Social proof, in its various forms, has a huge effect on conversions (what we could all use more of).
For instance, did you know 84% of consumers ages 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
But a lot of marketers either overlook social proof altogether or don't use it well. We'll show you 12 uses of social proof done right. Borrow a few of these for your brand and see what happens with your conversion rates.
What is Social Proof Marketing?
If able, people will look to their peers for validation of their desires. Whether this is something they're aware of, or it's embedded in the subconscious, they'll align their behavior based on the actions of others.
Yes, there are outliers, people who don't bend to the opinions of others. But for a majority of the population, social proof is influential enough to base their decisions on.
Take consumer reviews. They're 12 times more trusted than a product's description. And 61% of customers check out reviews before they make a purchase online. Studies have even found more reviews drive more sales, even if there's a wider disparity in opinions.
Customers have changed the way they buy. To keep up, companies need to change their tactics and follow a customer-centric marketing approach, one that focuses on providing more value than you ever thought possible. Social proof is a simple way to work within this methodology because it allows your customers to vouch for the value you provide.
Types of Social Proof
Although there are numerous ways it can be implemented, social proof breaks down into five main categories:
- User Social Proof
- "Wisdom of the Crowd" Social Proof
- "Wisdom of Your Friends" Social Proof
- Expert Proof
- Celebrity Proof
All of these use subcategories within them, such as testimonials, ratings, reviews, case studies, and social sharing. While you do have options, it's important to find what fits best for your company. Use these examples to decide how you want to incorporate social proof into your marketing plan.
User Social Proof
User Social Proof usually comes in the form of reviews, ratings, and testimonials. It incorporates feedback from real customers to encourage the behavior you're after. In some cases, it doesn't even have to be positive feedback.
Remember the study we mentioned earlier about more reviews driving more sales? That means even if a product has a 10% lower approval rating, customers will purchase it because it has more reviews than its competitor. Weird, right?
Bizzabo - Testimonial
Bizzabo uses their testimonials with creative flair. Viewers can interact with the site while learning what people are saying about the company. The clickable links create more engagement on the page and causes people to read the testimonials more fully. If you have the capability for coding and design, this approach could work for you.
B-School (Marie Forleo) - Testimonial
Marie Forleo uses testimonials on her site, B-School, that stay in sync with her pages' style. They stand out and are concise, but give the viewer the opportunity to read more about each. Use of the pictures works to humanize the testimonials further, and along with the smiles, these graphics entice the viewer into trusting their opinions.
While many sites use head-shots of the person offering a testimonial, the vivid colors are an excellent option to catch the eye of your customers.
Yelp - Ratings/Reviews
Yelp is a great example of how to use ratings and reviews to your advantage. Their website and app highlight the star-rating, as well as the number of reviews that got it there. Users can scroll past anything that doesn't appeal to them and select one for more info.
Rotten Tomatoes - Ratings/Reviews
Rotten Tomatoes uses the rating system in a more humorous way. By deciding whether films should have tomatoes thrown at them (not really), people are encouraged to provide ratings.
This is a great concept for companies who want more creativity with their review platform.
"Wisdom of the Crowds" Social Proof
"Wisdom of the Crowds" lends into the old schoolyard motivation technique of, "everyone's doing it."
This creates a Fear-of-Missing-Out (FOMO). People naturally want to be included in groups, and making purchases is no different to this primal characteristic.
Hubspot - Social Accounts
Hubspot highlights the largest social networks and shows off the follower count. While this is more effective for companies that have traction on social, it can be used on a smaller scale for individual blog posts, or within your email campaigns.
Zendesk - Customers Served
Zendesk does something similar to Hubspot, highlighting the total number of companies they work with. They also include a list of some of those companies. Since their platform isn't specific to a niche, the list allows potential customers to find a competitor or business they're familiar with that could help drive their decision.
"Wisdom of Your Friends" Social Proof
Seeing thousands of people approving a product is great, but seeing your friends make a purchase is even better.
We trust people we know more than those we don't. This means a friend's shopping cart will appeal more to our need for approval than random reviews.
Facebook - Others 'Like' This
Social media platforms are exceptional providing social proof in advertising. Facebook will often include a blurb with articles that populate on feeds, displaying the names and number of friends who also like that article or company. It's a subtle, but effective way to encourage engagement.
Expert Proof uses the approval of thought leaders and influencers to promote a behavior. This can be doctors recommending a treatment, or a company showing lab-tested results on their product. Whether displayed through quotes, blogs, photos, or social posts, people want to see experts approving of products they're interested in.
Lean Labs - Case Studies
Case studies are another form of social proof that is extremely effective due to the logic behind the work. Here, you can see one of our own case studies for Atlantech. Not only did the owner offer a great testimonial, but the case study provides numbers to back up the claims. This can be one of the most powerful tools on your belt if you put time and effort into your case studies.
Sprinklr - Use of Premier Publications
Using other respected businesses and publications can build credibility, especially for readers who may not have heard of your company before. Sprinklr made the Forbes' Cloud 100 list, and while you may not have heard of the social marketing platform, nearly everyone has heard of Forbes. If you're featured or can work out an interview with any major publications, have no shame in showing it off.
Celebrity Proof is one of the most powerful techniques if used correctly. It relies on product promotion from popular people within a given space, and not necessarily the specific industry of the product. These are most common in social media posts, photos, or impromptu testimonials during interviews.
iGrill - Non-Sponsored
iGrill was fortunate enough to have a non-sponsored post send people towards their product. When Mark Zuckerberg claimed he used it and was able to incorporate his own app into it, iGrill got a small bump in sales. Sending samples of your products to celebrities isn't a bad way to gain some traction with social proof.
Starbucks - Candid
Starbucks is well-known for treating people with caffeinated beverages. Do one search online and you'll find many photos like this one of Nick Jonas. This candid shot from the paparazzi shows him enjoying a drink from the coffee giant, presenting proof to his fans that Starbucks' products are worth purchasing.
How You Can Collect Social Proof
Social proof is a powerful tool that every marketer should understand and add to their kit bag. It lets the value you bring customers speak through them, promoting your brand, and expanding your influence.
Here are some quick tips for collecting your own proof:
- Send emails asking for reviews after someone buys your product. Give them enough time to have used the product, and then fire away with an authentic, personable request for their opinion.
- Similar to emailing for a review, customers are more apt to fire a text back if you initiate. Companies like EZ Texting make it simple to include text-based marketing in your business. Nearly everyone has a phone. Take advantage of it.
- Make your review process as simple as possible. Don't create any barriers that could deter a customer from leaving a review.
- Enable an option to ask, "Was this review helpful?" It's called Proof on Proof and Amazon uses it to earn nearly $3 billion in annual revenue.
The good news is that if you can collect even one testimonial, it can serve you in numerous ways. Our free Content Repurposing Toolkit will show you how to get the most from your content, increasing reach, engagement, and branding, with a few simple tricks.