Social proof is a key aspect of marketing that can make or break your business.

But what is social proof?

According to Wikipedia, it is based on a psychological phenomenon “where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation.”

We are all influenced by the behaviors of others in our society. On the internet, for example, this can manifest itself as such:

You’re browsing a business’s website and view a customer testimonial from an industry influencer you highly respect, as well as reviews by other people who have a similar job title to yours. The fact that they vouch for the product or service you’re considering influences your purchasing decisions and will increase your likelihood of buying or signing up. That is positive social proof at work.

To harness the power of social proof, sign up for the Spectoos testimonial app today.

Companies across various industries leverage social proof in marketing to make consumers trust, buy, or even crave their products. With 85% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, your business had better be on the social proof bandwagon already.

But, while social proof is undoubtedly powerful, harnessing that energy can be a tricky tightrope to walk. Too much, and it sounds contrived. Not enough, and people are skeptical. You need to be able to strike the perfect balance. In order to master this art, you need to learn why certain types of social proof work in addition to how to implement them. Let’s focus on the top five types of social proof:

  1. Expert
  2. Celebrity
  3. Customer testimonials
  4. Power of crowds
  5. Power of peers

Each of these has a unique psychological pull that makes them extremely powerful in creating a positive reaction and association with your brand. Here’s a peek into five companies that offer great examples of social proof, reasons why they work so well, and lessons you can learn from them:

Testimonial Example #1: Kristi Hines – Expert Proof

Kristi Hines is a content writer with her finger on the pulse of social proof. This is obvious from the various techniques she uses on her homepage. Hines leverages customer testimonials beautifully, highlighting customer feedback directly on her site.

Even more impressive is the way she has utilized one of the industry’s experts, Neil Patel, to bolster her brand’s reputation. Known as “expert social proof,” companies will take a quote, review, or testimonial from an industry leader and use it to highlight the credibility of their brand. This works because people are even more willing to believe opinions when they’re given by experts in the field.

examples of social proof through influencer testimonials

In order to get expert social proof, you can reach out to industry experts in your niche and offer them a special promotion or trial of your product in exchange for a review. Many industry experts would be more than happy to weigh in on your brand, especially if your product or service has helped them in a positive way.

Testimonial Example #2: SodaStream – Celebrity Proof

Our society is totally starstruck, and that makes celebrities one of the best examples of social proof that companies can leverage. Just ask SodaStream, the world-renowned producer of beverage carbonation products that used Scarlett Johansson as their representative in 2014.

Since people associate the product with the person advertising it, a popular face speaks volumes as to the quality and desirability of the product. Consumers familiarize and associate themselves with the celebrity and, thus, experience a phenomena called the “extended self”.  

The extended self is characterized by people viewing their possessions as a reflection of themselves, so consumers are more likely to buy products that make them feel as if they are part of a group and that their position in society is improved by owning it.  If Scarlett Johansson has a SodaStream and they own a SodaStream, then they are similar to the celebrity in some way and subconsciously (and in some cases, consciously) feel better about themselves.

Now, it’s true that many companies may not have the budget for A-list celebrity endorsement (if yours does, great!); however, every industry still has its own influencers and thought leaders that have just as much pull as popular celebrities. In this case, you can use influencer marketing to get a type of celebrity social proof. Check out this in-depth blog post on influencer marketing to learn how to do it right.

Testimonial Example #3: Lori Alcalá – Customer Testimonials

Customer feedback is one of the most widely used social proofs because of the psychological impact it has on the potential buyer’s purchasing decisions. Customer testimonials lets others know the tried-and-true experience of using a product. People are inclined to relate to others who are similar to themselves, so by reading real customer testimonials, potential customers can imagine what their experience would be like using a product or service, too. Highlighting customer feedback is leveraging the power of others’ experiences to promote your brand and get more customers.

Lori Alcalá is a freelance B2B thought leadership writer and content strategist with the know-how needed to harness this type of social proof on her website.

Alcalá bolsters her reputation with real customer testimonials displayed directly on the site. Using the Spectoos Faceboard widget, Alcalá highlights her happy customers (complete with their pictures and links to their social media profiles), positioning their customer feedback in clear view for everyone to digest.

lori alcala testimonials

Integrating an intelligent customer testimonial widget onto your website is the easiest way to request, collect, consolidate and showcase customer testimonials. Some all-in-one testimonial solutions, such as Spectoos, also have a backend dashboard where you can view analytics to see which testimonials perform the best.

For the best all-in-one customer testimonial solution, sign up for Spectoos today.

Testimonial Example #4: Kickstarter – Power of Crowds

Kickstarter had a vision to bring funding to the creative geniuses of the world, and that’s what they’ve done. Using a social proof method called the Wisdom of Crowds, Kickstarter influences investors and creators to join the cause. Across their site, people see stats like “tens of thousands of projects,” “10 million people backed,” and “$2.2 billion pledged.” With numbers like that, a customer’s confidence in Kickstarter projects is unwavering.

Why does this work? As the saying goes, “Fifty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.” Those figures do a lot for consumers, psychologically. Big numbers impress people, and having 100K backers shows consumers there are loads of people who trust and believe in your product.

Additionally, the psychological phenomenon known as fear of missing out (FOMO) is more real than you would imagine. When people think they’re missing out on something desirable, they actually suffer emotionally from the social anxiety. The larger the crowd of people enjoying something, the greater the pain one experiences when they aren’t a part of that.

In the example below, over 20k backers have pledged over $900,000 dollars to support this project, and it’s just one of many like it that use power of the crowds to gain more backing.

rite press video

Implementing this type of social proof is fairly simple. Including a section on the product page that shows how many people have already purchased, shared, or reviewed your product/service will have the same effect on potential customers.

Testimonial Example #5: Snapchat – Power of Peers

Customer feedback from strangers is a strong motivator. But people trust their friends and connections even more, as they are even more similar to themselves and probably have comparable tastes. So, if a potential customer sees that your product was used and approved of by his Facebook friends, fellow tweeters, or anyone else from within his social circles, this is going to be a dynamite social proof to guide his purchasing decision.

Snapchat does this perfectly by showing users where their friends or peers are located, or if they are attending a certain attraction.

examples of social proof through snapchat snap maps

Image source: Snap Map

Organizations can tap into this form of “peer power” social proof by purchasing location-based geo-tags that draw attention to their events.

What can you learn from these examples of social proof?

These are just five examples of social proof to use on your website, but they are evidence of just how substantial social proof can be. You can find many more testimonial samples here. Harness the influential power of this marketing technique, and watch your conversion rates grow exponentially.

Want more information on how you can leverage social proof to increase conversions on your website?  Contact us at Spectoos, today!

social proof

Also published on Medium.