No matter how unique each one of us may be, we’re a social species, easily influenced and guided by our peers and respected public figures. Knowledge of social proof and other psychological concepts that drive decision making processes can help us better understand ourselves, our customers and become better marketers.
What is Social Proof?
The concept of social proof is that people look to others to help aid their decision making and influence their behaviors.
Psychologist Robert Cialdini developed the term “social proof”, and has worked extensively to understand this concept and its impact on behavior. His findings consistently demonstrate that people tend to like things that their peers like. This explains the excessive popularity of certain songs, brands, bands and movies. Social proof is even more powerful between people that identify with one another. Cialdini worked with Noah Goldstein to test the power of social proof using a message designed to encourage hotel guests to reuse their towels. While some guests were encouraged by the concept of helping the environment, more guests were encouraged when told that the majority of guests do make the decision to re-use their towels.
How does this relate to ecommerce, website design or digital marketing? If people are influenced by social proof, it’s important that brands demonstrate their popularity among respected groups, and the peers of their target demographic.
Why Is Social Proof Important?
Simply put, we tend to copy one-another, even when it comes to our purchasing decisions. If you have millions of followers, countless 5-star reviews and photos all over Instagram of customers loving your brand, you’re demonstrating the kind of social proof that will make your product soar.
Many studies have been conducted proving the extent to which social proof can impact behavior, and there are plenty of statistics demonstrating its importance for brand success.
According to Podium, 82% of consumers say they’ve decided to make a purchase based on the content of a review. It’s important to demonstrate social proof across a range of channels to build your brand and increase consumer trust, loyalty and conversion. This includes word of mouth recommendations, star-ratings and reviews, YouTube videos, and more user generated content.
How Can I Use Social Proof to Boost My Brand?
Below we discuss various types of social proof, and how you can facilitate them.
Customer Social Proof
Endorsement from your customers is one of the most powerful forms of social proof, and it’s something every brand can make the most of.
- According to Spiegel Research Center, customers are 270% more likely to purchase a product with five reviews, compared to a product with zero reviews. If you sell products, ask customers to leave reviews. Make leaving a review easy by sending customers automated review requests once products are received.
- If you sell services, consider making a testimonial page for your site to feature lengthier reviews written by your clients. Ask for reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and any other platforms that apply.
- Engage your customers using social media, and encourage them to interact with your brand.
- Showcase user generated content, including Instagram photos of real, happy customers, on your website, in your email campaigns and wherever you can.
- The strongest form of social proof comes from people we know and trust. Seeing that a friend has liked a Facebook post or page can encourage us to take an interest where we otherwise may not. When setting up Facebook ads, you can choose to target “friends of people who like your page”.
Endorsements from Industry Experts
If you sell toothpaste, this could mean partnering with a prestigious dentist to promote your brand. Perhaps your supplements are accredited by a key dietician, or the local rowing team train using your exercise equipment.
Gain maximum value through expert endorsements by:
- Asking your expert to feature in your social media posts, share your posts, or write posts about your brand on their own account. Use their image, and short, captivating quotes from them.
- Using your expert’s image and quotes in email and direct marketing campaigns.
- Featuring a mention of your expert affiliation on the homepage of your website. Consider including their answers on your FAQ page, or information on your affiliation elsewhere on the site.
Make the Most of Awards and Certifications
If you don’t have a specific industry expert working with you to promote your brand, you can still promote your industry expertise by sharing information about your certifications, awards and other industry recognition.
Perhaps you are accredited by a certain board; certifications from industry bodies are often seen as unquestionable proof of your ability and the quality of your product. This makes them valuable to include in About Us content or on Awards pages, there’s no harm in posting about them on social either.
You may have an excellent Better Business Bureau rating, or have won a local business award over multiple consecutive years. As mentioned above, the more your customers identify with those that gave you the recognition, the better, so even if competition is minimal, winning local awards makes you one to watch in the eyes of your community.
If you head to your local Portillo’s for a famous Chicago hotdog, you’ll see photos of all their celebrity guests, framed and hung with pride. Online customers can also browse their virtual wall of fame.
Whether you’re able to pay for a big-budget TV ad, have the good fortune of a celebrity stop by your store, or are able to request a simple retweet, comment or Instagram post from a star or local hero that you know loves your brand, their endorsement is something to shout about.
Statistical Social Proof
If tens of thousands of people follow you on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms relevant to your brand, these statistics can act as social proof. The best way to increase these numbers?
- Produce exceptional social content; publish beautiful images and engaging captions.
- Use popular hashtags to help new users find your brand as well as original hashtags unique to you.
- Turn your customers into fans by making them the stars of your social. As above, make the most of user generated content to the benefit of all parties.
- Respond to questions and comments on your social posts.
- Try paid ads to get in front of social media users with similar interests to your existing customers.
Social Proof Can Benefit Your Brand
No matter what industry you’re in, or what product or services you sell, there is power in social proof. Make the most of your customer feedback, star-ratings, certificates, endorsements and more. Find your customers on social media, and show your appreciation by sharing the content they tag you in.
Need a little help from your friends at Americaneagle.com? We can identify how you can use social proof to engage potential customers, and help build your brand. Contact us today to discuss this and other digital marketing, social media and web tactics to promote your brand.