The days of traditional marketing are behind us. Today, people are spending more and more time online, especially on social media channels. Because of this, we have to adjust our marketing techniques and one of the best ways to market to the social media crowd is through social proof.
What is Social Proof?
To put it plainly, social proof is the general idea that people will follow the actions of the masses under the basis that if so many people are doing something a certain way or making a certain purchase, then it must be the right thing to do or have.
If you think about kids in school, they follow trends. If all the girls are wearing their hair a certain way, then others will follow along because it appears to be the right way to do things. If all the kids are buying a certain toy, it must be the right toy to have. Similarly, consumers follow this same mindset in their purchases. When social proof is in action, it can be an incredibly effective marketing tool, especially taking into account how much of our lives are spent on social media.
This concept isn’t new, either. A classic test of social proof is shown in the Solomon Asch conformity experiment from 1951. As a psychologist, Asch wanted to test his theory that people would conform to the choices of the majority, even if that decision was clearly and definitively wrong. So, Asch gathered together male college students. He would show them two cards, one with a single line at a certain height and the other with multiple lines of different heights and they would be asked to identify which of the lines matched.
During the study, only one person was actually being observed. The others in the group were in on the experiment and would agree beforehand on which incorrect answer to give. From those tests, they found that 75% of the unknowing participants would actually go along with the group’s answer, even when it was categorically wrong.
This is social proof. The idea that what the group says is right is right, even if there are other options or if the “right” answer is actually wrong. When applied to marketing, this is a way to set a trend, appeal to new customers, and identify your next big product.
Types of Social Proof
There are six main types of social proof and they all have their own benefits.
- Expert Social Proof: As consumers, we tend to trust the opinions of experts and so, when marketing a product or service, using an expert opinion or recommendation can be hugely effective. It gives your product and company the strong reputation it needs to appeal to people.
- Celebrity Social Proof: By having a celebrity using your product or recommending it, you’re essentially having the “cool kids” tell everyone else what they should be doing. Just like this works for school-aged kids, it works in marketing.
- User Social Proof: Why do businesses put together case studies about the success customers have with their products? And why do they always want you to rate and review the product you buy? Because it tells others that the majority is having a great experience with the product and company. By using their users’ experiences specifically, a company can curate these experiences easily and share them with others.
- Wisdom Of The Crowd Social Proof: In the last few years, many of us have seen the emergence of a new syndrome: FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. Because people tend to not want to be the odd one out, whether it’s going to a party or engaging with a certain video game, this type of social proof is a great way to get new customers.
- Wisdom Of Friends Social Proof: We start trusting our friends more than anyone else early on in our childhood. We go to them for advice and look to them for how we should dress, do our hair, and what activities we should do. This doesn’t end in adulthood. We still hold our friends’ opinions in high regard, especially when considering making a purchase or signing up for a service.
- Certification Social Proof: Having the right credentials verifies you as an authority in the space. We trust these people. Much like expert approval gives credibility to a brand, so does having the right credentials.
Why Use Social Proof In Your Marketing
Here are some statistics that shed some light on why you should consider social proof in your next marketing campaign:
- 88% of consumers will trust a user review as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend or family member.
- Voices.com says that having the logos of business customers on a company website can increase the conversion rates by as much as 400%.
- By far the fastest-growing consumer-acquisition channel is influencer marketing.
- Before making a purchase, most consumers will look at at least 10 online reviews.
- If a business has at least a 4-star rating, 57% of consumers would likely make a purchase from them.
- About half of consumers will immediately visit a company’s website after reading a positive review about them.
Clearly, all these types of social proof have an impact on our spending habits. As consumers are continuing to be bombarded by marketing during their time online, using social proof can help you stand out by simply playing to the well-established psychology of customers. And as you do that, you will see more customers, more purchases, and more revenue from your campaigns.
Ideas For Integrating Social Proof Into Your Marketing
Once you understand social proof, you will obviously want to give it a try. Here are some ideas for each type of social proof that you can easily incorporate in your next marketing campaign.
