How to Use Social Proof
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10 Ways to Use Social Proof to Win Over New Customers

This post is also available in: العربية (Arabic)

Any smart marketer knows that the best way to convince someone a product is worth buying is to show them plenty of people are already in line to buy it.

That’s why social proof is one of the most powerful marketing tactics in the book.

Social proof is a phenomenon that causes us to view behavior as correct based on the extent to which other people are doing it.

There are six main types of social proof: 

  • Expert: Expert social proof associates an industry expert with your brand. They could be recommending your products or services or coming on board for Q&As and live chats.
  • Celebrity: Celebrity social proof happens when a celebrity endorses your products. Justin Bieber, Ian Somerhalder and Kim Kardashian have all sponsored products.
  • User: User proof occurs when current users share their experiences with your brand and recommend your products.
  • The wisdom of the crowd: This type of social proof stems seeing an extensive amount of people standing behind your brand, such as when you having millions of social media followers.
  • The wisdom of your friends: When your friends approve a product, its overall value increases. This can happen from seeing your friends directly use your brand or from following you on social media.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves in situations where we’re unsure how to act. So we turn to the people around us, be them family, friends, or famous strangers, who we simply assume understand or know more about something than us. Once you’ve built a website for your business, try these social proof methods to broaden your customer base.

Why does social proof work?

The science behind social proof is based on human being’s evolutionary desire to view what the crowd is doing as what’s optimal. In psychology, this is called the herd instinct, and it’s based on the idea that if someone started to run from a perceived threat, you probably should too, lest a wild animal be the source of the danger. This phenomenon could be attributed to why, in modern times, people feel that behaving the same way as a large group of people is the correct way to behave.

One example of this was shown by an environmental study conducted by the Washington Post. In the study, researchers wanted to see what the best method of convincing people to turn off their fans and turn on their air conditioners in the summer would be. They gave customers four different results and tested to see which one would be most effective in persuading people to use less energy.

People were either informed that they would be saving $54 a month, curtailing 262 pounds of greenhouse gasses from being released into the environment, that saving energy was the socially responsible route, or that 77 % of their neighbors were already saving energy.

Of all the possible results, it was the last one – the one based on social proof – that inspired the most action. All the examples given invoked a positive connotation, but social proof proved the most persuasive.

How to use social proof

1. Enlist a brand ambassador

A brand ambassador differs from a paid sponsor because they’re not being paid to post about your brand. They love it so much they just choose to do it for free (or a few freebies and branded items).

Brand ambassadors have been employed by many businesses because of how effective they are. They come across as a “real” person that can appeal to anyone.

This person embodies your overall brand identity in everything from their appearance to their values. When they talk about your brand, it comes off as more credible because people know they’re not being paid to do it.

Look for your most excited customers and talk to them. You might be surprised at how many people would be interested. You may have to work with them directly and help them out with what to say, but the entire process will be extremely rewarding.

2. Use experts on your social media platforms

Inviting experts to take over the reins of your social media profile has proven to be extremely successful.

An expert in any field – be it sports, skincare or surfing – can carry massive weight with that group of followers. The sense of authority and trust that they’ve already established makes their support for you brand hold merit. We trust them because we believe they are more knowledgeable than us in that specific field.

It’s the halo effect at hand. If the person has earned admiration in a specific field, then you will, by extension, end up basking in that same positivity. It’s a psychological bias where we judge someone’s views on something based on our overall impression of them. That means if someone with clout approves your brand, your brand will gain other people’s approval, too.

It also shows you were established enough and equipped with the resources to bring them on board.

Say you’re a protein shake company and have a prominent nutritionist take over your Instagram stories for the morning to give some important facts. People will tune into listen to try to gain benefits from her expertise.

It’s why seeing recommendations from experts can change buying behavior or influence different perspectives.

You can consider hosting social media events such as Facebook live chats or Twitter Q&As with experts.

3. Use influencer marketing to widen your reach

Influencer Marketing is one of the newest and most successful forms of marketing. The core reason underlying its popularity also goes back to the halo effect.

Influencer endorsements are everywhere. Not just on social media, but on the back, front and first pages of almost every book in the market, with best-selling authors giving their stamp of approval to fresh faces.

An influencer doesn’t necessarily have to sport a blue checkmark next to their name or have hundreds of thousands of followers. While some can be public figures, more often than not they’re micro influencers who have gained a decent amount of niche followers. Most influencers have less than 10,000 followers.

