Home » Social proof » What is Social Proof and How to Use It
Last edited: January 11, 2022
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Marketers are always looking for ways to improve conversion rate, generate leads, and increase sales. It isn’t easy to persuade someone to buy your product or service. Buyers are getting smarter, and they have a lot of options to choose from. Marketers need to come up with innovative approaches to persuading ideal customers to buy their products.
Social proof is one of the leading techniques that is used widely in marketing. Testimonials and reviews from celebrities and influencers are used a lot as a marketing technique and this is what exactly social proof is all about.
This article covers everything on social proof and its types.
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Wikipedia defines social proof as a psychological phenomenon where people tend to copy and follow the actions and behaviors of other people under certain situations. This is done to adhere to the correct behavior.
According to Robert Cialdini, people assume a behavior to be correct when they see others performing it. When a person doesn’t know how to react to a certain situation, he will look at others and will do as others are doing it. For instance, if people are standing in a queue at an ATM, you will stand in the queue. Similarly, a celebrity drinking a specific soft drink, people tend to buy the same drink especially those who are celebrity fans.
Halo effect is another phenomenon that further explains why celebrities and experts are followed. It is used for rapid and biased decision-making that is influenced by a person. In the halo effect, a trait of a person is used to make a judgment. This is why your ideal customers follow experts because they assume that since experts are knowledgeable so whatever they are doing is correct.
One of the famous experiments to verify social proof was conducted back in 1951 by Solomon Asch. Asch was testing the conformity theory using a vision test. The conformity theory suggests that people conform to the choice of the majority even if it is wrong.
A total of 50 male students participated in the experiment. Participants were divided into groups and each group consisted of eight students. Only one student per group was tested and the other seven knew the answer to the question. Asch placed two different cards before the respondents and asked them to choose the line on the right card that matches in length to the line on the left card:
The correct answer was obvious in all the trials. The respondent being tested always when last and the other seven students always knew the answer which was mostly wrong. The results revealed that 75% of the unknown participants gave the wrong answer at least once – thus conforming to the group. When the seven students selected the right answer, the test participant gave the wrong answer less than 1% of the time.
Asch then asked the students being tested as to why selected the wrong answer and she found two major reasons:
Social proof is a powerful phenomenon that is used extensively by marketers to influence the buying decisions of their ideal customers.
Social proof isn’t just about celebrity endorsement rather it comes in several forms and types. The famous social proof types that you can use for your business include:
Customer testimonials are one of the most effective forms of social proof. Each review is a confidence vote that does an exceptional job of persuading potential buyers to go for your product.
Your customers leave reviews on your website, third-party sites, niche review sites, and directories. These reviews and ratings provide you with an opportunity to show potential customers how much ratings you have received.
Social media shares are great social proof that shows that your business and its posts are shared by a lot of people, so it appears to be trustworthy. Not just shares but the number of followers is also crucial. Businesses with a few followers are perceived to be low-quality and it gets tough to get new followers organically.
However, when you have a few thousand followers, new people follow you on a daily basis. It is due to social proof.
Getting your product or business featured, stamped, endorsed, or shared by an expert is another effective social proof technique. Experts have the potential to influence the buying decisions of their followers. So if an influencer shares a photo of him using your product, his followers will buy your product too.
Experts include anyone who has a following such as celebrities, influencers, CEOs, authors, bloggers, etc. These experts do a great job of influencing the buying decisions of hundreds of people.
Yes, it does work. Here are some social proof statistics that speak for themselves:
Yes, social proof works, and it works in all forms. Here is an example from Fitbit that showcases what experts are saying about them:
So you know what is social proof, it is now your job to start using it in your marketing strategy. There is no single best way to use social proof to boost conversions and sales. It could take any form and can be used on any channel.
You need to use multiple types of social proof including customer testimonials, reviews, celebrity endorsements, and others. The good news is that most of these social proof types are free to use. It doesn’t cost to get reviews on Google Maps, right?
Get started today and see how social proof helps your business grow.