Using social proof, you can influence customers to follow along with others they admire and respect whether that be leaders, celebrities, or neighbors.
From buying a car to choosing the best place to eat lunch, chances are we’ll check out the online reviews first before making a decision. Yes, we really do care about other people’s opinions when it comes to spending our money. Research shows that 91% of consumers read customer reviews either regularly or occasionally and 84% trust those reviews as much as they would a friend’s recommendation.
That’s why social proof is important for your business and/or brand.
Defining Social Proof
First, let’s backtrack a bit and define social proof or ‘informational social influence.’ Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon, wherein, according to Wikipedia: ‘people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.’ In a nutshell -we care what people are doing, whether it’s buying a certain product or eating at a particular restaurant. We value their judgment on whether the experience was positive or negative. And if we see many people respond in the same way(wisdom of the crowd), then we feel comfortable in acting on that information by buying that same product or service.
So what types of social proof are there?
User Social Proof
This is when current customers recommend products and services based on their positive experiences with your brand or product. For example praise on social media or good reviews on rating sites.
These can come in various forms:
These are an excellent form of user social proof and should be visible and liberally added to your website, as they’re credible and authentic, especially if you also have a photo of the happy customer!
We’re all familiar with these as the stats quoted above reflect! So it’s very important to encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page and website.
These are more time consuming than the rest but worth it, as it’s an opportunity to tell an in-depth story involving a customer and your product. How did your service or product help them solve a problem? You can become a journalist for a day and interview one of your happy customers for your blog or website.
Expert Social Proof
These include influencer posts –this is a mention of your brand in a Tweet, an Instagram nod, or an entire blog about your business or product –whatever form it takes if an influencer endorses your product organically (that is, unpaid) it’s a great boost for your sales.
A mention by a celebrity is a huge boost of course, but a little harder to come by unless you’re a huge corporation with big bucks, or else have friends in high places!
Wisdom of the Crowd
This basically means what’s the most popular option regarding products, services, restaurants, and so on. Many brands use it –for example touting how many people like or use the product in an ad. You can also add a ‘Most Popular’category on your site.
Wisdom of Friends
We all ask our friends for recommendations at least once a month, right? Whether it’s for a hairstylist or a good book –this is basically a form of ‘wisdom of friends’ social proof. Often organic, you can still use this to promote your business, by encouraging people to ‘like’ your brand on social media and share your content. You can also create referral links, being sure to offer an incentive.
Social proof is a powerful way to influence consumer choice, build customer loyalty, and draw in new customers.