How Social Proof Works in Marketing
Regardless of the size of your business—whether you’re a seasoned independent business owner with hundreds of customers, or you’re just getting to know the ropes of freelancing—keeping your business alive means it’s crucial that you stay up to speed on the different marketing tactics that work best to drive quality leads.
One of these tactics, which successful marketing experts across industries are employing, is social proof. Whatever you call it—testimonials, reviews, word of mouth—social proof is key to converting today’s potential customer into your next satisfied client. And if you’re not already on the social proof bandwagon, it’s time you jump aboard.
What is social proof?
Every time you read reviews for a product or service you’re considering, you’re looking at social proof. And, if I had to put money on it, I’d bet you check out reviews or testimonials before making a purchasing decision more often than not. Indeed, the majority of today’s consumers read reviews before making a purchase, and, according to Econsultancy, consumer reviews are 12 times more trusted than product descriptions!
Social proof is the concept that people will take on the same or similar actions of others under the assumption that those actions reflect the ‘right’ behavior. Social proof comes in a lot of forms. For example, it’s the reason some vendors highlight their ‘best sellers’, which will naturally make you gravitate toward those products. Social proof is even at play when you see a line of people waiting to get into a nightclub, restaurant, or amusement park ride. Seeing these people waiting to get in makes the venue seem more appealing. Nowadays, with the popularity of social media and user-generated content, incorporating social proof in your marketing strategy is easier than ever.
Why does social proof work?
Before we look at the different ways you can use social proof in your marketing, let’s check out why social proof works.
One of the principles of psychology that relate to social proof is called “implicit egotism,” and it has to do with how we naturally gravitate toward the choices made by people who resemble us. This principle is key to understanding why we’re satisfied when we read positive reviews left by people who share characteristics with us (such as the same job, or the same challenge or need).
Another psychological principle that explains why social proof works can be summed up by the phrase “I’ll have what they’re having.” Our innate sense of connectedness with others makes us want whatever someone else is enjoying that relates to a certain desire or need of our own. This is why highlighting ‘best sellers’, as we mentioned before, works so well.
How to incorporate social proof into your marketing strategy
So, now that you’re informed about the psychology behind social proof and you understand how it can help your business, what steps should you take to put social proof to work for you?
Check out these four effective ways to use social proof in your marketing.
1. Testimonials and ratings
Adding testimonials and ratings to your website and other web assets is perhaps one of the most straight-forward ways to incorporate social proof into your marketing strategy. As we’ve discussed, when your potential clients identify reviewers who are similar to them in some way, they’ll quickly relate to the testimonial they’re reading, which has a strong influence in their purchasing decisions.
Of course, one concern in today’s Internet age is whether the reviews and ratings you see are legit. Perhaps they were paid for, or created by robots. For this reason, testimonials that link to the reviewer’s real online social media profile are best, because they allow your site visitors to confirm that the review they’re reading isn’t fake.
The Spectoos testimonial platform is an effective widget for showcasing testimonials.
For starters, it allows you to present your testimonials alongside the real names and faces of the people who’ve written them. The widget also attaches links to the reviewer’s social media profiles, so anyone can easily verify that the review and the person are real. This all touches back to the concept we discussed of implicit egotism, and how positively we can relate when we can understand people’s motivations for writing testimonials. Giving your site visitors everything they need to know about a reviewer, the way Spectoos does, allows you to take advantage of the power of social proof.
With Spectoos, you can also add testimonials to your Facebook page, which is especially useful considering how likely your potential clients are to look you up there, too.
2. Media mentions and influencer-generated content
People tend to trust a product or service more when they see that someone they admire or look to for guidance has vouched for it.
Having your offering mentioned positively by an expert—whether through a quote, or a blog post, or even just a tweet—will do a lot to boost your conversions. Because they’re experts, their input is considered more valuable than the ‘normal’ reviewer.
Check out this example from CNET, a site that offers reviews, articles and more about technology and consumer electronics. In the image below, we can see how CNET’s expert, their editor, gave the 12-inch MacBook a 4-star rating, which speaks more loudly to us than the half star rating given by a non-expert reviewer.
Social plugins are another great way to incorporate social proof into your marketing strategy. They are tools that allow you to present information from your social networks—such as Facebook recommendations or how many likes your business has—in other areas of your web presence.
For example, if your business has a great following and lots of positive feedback on Facebook, you might consider making use of some of the social plugins Facebook offers.
Check out how Paula Pant of Afford Anything, a site about building financial independence, incorporates Facebook into her blog.
She offers site visitors the opportunity to Like her Facebook page directly from her blog (and they can see how many other people have already done so):
Paula also incorporates the social sharing options, and shows how many other readers have taken that action:
With so many likes and shares on a single blog post, site visitors can imagine that what Paula has to say is worth their attention.
Social media advertising
You can use what you know about your target audience on social media to create socially contextual ads that are relevant to them and use social proof. For example, you could do a Facebook ad that includes one testimonial like this:
Or you could do a Facebook ad that has a carousel of a few testimonials, like this:
These advertisements are all the more powerful because of how they incorporate social proof, which makes them more impactful and influential than ads written by you or your marketing team.
There you have it, folks! Four great ways you can incorporate social proof into your marketing strategy. Start leveraging social proof today by signing up to the Spectoos testimonial platform and see how the power of testimonials can take your business to the next level.