Social Proof: An Introduction

What is social proof, why does it work, and what are some natural ways to incorporate it into your content? Let’s find out.


What is social proof?

TechTarget defines social proof as “the influence that the actions and attitudes of the people around us (either in real life or online) have on our own behavior.”

Why use social proof?

Today’s consumers are cynical. They’re intrinsically distrustful of brands.

That’s why social proof can be such a game changer. When used strategically, it has the power to increase conversions and, therefore, your sales.

How?

By reassuring customers that they’re in good company because others are also buying said product / service.

Think of it this way: All things being equal, which restaurant gives a better impression, the one known to have a line of customers out the door or the one with only a handful of diners?

Social proof: 13% of consumers contact a business after reading positive reviews.
Photo by Yoav Hornung via Unsplash

This way of thinking also applies to the online realm.

In terms of e-commerce, shoppers feel more comfortable knowing that others have made purchases with a company / on a specific website before them. That way, there’s less to worry about.

In fact, here are some interesting statistics:

  • 85% of consumers read an average of 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a certain business.
  • 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 13% of consumers contact a business after reading positive reviews.

(Source: BrightLocal)

Why does it work?

It works for several reasons, namely:

  • When there’s uncertainty, prospects turn to social proof for ‘guidance’ on what to do or think.
  • We are more likely to assume the behaviour of people we can relate to – those we think are like us.
  • Consumers are more likely to be influenced by individuals deemed to be particularly knowledgeable (e.g. they’re experts) in a particular field.
  • The bandwagon effect (and / or the fear-of-missing-out) kicks in.
A man giving a thumbs up through his smartphone screen.
Photo: Pixabay

How do you show social proof?

There are different types of social proof that could improve conversions, such as:

  • Expert advice: When an expert in your industry recommends your product / service over the alternatives.
  • Reviews: When current or previous customers recommend your product / service / establishment.
  • Testimonials: When happy customers act as a reference for your business with an ‘official’ positive statement. This is often included on landing pages.
  • Case Studies: When you outline a client’s real-life situation before and after choosing your product / service.
  • Figures: When you use real figures or data to show that you are trusted by a large number of individuals.
  • Trust Icons: When you feature the logos / names of those already using / talking about your product or service.

Pro Tip: Social proof isn’t always positive. Negative reviews and poor ratings are also considered social proof, except this kind is incredibly detrimental to conversions.

Other options include:

  • celebrity endorsements;
  • the use of influencers;
  • and social media activity such as the number of likes, followers, mentions, etc.

To boost conversions, your social proof must be real and should fit into your copy / content organically.

Remember that you’re using it to build trust and therefore encourage prospects to take action. Implemented improperly, it can come across as boastful or even deceitful.

What about those that don’t have any?

Now what about businesses that are just getting started and don’t have social proof?

If this is your situation, don’t fret. It is truly not the end of the world. There are other ways you can earn trust – including optimizing your copy.

Does your copy need improvement?
Contact me for a FREE consultation.

Once you have happy customers, think about ways to collect social proof for future use.

Here are some examples:

  • Encourage customers to leave a review or to rate their experience.
  • Ask clients if they’d be willing to give a testimonial or perhaps be included in a case study.
  • Feature positive media coverage on your site.