1. Expert Social Proof Ideas
Luckily, the digital world has made it possible to connect more easily and quickly with experts. As consumers interact with these experts, they will gain valuable knowledge about your product while it also builds the credibility of your brand. Try having a couple of experts join together to take over your brand’s social media. They can have the chance to interact directly with customers and answer questions, while also adding some hype to your product.
You can also collaborate with a handful of experts for a social media event. More and more we are seeing events happening virtually, which is the perfect chance for you to bring together a panel of experts specifically for your customers. You can also have these experts recommend your products, essentially putting their stamp of approval on the products and your brand.
2. Celebrity Social Proof Ideas
With the age of influencers in full swing, it’s easier than ever to create collaborations with influencers and micro-influencers. Your first step is to identify what level of influencer you want to work with. Do you want to focus exclusively on those with millions of followers, or are you willing to use micro-influencers who may only have a few thousand followers? There are benefits to both, but keep in mind that you’ll be paying more as the influencer has more followers.
One way to use both major and minor influencers is with a brand ambassador program. With this, you can have people sign up and give them a percentage of the profits from sales that are directly from their influence. This allows them to better control how much they make and by adding a discount incentive to them, you’ll get more content and more traction for your products.
3. User Social Proof Ideas
By far, one of the best ways to use social proof is through your users. More than sharing user experiences with your other users, user social proof has a lot to do with your interactions with your customers. As you build that relationship, they will be more likely to purchase again and recommend you.
Start by appreciating when they mention your brand in their posts. Did a mom from Nevada just mention how much she loves your line of baby clothes? Reach out and thank her for that and see if you can also share her post on your page. That gives you the added bonus of shouting out your customer, another practice to get into the habit of.
Don’t be afraid to share your company’s milestones. Did you just make your 100,000th sale? Share it with your users! Did you just make a big donation after a promotion your customers were excited about? Celebrate it with them! As your customers feel this connection with you, the relationship builds and you’ll see more sales.
If you don’t already ask for them, be sure to encourage your customers to leave testimonials. We’ve seen that testimonials can be hugely influential for new customers and by posting those testimonials – similar to a shout-out – you can share that with your other customers, but also new prospective customers.
Above all, be responsive to your customers. You want to use this as an opportunity to create a connection and relationship with each and every customer. As you do that, they will trust you more, recommend you more, and keep coming back to make more purchases.
4. Wisdom Of The Crowd Social Proof Ideas
Do you have a large customer base that you’re proud of? Share that number in your bio! Along with that, you can share your social share count. Why share these numbers? They give proof to prospective customers that the group or crowd is saying you are a great place to purchase from. It plays into the desire to be part of the group. You can also pivot these into Facebook ads, which will be shown to friends of your brand’s friends on Facebook, showing new customers just how far your reach is.
You can also turn to Twitter to get your brand out there. Organize a Twitter chat and soon your brand could be trending on Twitter. As that happens, other Twitter users will start paying attention, mostly thanks to FOMO. They will start looking into what you’re about and you may find a whole new customer base.
5. Wisdom Of Friends Social Proof Ideas
Immediately after a customer receives their item from you, what should be your next step? Ideally, you would reach out and encourage them to rate and review their item! Ask them to share their experience on social media. All of this is great user-generated content that you can then reach out and ask to share on your profile. Anytime your brand or your products are shown some love on a customer’s profile, try to share that! It shows people that their friends love the products. You could even have a contest that involves customers sharing their experience with your brand and tagging you in the posts. You’ll get a flood of user-generated content and their friends on social media will get valuable insight as to why they should look into purchasing from you.
6. Certification Social Proof Ideas
This one is simple: get verified! On every social media channel – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok – you can easily get verified by following a few easy steps. This helps people know they are really interacting with your brand and protects them from falling for dupes. Plus, that verification shows that you are a reputable, credible company they should buy from.
Social proof is extremely important, especially as we market in a digital age. As you’re crafting your next marketing campaign, think of ways to incorporate different types of social proof and you’ll find your customer base growing, your revenue strengthening, and your brand expanding.
This guide will be here when you need it to help you through your initial understanding of social proof. Take it slow, and you’ll be an expert in no time. Happy Advertising! ☺
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