With many traditional marketing strategies losing their potency towards newer generations, businesses need to start thinking outside of the box. Though it’s been around as long as the internet itself, social proof is becoming one of the most powerful influencers over consumers that are debating between brands and deciding whether to make a purchase. In this article, we’re going to explore the different ways you can build and leverage social proof to work favorably for your business.
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Simply put, social proof is showing consumers evidence of your brand’s popularity or success. This is usually done in the form of displaying your subscriber count, followers, reviews, and social shares across your website or social media accounts. When you have enough social proof, it helps to ease the mind of consumers that are on the fence about your product or service by showing them that others have already made the leap.
People are natural procrastinators, and when it comes to purchasing a product or service, they need to be fully confident in their decision. For example, imagine you’re deciding between two restaurants that are right next to each other. The one on the left has only a handful of people inside, while the one on the right is packed with people waiting to be seated. Naturally, you’re going to figure that the one on the right has better food since it’s more popular.
Social proof helps give you an edge over the competition by playing on the herd mentality of people (wanting to go with what’s popular or trending). In fact, 88% of consumers read reviews to help them determine the quality of a local business, and 72% say a positive review makes them trust the business more (Source: Search Engine Land).
This type of social proof refers back to the restaurant example—power in numbers. The more likes, shares, positive reviews, and purchases you have, the more likely consumers are to listen to the wisdom of the crowd. When consumers see that a large number of people like your brand or have bought your product, it helps to build trust in their mind, reinforcing their decision to become a customer themselves.
Going hand in hand with the wisdom of the crowd, users and customers are a powerful source of social proof. This is usually in the form of reviews, testimonials, and success stories, all of which help to paint a picture. This picture reduces some of the risk for potential customers by allowing them to see the experiences of others that have already made the purchase. To speak to the power of this source, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (Source: Search Engine Land).
This source of social proof taps into the incredibly influential power of celebrities. One of the best examples of this type of social proof is Shaq and his commercial role in the well-known brand, Icy Hot. Celebrities have an enormous amount of social influence, allowing them to positively expose all of their followers and fans to any brand they endorse. Though it typically works best when the celebrity’s fan base can relate to the product or service, this is one of the strongest sources of social proof.
This type of social proof works by using a credible expert such as a popular blogger, leader in your industry, or any other prominent figure that has influence over the same audience you’re targeting. Not only is influencer marketing a great way to reach portions of your market that you may have been missing, but it also shows consumers that someone who really knows the industry trusts what you’re offering, and so can they.
When friends start talking to other friends about your product or service, magical things can happen. This source of social proof helps to immediately create strong connections with your brand simply because it plays on the power of trust amongst friends. When people trust the opinions of their friends, especially if it’s positive, they’re going to be more inclined to become a customer without taking the lengthy sales funnel journey.
First and foremost, you have to have an exemplary product or service that is truly targeted to resolve the problems of your target consumers. When you have a product that delivers on everything you promise, it’s naturally going to inspire positive reviews, social shares, and recommendations.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and feedback from your current customers. Tell them to share their experience with others. Not only will this make them feel more valued as a customer, but it will also help influence those that are on the fence.
Lastly, increase your social reach by offering free material or special discounts for liking and sharing your posts, website, and products or services. When you broaden your sphere of social influence with the help of your existing followers, social proof can go through the roof.
Once you’ve earned social proof, you’ll want to display it at key points along your sales funnel so they will have the greatest impact on interested consumers. One of the best ways to do this on your website is by showing subscriber counts, social connections, and authority badges (ex. “As seen in USA Today”). This is a great way to instantly build trust with consumers that are simply browsing around on your website.
Display your clients and influencer endorsements on your website and landing pages to help consumers feel more secure about making a purchase themselves. It’s also important to show your ratings and reviews prominently, helping to persuade customers going back and forth. When you have lots of good reviews, influencers, and endorsements, it’s easier to edge out competition and foster a positive mindset toward your brand with potential customers.
Use the power of social media to share important social proof milestones such as hitting 100,000 likes, getting featured in the New York Times, or even success stories of current customers. This is one of the fastest ways to expose your audience to social proof.
Displays of social proof don’t have to be limited to just your website and social media profiles. Simply getting listed in directories and review sites sets up yet another channel for people to leave and view positive feedback about your business.
Social proof is just one aspect of your business’s reputation. For more tips and strategies on turning your reputation into an asset for your business, download our free Reputation 101 eBook below: