or let’s say you just want to order in for dinner and you want to try something new–are you more likely to go for restaurants that have a social media presence?
What if you’re going to buy a product? Will you go for those that are recommended by experts and even backed by research?
When it comes to buying decisions and consumer behaviour, people hone in on cues that they may not be aware of. In the marketing world, we call this social proof.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein evidence from other people, such as experts and peers, verifies some element of your argument or makes your case more persuasive to your target audience.
A term coined in 1984 by psychologist and author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence, social proof is something that leads people to mimic the actions of others as a way to conform. After all, we are a social species.
This need to belong and be accepted is actually inherent to our nature, and it is something that we can capitalise on.
Social proof allows us to convert prospects to customers by showing them proof that other people trust and use our products or services, and so should they.
Done well, social proof can be a great marketing tool that you can use to nurture leads and boost sales.
This is because as a tool, you can use social proof to better connect with your audience or prospects, build their trust, and reassure them that they are making a sound buying decision. Plus, you feed their need to conform to what other people are doing.
Simply put, social proof is defined as content that builds trust by showing your brand as popular or credible.
One classic example is your company portfolio or case studies that should always be included in your pitch deck during a sales presentation.
In fact, creating one presentation for your brand, as part of a product launch or a sales pitch, may even require you to use several social proof techniques which we will tackle later on.
Meanwhile, it’s important to maximise social proof’s potential for your brand by harnessing social media, as we will discuss below.
How Can You Build Your Brand’s Social Proof?
As a marketer, you can use social proof to direct all outside influences towards your brand or company to get the results that you want.
You can convert visitors to customers by showing them that there are plenty of people who trust and therefore buy from you and that they should think the same way too.
In the digital marketing sphere, the people that make up your social proof can be found through your social networks, social media posts, website and product reviews, testimonials, shares, and comments, to name a few.
While social proof can happen organically, with consumers raving about your products or happy customers volunteering their testimonials, there are many other ways to maximise this marketing tool, create a positive image, and increase the benefits to your brand or company.
Let’s take a look at these social proof types to know which ones will work best for your marketing campaigns and goals...
Types of Social Proof
User Social Proof
User social proof may come in the form of customer reviews and testimonials.
Customer reviews are somewhat shorter and less specific than testimonials, which is more comprehensive. However, both discuss feedback, experiences, and recommendations of the customer regarding your product or service.
Customer reviews typically come with a rating scale, which may range from one up to ten stars. If your product or service has more positive reviews and higher ratings, it makes your offerings more valuable, and therefore, more attractive.
Meanwhile, testimonials are usually stories from customers who have been provided an extra mile or whose extraordinary, one-off concern has been resolved by the company.
While this may be highly personal and coming directly from your customers’ first-hand experiences, having several testimonials will have a powerful effect for your brand.
Expert Social Proof
When we’re in a dilemma or trying to solve a problem, we usually turn to experts for help.
Doctors, successful entrepreneurs, and specialists are highly trusted because of this. You can channel this trust for your brand through Expert Social Proof by way of affiliation.
Affiliations increase your credibility by associating your company with a reputable organisation.
Usually, you may ask to be part of an organisation or apply for certification. You may also ask an expert or even an influencer to review or endorse your product.
In turn, you can display the organisation’s logo on your website or social media page in order to make your brand more credible and trustworthy.
Wisdom of the Crowd
If many people agree and support a particular brand, this makes them more credible and attractive to potential customers. This can be easily displayed by having a large following of engaged fans or customers that you interact with on social media platforms.
Social proof runs on the approval of people. The more, the better.
Typically, people will gravitate towards brands that have a large social media following and are engaging with their customers on various platforms.
Wisdom of Friends
We trust what our friends say, so if you want to market your brand, product, or service, you want to establish yourself among people who know each other.
Whether it’s by word of mouth or harnessing social media’s various tools and techniques, you can reach your customers through their friends as well.
In this type of social proof, you use the opinion and behaviour of your customers’ friends, which is fairly easy to do on social media.
For example, Facebook already allows business pages to show users the events that their friends are interested in, their check-in, likes, as well as the pages they follow. This type of digital referral makes conversion quick and easy.
Earn Trust Using Social Proof Automation Tools
In this age of automation, you can easily show social proof… in real-time!
Here’s a review of some of the top social proof automation tools available today:
- Fomo: Fomo is a social proof tool named after one of today’s popular buzzwords, “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO). Cleverly named, since FOMO is also one of the most well-used marketing trick around. With the Fomo app, you get a feature-rich tool that features several templates that could help you get your social proof up and running quickly. This allows you to create customised notifications and page rules, as well as the best conversion settings for your brand and website. Fomo also has an intuitive tracking system to help you be on top of your conversion rates.
- Provely: With Provely promising that it can increase 250% increase in conversions, the proof might truly be in the pudding. Aside from seamless integration into a variety of platforms such as WordPress, Clickfunnels, Shopify, and Magento, it offers 3 powerful popups. First, it displays lead or sale notifications to visitors in real-time. It also Rotates sale notifications over a period of time. Lastly, it displays past data such as customers or leads, as well as sales to help persuade visitors and transform them into customers.
- Boast: Boast capitalises on the power of testimonials as an effective social proof tool. With Boast, you can display testimonials of different kinds on your website. Furthermore, it helps you collect testimonials and display them in various formats, such as videos and text.
- ProveSource:. ProveSource is an easy-to-set-up and easy-to-use tool that allows you to showcase verified conversions, purchases, and various activities on your site. You can easily customise what you want to show at any given period, even set your notification icons, text colour, and more. This tool automatically collects various visitor and conversion data, such as clicks, hovers, engagement rates, and impressions, among others. It also connects to Google Analytics for deeper insights.
- Crowdy.ai: One of the newest social proof tools around, this one packs 6 social proof types in one. It covers notifications, conversations, testimonials, visitors, reviews, and more. You can easily setup various actions and notifications for your conversions.
Now that you’ve learned about social proof and the tools that you can use, you can take your marketing campaigns to the next level.
This will help make the most out of your social media tools to create social proof that puts your brand in the spotlight and grow your business.