The main benefit of sponsoring an influencer is that you can draw awareness from their followers.  An influencer can showcase your product in any way – either by featuring themselves using it, or writing a a review discussing its effectiveness.

Plus, it’s cheap. At least, definitely much cheaper than getting a celebrity social proof.

You’ll mostly find examples of influencer marketing sprawled out over Instagram, with brands sponsoring influencers who specialize in a niche area. These posts usually feature a special discount code for each influencer’s followers to use.

4. Spotlight your media mentions

One type of social proof that can spotlight your success is to show gratitude for your media mentions.

It’s important to execute this properly so that it looks like an accomplishment, not a boast.

Using words such as honored and thankful when citing the posts are a good way to show your gratitude.

Tesla Media Mention

You can also share your gratitude for customer shout-outs, which both shows how much people love your products and lets you directly thank the people who do.

Slack went so far as to create a Twitter account just for their mentions, with @SlackLoveTweets retweeting all the love the platform receives from its users.

Media mentions can be displayed in the “as seen in” tag usually at the bottom of a website. Many emerging companies and entertainers do this.

Cheaterbuster shows its mentions at the top of its website.

Cheaterbuster

5. Display your clients on your website

Showcasing your clients is one way to demonstrate that you have exciting, relevant clients who trust you with their work.

You can use lists, sliders or grids here. It also helps if you have a testimonial on how great your service is from one of the company’s leaders.

Using this strategy makes other clients more inclined to trust you with their work.

Clients Castle Group

6. Use badges on your website

Displaying a badge on your profile is another simple,  beneficial way to increase your brand’s standing.

Badges are the small icons that make up validations, awards and accreditations.

Businesses of all sizes use this approach.

They’re important because they establish credibility and entice new users.

7. Embrace testimonials

Testimonials raise your credibility because they’re letting someone else speak for you.

Putting them on your website sets up a strong first impression for incoming visitors while simultaneously humanizing your brand.

Testimonials draw their strength from their objective nature. Like brand ambassadors, these clients simply want to share their experiences with others, no payment involved.

Try to pair your testimonials with pictures and bold quotes to increase trust. Think of creative ways to feature them throughout your website.

You can splatter testimonials throughout your website so that they can be seen more often, or you can put them on one page.

Code Academy has an entire section of their site called stories. This page is dedicated to featuring detailed video Q&As on how Code Academy changed people’s lives.

Code Academy

8. Implement social proof in your Facebook ads

One way to use social proof on social media is to include it in your ads.

If you’re advertising on Facebook, your ad will show up with how many people like your page, referencing a few of a person’s friends in it.

To do this, go to the target audience section of the Facebook Ads Manager. Go to “Connections,” and click on “Add a connection type,” then select “Facebook Pages,” and then “Friends of people who like your page.”

Doing this encourages people to also like your page, which giving you multiple opportunities for conversion.

Facebook Ad Example

9. Publicize your customer base

If your client base is strong, don’t be afraid to show that in many aspects of your website.

You can put this information in your bio or any form of relevant ad copy.

Talk about how many customers you have, the number of products sold during a certain time frame, or the number of countries your customers are based in.

This is especially effective for a landing page or pop-up form where you’re asking for someone’s information.

10. Motivate customers to leave good ratings and reviews

Can you remember the last time you made an online purchase without scanning the reviews beforehand?

If a product has five stars, we’re more likely to add it to our carts over an item with two. Let alone an unrated item.

This is why it’s essential to encourage happy customers to fill your feeds with love.

There are countless of places this can happen in. Think Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, or even an Instagram follow.

To ask your customers for reviews, you can simply pose the question in person. Sometimes it helps to offer an incentive, such as a discount for checking in on Facebook. You can also add a survey option. Try to target repeat customers who you know are strong fans of your services.

Takeaway:

  • Getting social proof for your product can help you immensely
  • The six types of social proof include celebrity, expert, user, the wisdom of the crowd and the wisdom of your friends
  • Evolution programmed social proof into us
  • You can find a brand ambassador to post positive reviews about your products
  • Many companies find success from sponsoring a popular influencer in your niche
  • Inviting an expert to take over your social media accounts can boost engagement
  • For your website, consider spotlighting your media mentions, customer badges and popular clients
  • Using testimonials and encouraging your clients to leave positive reviews strengthens your credibility

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