What Is Social Proof?
Social proof is the idea that consumers will adapt their behaviour according to what other people are doing. It makes sense, right? When we see a line of customers waiting to eat at a restaurant or a photo of a celebrity drinking a certain brand of coffee, it lends an air of gravitas and quality to the product, doesn’t it?
But there’s more to it than that. In fact, according to business coach Bailey Richert, there are as many as a dozen different types of social proof, with some logical overlap among them. Here’s how social proof can manifest itself:
1. Expert’s Stamp of Approval
Expert social proof is when an industry thought leader or influencer approves of your product. This could take the form of them blogging, posting on social media, or being quoted or photographed as a product user.
2. Celebrity Endorsement
Celebrity social proof typically takes the form of a celebrity using a product and promoting it on social media or in public. This form of social proof is especially meaningful if the endorsement is unpaid.
3. User Testimonials
There’s a reason businesses create case studies about the successes their customers have had using their product: It’s a vote of confidence in the product’s value. All kinds of testimonials can have the same impact. Whether it’s a customer review on the business’s website, a review on a third-party website, a star-based rating, or a full-blown case study, this content creates positive feedback from actual users.
4. Business Credentials
While user testimonials can add value to a product, business credentials can add trust to the product. Businesses can promote credentials like how many customers it has, what well-known businesses are their customers, or the awards and certifications it has received. Sole proprietorships might even use their education or degree as a credential their customers should care about.
5. Earned Media
If the press has published any positive reporting about your brand, this earned media is a great way to build brand awareness, backlinks to your website, and social proof that your business is worth paying attention to.
6. Social Media Shares
The importance of website traffic from social media can vary greatly from company to company, but one thing no business should undervalue is the influence social media posts about your brand can have on potential customers. Enough positive shares of your content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram can be all the proof one needs to invest in your product or service.
7. “Wisdom of the Crowds”
“Wisdom of the Crowds” social proof appeals to our sense of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): When lots of people are using or buying a product, others want to follow suit.
8. “Wisdom of your Friends”
“Wisdom of your Friends” social proof refers to the phenomenon I described previously: The recommendations from people we know and trust carry far more weight than other types of promotions or advertising.
Which Types of Social Proof Work Best?
The (social) proof is in the pudding: Social proof in your marketing and advertising can have a huge impact. But what type of social proof works best?
While this will likely depend on the product or service you are marketing, Sprout Social curated some helpful research by BrightLocal to help shed some light on the situation.
Below you’ll find some noteworthy statistics about the types of social proof that perform best, and what you need to know about convincing your prospective customers:
- 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Placing the logos of business customers on a company website can increase conversions by as much as 400%, according to Voices.com.
- Influencer marketing has been considered the fastest-growing consumer-acquisition channel.
- The average consumer reads 10 online reviews before making a purchase decision.
- 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating.
- For 50% of all consumers, their very next step after reading a positive review about a company is to visit their website.
There’s plenty of food for thought for you to use in your marketing, we hope you found this helpful.