Social Proof: Why is it Important, and How Can You Use it?

social media

By Jimmy Rodriguez

Promotion is critical to the success of your business. If you don’t promote your products or services, your target buyers have no way of knowing they exist in the first place. 

The problem with promoting your products and services yourself is that consumers already know you want them to make a purchase. So, when you tell them how great your offers are, consumers assume you’re just saying those things to get them to get out their credit cards. 

The most effective way to promote products and services is to get someone else to do the talking for you. This article discusses social proof and how you can use it to generate those sales and grow your brand.

What is social proof?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should no longer promote your products and services yourself. I’m saying that kind of promotion works best with social proof.

What exactly is social proof? 

Social proof is a phenomenon that sees individuals following the actions of the majority. Since many people behave in a particular manner, others assume it is the correct way to behave.

Social proof can explain why people prefer to go to a restaurant with more customers than to one that doesn’t have any. When you see a lot of people inside a restaurant, you assume that the restaurant serves good food. As a result, you line up for hours just to get in and taste the food yourself.

Used the right way, social proof can be a very important and powerful tool for marketers and businesses. 

Why is social proof important for you? 

As a business owner or a marketer, social proof can help you persuade people to purchase your products and services. When consumers see other people endorse your products and services, after all, they don’t see business owners or marketers who they believe have a hidden agenda. They see people who genuinely believe in your product or service. 

Just look at the statistics.

For 72% of respondents, positive testimonials and reviews from third parties increase their trust in a business. Now throw in the fact that the average consumer reads ten online reviews before making a purchase, and what do you conclude?

Social proof can do wonders for your brand.

Social proof is a powerful way to convert consumers seeking to make an online purchase. When people go personally to a store, they can directly compare products and list down each product’s pros and cons. Online, people can’t do that. They have to rely on outside reviews to form their own opinions about a product or service and ultimately decide.

How can you use social proof to grow your brand?

There are many ways you can leverage social proof to build your brand. Let’s look at some of those ways in this section. Consider these in your next marketing campaign or next SEO campaign management, and you’ll see excellent results! 

Use it on your sales pages.

Sales pages aim to convince your target customers to purchase your product or service. It is typically the last page a person sees before they click on that buy button on any ecommerce site

Social proof can give consumers that final nudge that gets them to make the purchase. There are statistics to back up the effectiveness of social proof on sales pages. Testimonials on sales pages, in particular, have been shown to increase conversions by up to 34%!

Stio, which sells apparel for outdoors, for instance, uses different types of social proof on its sales pages:

stio

There’s a starred review right below the name of the product.

At the bottom of the sales page, Stio shows each of these reviews: 

stio review

If you’re using this second option, make sure your products or services are high-quality. Most shoppers, after all, want to see at least a three-star rating before they consider purchasing a brand. Besides, negative reviews will only do more harm to your brand than good. 

1. Re-promote user-generated content

You can leverage social proof in other marketing channels aside from your website, too. Social media, for instance, is a great platform for leveraging just that. There are 3.78 billion social media users. Even if you reach a small percentage of those users, you still reach many potential customers.

What, however, is user-generated content?

User-generated content or UGC is any type of content on the brand made by customers of that particular brand. The most common examples are social media pictures that people post just because they interact with their favorite company. The content your customers post during your UGC campaign is also considered UGC content.  

Since UGC is generated by customers who don’t get anything in return, it is perceived as 100% authentic and gets consumers to take your desired action. You’re letting your customers do the work for you. They’re not just the ones who promote your brand. They’re the ones who generate those creative ideas for the promotion.

starbucks

Besides, when you involve your customers, you can expect to reap additional benefits. Customers who are fully engaged, after all, represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer. 

2. Share influencer endorsements through social media

There’s another type of social proof you can leverage on social media: influencer marketing.

Influencers can sway opinions because they have two things: a massive following and authority in their niche. 

There are many ways you can get influencer endorsements.

You can, for example, just wait for the endorsements to come in. You might wait for a long time, though. You never know when an influencer will test your product. Even if they do try out your product, there’s also that possibility they won’t even make an endorsement of it in the first place. 

Another option is to collaborate with the influencer formally. You can do this in two ways: Ask them to test your product or make it an official transaction.

If you opt for the first, you need to make sure your product is of excellent quality. If the quality is good, you have nothing to worry about. If it’s terrible, then your strategy might just backfire, and you end up with a bad review. Unfortunately, you can’t delete bad reviews made by other people. That means you’d end up with thousands, even millions, of people reading just how lousy your product is.

The second option is standard for more prominent brands that can invest in such collaborations. 

H&M twitter

Check out this example from H&M, which retweeted a picture posted by fashion influencer Riley Hubatka wearing H&M clothes. These types of engagements can give your company viral brand moments.

3. Celebrate awards and milestones

Awards and milestones are a form of social proof, too.

Awards help establish your credibility because, again, someone else is vouching for your product or service. 

Milestones, on the other hand, are a reflection of your brand’s success. 

You can celebrate your awards and milestones in several ways. 

Nike, for instance, celebrated its one million followers and six million pictures with the hashtag Nike on Instagram by reposting ten of those pictures on its Instagram account. Each picture came with an inspirational caption and tagged the fan who posted that picture. That celebration lasted for 24 hours:

NIKE

Bigelow tea, for its part, celebrates being a Certified B Corporation every day. It highlights this not just on its social media accounts but on its website, too:

BIGELOW

So, when a consumer goes to the site and sees the “Certified B Corporation” seal there, they know the company is not all about profit. It also has a social and environmental purpose.

You can also mention the publications or studies that gave recognition to your brand. You can include that not just on your website or on your social media platforms. You can make that a prominent feature in your email sequences, too, before you send them out with your email marketing services.

The point is, it’s not a good idea to hide your accomplishments and milestones. Share them with your audience because those might just be the nudge they need to make that purchase. 

In Closing

Brands need to promote their products and services so they can reach potential customers and grow. Although they can promote themselves, the most effective way is to complement that with strategies involving third parties making the endorsement themselves. The idea is to leverage social proof. People, after all, will follow the actions of the majority. That’s a proven psychological principle.

There are many ways you can leverage social proof to get people to purchase your products or services. In this article, I shared four ways. Use it on your sales pages, re-promote user-generated content, and share influencer endorsements over social media. Celebrate awards and milestones, too.

Choose some if not all of those ways to promote your products and services, and run your traditional marketing campaigns. 

You won’t just reach your marketing goals. You’ll achieve–even exceed–your business goals, too.

About the Author

AuthorJimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade e-commerce solution. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.

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