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What is Social Proof and How to Use It

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 pickier because 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, its types and importance for all companies.

What is Social Proof?

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:

what is social proof

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:

  1. They selected the wrong answer to be part of the group and to fit well.
  2. They believed that the group (the other seven students) were better informed.

Social proof is a powerful phenomenon that is used extensively by marketers to influence the buying decisions of their ideal customers.

Social Proof Types

Social proof isn’t just about celebrity endorsement rather it comes in several forms and types. Shift your focus from press mentions to becoming an informational social influence that interacts with its audience.

The famous social proof types that you can use for your business include:

1. Testimonials

Customer testimonials are one of the most effective forms of social proof. Each testimonial is a confidence vote from satisfied customers that does an exceptional job of persuading potential buyers to go for your product.

Did you know that you can now automate the whole testimonial collection process? By integrating your CRM with Trustmary, you can focus to increase conversions with testimonials rather than collecting them personally.

social proof collection automated

2. Reviews

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’ve received from existing customers.

The problem is that you need to get them on your website to be able to reap the benefits. You can import your reviews from third party sites and start using them on your website with social proof popups and lead generation forms!

3. Social Media Shares

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 matter, but the total number of followers on your profile 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. When new users see that thousands of people consider your content to be worth the follow, they’ll follow suit. It’s due to social proof.

4. Expert Endorsement

Getting your product or business featured, stamped, endorsed, or shared by an expert is another effective social proof technique.

certification social proof

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.

You can also try to get press mentions in a valued industry publication to reach your target audience – the industry experts.

Does Social Proof Work?

Yes, it does work. Here are some social proof statistics that speak for themselves:

  1. An average consumer reads 10 testimonials before making a purchase decision.
  2. 70% of consumers will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know.
  3. 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer.
  4. 97% of consumers reported that online reviews and testimonials influence their purchasing decisions.
  5. 40% of people have purchased a product because they saw an influencer using it on social media.
  6. 49% of people rely on recommendations from influencers on Twitter.
  7. 14% of people say that celebrity endorsements impact their buying decisions.
  8. 68% of buyers are more likely to buy from a local business if it has positive reviews.
  9. Video testimonials are reported to increase the sales page conversion rate by 32%.
  10. 57% of consumers will only buy from a business if it has at least a 4-star rating.

Here are some further online review statistics that’ll blow your mind.

Yes, social proof works, and it works in all forms. Here is an example from Radientum that showcases what experts are saying about them:

social proof example

Social Proof on Website

In online marketing, you need to have social proof on your website at crucial strategic places. This is because it’s most likely increase your overall website conversion rates.

The sections that play a key role in using social proof from happy customers include:

  1. Landing page
  2. Near CTAs
  3. Pricing page
  4. Next to new product or service
  5. Product pages

All of these will encourage people, especially new visitors, to trust your company and to do the desired action. Whether it be buying, subscribing to an email list, leaving contact information, the power of social proof will get the job done!

Forms of Social Proof to Use on a Website

It’s not enough to have just one testimonial on your site. You need to test and try different types of social proof to see what works well for your ideal customer profile!

Case Study

If you’re selling products or services that have a high price point, it’s always a good idea to create case stories of why your customer chose you. Highlight the concrete benefits they’re getting from using your services!

Social Proof Popups

The companies looking for big results add social proof popups to their website.

Using social proof popups bring the following benefits:

  • Add credibility to your business: “Marie says: I’ve used this daily since I bought it. Love it ❤️”
  • Create an element of fear of missing out: “Only four products left!”
  • Provide users with the information they’re looking for: ratings and reviews

Let’s face it: people are looking for info on whether you’re a legit business or not. Make it easy for them to trust you by showing that you actually have a large number of happy customers!

Next to CTAs

Social proof isn’t just about testimonials and reviews from strangers. It can also be about numbers.

Email subscribers are much more likely to subscribe to a list, if you show how many already signed up!

“Join our community of over 5.000 marketers!”

However, the most influential way is to mention which people from their network is already a subscriber. Facebook and LinkedIn are great in utilizing this tactic.

Conclusion

Now that you know what social proof is, it’s 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? (And please keep it that way. Never buy Google reviews!)

Get started today and see how social proof helps your business grow.

Further Reading