What is Social Proof and How Can You Put It Into Practice?

When it comes to business and marketing, many consumers aren’t aware of the psychology that connects these two industries together. With new trends constantly emerging in the digital age, businesses are implementing more strategic marketing tactics to keep up with the times. We all know the importance of consumer trust, and social proof is a driving force behind not only trust, but generating sales for your brand.

What is Social Proof?

What exactly is social proof? To put it simply, social proof is a psychological effect that persuades us to imitate what others around us are doing. Social proof is already used by many popular brands that you know and love.

Purchasing the latest iPhone because all your friends bought it, or buying a skincare product because of a celebrity endorsement are examples of social proof in action. Social proof comes in many forms, including:

            • Influencer marketing
            • User testimonials
            • Social media sharing
            • Established seal of approval
            • Case studies
            • Rankings

The psychology of persuasion aligns directly with social proof. When we are unsure of a product or service, human nature is to turn to others who have used it.

The overall impression we get from social proof in practice is, “If other people like it and it works for them, then it must be good.”

Businesses and brands must keep in mind that there is the influence of conformity with any product or service. The important consideration is determining where your product and audience co-exist. Most products and services fall into two major categories, with  68% of consumers being considered early and late majority. Alternatively, innovators and adapters only account for only 16%.[1]

As a prominent and influential phenomenon, social proof is a key technique used in marketing today.

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Why Should You Use Social Proof?

Implemented in both online and offline environments, social proof has become an essential marketing technique used by companies worldwide. Well-known eCommerce websites such as Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress incorporate social proof into their respective product pages, allowing customers to view items online without having to physically see the product.

According to research put forward by Northwestern University’s MEDILL Spiegel Research Center, online reviews are a driving force behind purchasing decisions. In fact, the research found that displaying reviews can increase conversions by 270%.[2] Incorporating social proof into your marketing campaigns can bring significant results for a growing business. By using social proof, brands can see considerable gains including:

            • Increased traffic
            • Brand establishment
            • Increased brand awareness
            • Building brand trust
            • Higher rankings and reviews

Social proof is effective across all industries, but is particularly influential in eCommerce. By utilizing social proof marketing, brands can see a substantial boost in sales and conversions as they strengthen their connection with their audiences.

Put Social Proof Into Practice

There are multiple ways to put social proof into practice, allowing you to get creative in your marketing campaigns. Here are a few ways your brand can use social proof in your marketing strategy:

1. Influencer Takeover

Whether it is a celebrity figure or a micro-influencer, having recognized personalities make exclusive appearances on your social media channels can elevate your brand. When followers and peers see a popular figure endorsing or collaborating with a brand, curiosity and FOMO drive traffic and conversions.  There’s a very real chance that loyal followers of fan-favorite celebrities and influencers will want try out the product. The power of influencers is paramount to establishing social proof.

2. Testimonials, Ratings, and Reviews

Reviews are key drivers when building a social proof marketing strategy. According to Qualtrics, 91% of  consumers aged 18-34 trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. [3] This goes back to the psychological aspect of consumer behavior. We feel more comfortable making a purchase based on product reviews and ratings. Every brand’s website is crucial for showcasing products and displaying testimonials and reviews from established buyers. Reviews left by consumers establish trust and help power buying decisions. When researching products, it is critical to know the difference between authentic vs. fake reviews. In 2020, fraudulent review detection service Fakespot found that 42% of 720 million Amazon reviews assessed were fake. Consumers are becoming more educated on how to spot fake reviews and often look to trustworthy third-party websites to help them with their purchasing decisions.

3. Seal of Approval

Expert certification establishes trust between the consumer and the brand. A product is seen as trustworthy and stands out from the competition with a recognized consumer endorsement. That’s where we come in. Products bearing the Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval gives your product enhanced shelf appeal and lets consumers know your product is trusted by parents, for parents.

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4. User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a product’s answer to “show me, don’t tell me.” In addition to written testimonials and reviews, brands can showcase user-generated content with videos, photos and stories created by consumers who have rave reviews for your product. UGC makes your brand appear more authentic and trustworthy, giving consumers a genuine connection to your brand.

According to Hubspot, consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on referrals they’ve seen on social media platforms. In fact, online conversions increase 133% when mobile shoppers see positive reviews before buying, and 54% of people have purchased a consumer packaged good (CPG) after seeing user-generated content on the product.[3]

5. Create a Blog

With industries becoming more competitive, many brands are creating blogs for their websites to increase awareness and boost search engine rankings. A blog is beneficial for many businesses to establish their brand as an authoritative voice in their industry and solidify trust with their target audience. Adding social media share buttons and counters on your content can help optimize your blog and encourage your readers to share your story, increasing engagement.

Investing time and resources into boosting your brand’s social proof can have incredible returns. The marketing landscape is always changing, but social proof remains a constant. Consumers want to purchase products that are trusted by others, and showcasing social proof in your marketing strategy will grow your brand, drive conversions and build customer loyalty.

References

[1] Courtney, S. (2021, January 15). What is Social Proof? The Ultimate Guide (2021). https://www.nudgify.com/social-proof/

[2] Askalidis, Y., and Malthouse, E.C. (2016). “The Value of Online Customer Reviews”  https://spiegel.medill.northwestern.edu/how-online-reviews-influence-sales/

DeGruttola, M. (2021, January 13). Social Proof in Ecommerce: How Does It Work? (2021). https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/social-proof-examples/#different-types-of-social-proof

Stieb, M. (2022, July 26). Amazon’s War on Fake Reviews https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/07/amazon-fake-reviews-can-they-be-stopped.html

Ewing, M. (2019, June 28). 71% More Likely to Purchase Based on Social Media Referrals [Infographic]. https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30239/71-More-Likely-to-Purchase-Based-on-Social-Media-Referrals-Infographic.aspx

[3] Kaemingk, D. (2020, October 30). Online review statistics to know in 2022 https://www.qualtrics.com/blog/online-review-stats/