Social proof is when someone else validates your opinion. It’s the “group” mentality that tells you, if other people are doing it, I might want to do it. Social proof marketing is when brands leverage social influence to persuade potential customers that their product or service is the best one to purchase. It’s a behavioral phenomenon that’s been alive since the dawn of society. It’s not new, but with the rise of social media use and the declining trust of traditional advertisements, it’s definitely the next big thing.
What Is Social Proof?
Humans are pack animals. Others in our surroundings influence the way that we make decisions. When one particular ice cream flavor sells out faster than the rest, we assume it’s good. After all, everyone else likes it!
Customers are now more informed and knowledgeable than ever. They can instantly “Google” products on their smartphones for a product review or scroll through Instagram to see what others are wearing and where they are shopping. Different channels (Snapchat, Facebook, Tripadvisor etc.) and different types of social proof (videos, photos, text reviews, etc.) are continuously appearing.
This is due, in part, to the growth of social e-commerce via social media platforms. However, social proof exists mostly because humans are social creatures who take cues from those around them when making decisions.
5 Different Types of Social Proof
Here are five examples of social proof that help to convince the everyday consumer when making purchasing decisions:
- Celebrity endorsement:
Celebrities get all the press. When a celebrity wears a shirt, drinks a soda or visits a location, it’s all the social proof many consumers need in order to do the exact same thing.
When “everyone” is doing something (except you) it sparks the “fear of missing out.” Just looking at sales numbers can push a consumer over the edge and prompt them to make the purchase.
- Expert endorsement:
When topical experts state that this is the product for them, everyone who wants to get expert advice or who wants to enjoy the same lifestyle, will jump on board.
- The success story:
There’s nothing like hearing a real testimonial from an everyday consumer just like you. If it works for them, why shouldn’t it work for you?
- Third-party certification:
When a third-party source (such as another company) verifies the validity of the service provider, it creates a sense of consumer confidence.
How It’s Used Today
Social proof marketing is heavily integrated into many of today’s marketing messages. Here are six clear examples:
- The 5-star review:
Businesses everywhere compete for five-star reviews – it can make or break their digital image. Star rating is the top factor used by consumers to judge a business.
- The online review:
88 percent of consumers read online reviews. Customer opinions and testimonials matter because the consumer will trust or distrust based on the information they discern. 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from individuals versus marketing messages directly from brands.
- Influencer marketing:
Using influencers is a common practice, especially on a social selling platform. It’s a smart way to leverage social proof. 51 percent of marketers who use influencers say they won better customers through influencer marketing.
- Badges and logos:
When brands put badges and logos on their website, such as an “Angie’s List” or “Better Business Bureau” endorsement, it chases away doubt. If reputable organizations vouch for the brand, it’s probably reliable.
- Social like and share buttons:
It’s common to put buttons that show how often a brand’s webpage was “liked” or “shared.” This shows the consumer how popular the message is with other individual social media users.
- User-generated content:
Brands can use a social content aggregator to find pictures from everyday social media users showcasing their products in action. It shows others how the product fits into a lifestyle and reinforces the image of a product’s popularity. And using a social commerce platform to boost total e-commerce sales is smart – it’s taking a growing share of the digital sales market year after year.
Are you Using Using Social Proof Marketing?
Social proof marketing is powerful for influencing consumer purchasing decisions. A study published in the Washington Post showed that when exposed to four different signs urging them to use fans instead of air conditioning in the summer, consumers were most affected by the sign that told them “all of your neighbors are doing it.” Even the promise of saving money on their electric bill wasn’t enough – but learning they were the “odd man out” worked.
Getting Started with Social Proof Marketing
The best way to get started is to utilize a social media content aggregator like Pixlee. By collecting, curating and publishing user-generated content that represents your brand’s identity, you show prospective customers your happy buyers and subconsciously make them ask themselves, “If they like, why wouldn’t I like it?”
Tell a story about your brand using your satisfied customers’ own thoughts in the form of user-generated content – Pixlee’s social CRM platform helps you find your micro-influencers who can act as your social proof microphone to the world.