Let's talk about social proof! This article will tell you more about it, what it is, and how it can benefit any business, no matter how big or small. Let's dive straight in.
What Is Social Proof?
"Social Proof is the best thing your customers can get if they don't know anyone who used your products or services"
Social proof is one of the best ways to gain the trust of future customers. Getting social proof will ease customer's minds, and they will know that your business is real and that you are not just a random internet scammer.
The best thing your customers can get is social proof if they don't know anyone who used your products or services.
Based on Robert Cialdini, who studied the principle of social proof in-depth in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, “we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it”. So often in situations where we are uncertain about what to do, we would assume that the people around us (experts, celebrities, friends, etc.) have more knowledge about what’s going on and what should be done.
Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly important, as the Internet grows in size. No matter what you sell, there is likely dozens if not hundreds of services and products similar to yours. Customers are more informed than ever before, but also more suspicious than they once were.
Make them lower their guard by adding social proof, so they can actually hear what you have to say and consider your offer. After all, you are looking to take their hard earned money, and you better convince them your service is well worth the price. If you don't, they will move on, and find someone else who will, and you will lose business to your competition.
Types Of Social Proof You Should Consider
With all that being said, we often make judgments based on our overall impression of someone — A.K.A. the halo effect (named by psychologist Edward Thorndike). For example:
- We think anything that experts use is great because they are probably more knowledgeable than us in their area of specialization.
- We buy products endorsed by celebrities because we want to look like them.
- We trust user reviews because they have experienced the product or service, unlike ourselves.
You see social proof everywhere, even in your Facebook feed. Here are some examples of it:
#1 The number of social shares and likes
This is obvious, people trust "liked" things more. But getting a ton of likes also makes it more likely for new people to see your content, as posts with more likes and comments show higher in feeds. If you have a huge following, putting up subscriber counts on your site is also a good idea.
#2 Customer reviews on sites like TrustPilot
These sites usually tell the complete story about companies. Getting enough positive reviews on big sites like TrustPilot will show that you are getting praised by real people, and not just your affiliates, or influencers you bribed. However, this is a double-edged sword, because angry people are more likely to leave negative comments than satisfied clients positive ones. You better have a top-notch service!
#3 Testimonials on your site
Putting informative testimonials that show how your services benefited your prior or current customers is one of the best ways to gain the trust of future ones. Here, quality matters, so don't just put "Awesome job!" testimonials, you want those which show results and improvements.
#4 Influencer endorsements
These matter, if they come from favorite bloggers, or Instagram influencers, as long as they are genuine (or at least seem so). When reaching out to influencers, make sure they are credible, and not just people who would advertise anything for $20.
#5 Expert reviews
If an expert in your field tries your services (think about Gordon Ramsey, trying your restaurant) and rates it positively, that rating will probably draw more customers in than a prime time TV commercial.
#6 Case studies
This is one of the most valuable forms of social proofing your services, as it directly shows what people can expect to get if they decide to choose your business. Because case studies require effort or even investments, not many businesses have them, and you will stand out from the crowd.
You can put badges on your site that show other companies or celebrities that use your services. You can even put media logos, with links to articles you were mentioned in. This is usually something like "featured on" or "trusted by" followed by logos of those companies and photos of celebrities. You can even put awards in this section, or security certificates your site has, ensuring customers that they are entirely safe.
Some Tips How To Do Social Proof Right
Don't fake it!
While it seems like a good idea to write some fake testimonials accompanied by some stock photos, don't go that way.
Faking social proof will get you nowhere. It's a better idea to work hard, and then put one honest review to your site, one happy customer that is willing to testify how your services are great.
Also, don't change real testimonials, filling them up with your claims. "John 10x my business using the most sophisticated tools in the industry and following best practices!" has fake written all over it. It's better not to have any testimonials than to have something like that. Work hard, and the real customer experience will follow.
While it sounds like a good idea to post negative social proof that explains how people were doing horrible before hiring you, or how your competitors ruined their business, and you came to help, don't do it.
Not only because it's ethical to respect your colleagues even though you are competing for the same market, but also because it is ineffective. Posting negative social proof actually increases the likelihood that people will do the thing you don't want them to do.
So never highlight something many people do "wrong" as it will make more people do that same thing. "9/10 people never care about marketing..." replace this with "After hiring Your Company, my sales skyrocketed 3x, in just the first year..."
At least add pictures next to your testimonials (make sure that you have the authorization from customers), but if possible, add videos too. Check out this article of the importance of using video in your marketing lineup!
Having real people talking about your services will make a world of difference. Even though they will say the same thing that is written in the testimonial below, a video will buy so much more trust compared to text and even images.
Add multimedia to your case studies too. Show people graphs, diagrams, pie charts, that will back up the claims. Infographics are a popular, but awesome way to gain more trust, include them too.
Just make sure you show quality, but 100% real information, don't try to scam people into buying in.
Your potential customers want to see stories that show results. They want to see other people who are similar to themselves, using your services and getting the desired results.
They want a human approach, and not just numbers, percentages and raw data in sheets and charts. That doesn't mean you should ditch the stats, on the contrary. Use them to back up the claims from the stories, and to satisfy the needs of tech nerds.
One of the MOST powerful & effective ways is to Opt for real-time Social Proof!
Installing apps that show when a purchase is made, your customer joined your group or similar is an incredibly valuable way to show social proof. Knowing that someone else is thinking the same at the same moment will give your potential customers a peace of mind.
People are social creatures, and psychology makes clicking the "buy now" button much easier when we know someone else did it moments before us.
Show in Real-Time related items that other people are buying!
Strive for quality; quantity will come on its own
When reaching out to influencers, or seeking experts to test your services, be picky.
You want people who really know what they're talking about, and who are going to genuinely try your product, not just rate it positively because you paid them.
Those people usually have loyal followers, who trust their judgment and their word. Those type of influencers will think twice before recommending something they don't like or trust.
If you can attract a positive review from those high-quality influencers, you are guaranteeing quality social proof.
If you are in the business for more than a few years, you probably already know who those people are. Grab their attention with quality, and others like them will come on their own.
Little things matter too
While it's great to have experts and major influencers rating your services, and to have real testimonials witnessing the quality of your products, little things matter too.
Make sure every post on your site has like and share buttons, that make it simple for readers to post them on their profiles. This will attract more likes, but also draw more readers into your marketing funnel, increasing sales.
Also, respond to comments, and give honest advice to your readers. That way, you will further build trust, and be a good guy who is not hoarding the information.
Social proof is an extremely important part of digital marketing, that is often taken lightly. SEO can really compliment your Social Proof strategy also.
People think that's enough to write just a couple of fake testimonials, and pay some random Instagram model to hold their product. Those shallow actions can turn out to be counterproductive, resulting in your company losing customer trust instead of gaining it.
Approach the social proof game with caution, and the respect towards your potential customers, they deserve it.
Only by being completely transparent you will buy their trust. Just be careful though, you need to keep your reputation forever, which is not easy. Once you lose it, you lost it for good, that's why it's crucial to stay genuine. Lastly, checkout this amazing article on how to effectively use sales funnels in your marketing stack!