Social proof has been around for almost four decades. But the foundations that made it effective still apply in today’s digital landscape.
Psychologist Dr. Robert B. Cialdini coined the term “social proof” in his book: “The Psychology of Persuasion”. According to Cialdini, there are six overarching principles to look into:
- Reciprocity – Provide value to gain value.
- Commitment – People are likely to trust things aligned with their values.
- Social Proof – People are likely to trust the majority.
- Authority – It’s human nature to obey someone in authority.
- Liking – The more a person likes you, the higher the chance of persuasion.
- Scarcity – People want more of something if it’s short in supply.
In this article, we’ll focus on social proof and how to apply it in your next social media campaigns. Here’s a recap of the basics.
What Is Social Proof?
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon. It states that we view something as “more correct” when we see others doing it.
Marketers use social proof to improve their overall online presence, conversion rates, and authority. We see this all the time when we visit a website, research products, and more.
According to a study, customers trust product reviews more than product descriptions. The best part is, social proof doesn’t stop at reviews. Here’s a list of the main types of social proof:
Main Types Of Social Proof
There are several types of social proof you can use. Finding the right kind to use for your brand can take a lot of time. To help streamline this process, we’ve curated a list of social proofs any brand could use.
Expert Social Proof
Industry experts are viewed as the authority in their respective niches. The products and services they recommend hold more weight because of this. Research shows that 69% of customers read reviews from experts before purchasing products.
Celebrity Social Proof
When celebrities or influencers endorse products, that’s an example of celebrity social proof. Ad Week says 90% of customers trust influencers more than celebrities. 49% of customers also depend on influencers when making purchasing decisions.
Brands can use content from customers that feature their products or services. It’s one of the most effective forms of social proof. Studies show an 8.5% increase in conversion rates among site visitors that were shown some form of UGC.
When a lot of people are using your products, others are likely to join the “bandwagon”. For example, showcasing “X number of marketers” used your product. In a study, a company that applied a form of bandwagon in their marketing saw a 38% increase in conversion rates.
Scarcity Social Proof
Scarcity encourages customers to buy before a deal expires. This sometimes includes setting timers on discounts and promotions, restricting supply, or designing seasonal or promotional products to sell for a limited period.
How to Use Social Proof
Social proof can be used in every online channel of your brand. We see it on social media, websites, and even third-party review platforms. Let’s explore examples of how brands use social proof to their advantage.
Showcase Customer Reviews
Customers can still have a lot of doubts about a product or service even after their research phase. A simple nudge from reviews can be the deciding factor. In fact, studies suggest that showcasing reviews increases sales by 18%.
You can feature reviews from customers on your social media page, website, and third-party sites that feature your products. Research also suggests that 49% of customers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Implement Real-time Statistics
Showing real-time statistics works in two ways. It uses FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and bandwagon marketing.
You can show any metric that you want for this strategy. Popular metrics used are purchases, signups, social media follows, and more.
For eCommerce brands, you can highlight your most popular products and the number of units sold. A strategy like this is best used on landing pages, checkouts, and in your store.
Highlight Case Studies
Case studies show how a product or service solved an issue in real life, making them powerful social proof. They also provide expert, user, and authority social proof.
Think of a case study as a curated “client review”. Highlight how a customer used your product, its benefits, and how it answered a specific pain point.
You can even create a dedicated landing page for your case studies, each addressing a different problem.
Highlighting your customer base works as bandwagon marketing. It shows prospects that your products or services helped a lot of successful businesses, so they should try it out too.
Testimonials can also be featured here. In one study, a brand that added testimonials on its landing page saw an increase of 34% in conversion rates.
Social share widgets allow visitors to easily share your website or specific pages on their social media profiles. This can help to increase the visibility and reach of your website.
An increase in visibility could equate to more traffic, and ultimately, more potential conversions. But it can also work against you if your brand has a low following on social media.
So, be sure to do A/B testing to see if adding social shares will work for your brand.
If you’re in a restaurant and you don’t know what to eat, you ask for the best seller. This concept can also apply to online purchases.
There will always be times when customers don’t necessarily know what they want. You can help them out by highlighting your best products.
Feature User-generated Content
Customers can make great content around your product. When this happens, you can feature them on your brand’s social channels.
According to a study, UGC is 5x more likely to convert than professional product shots. But because it’s not professionally made, you might want to clean up the pictures.
For example, you can use AI-powered tools like PixelCut to clean up your pictures for free. Using this tool, you can remove unwanted people, background objects, or texts, ensuring that your UGC fits your brand image.
Social proof is a powerful tool that any brand can use. There is a variety to choose from. The challenge is knowing which social proof to focus on.
To help, here’s a list of things to consider before spending time and resources on social proof:
- The main types of social proof include expert, celebrity, UGC, bandwagon, and scarcity social proof.
- One of the most effective social proofs includes reviews and UGC.
- Consumers are more likely to follow the recommendations of influencers over celebrities.
- User-generated content can become a cost-effective and sustainable marketing strategy.
- Always do A/B testing to know which social proofs are most effective for your brand.