Do you include social proof in your marketing strategy to get people to view and share your content? Convincing potential customers to buy your products or services can be challenging, especially when there’s limited information available online.
Social proof can add credibility to your business’s brand, increase conversions, and generate more leads.
Keep reading to discover the various types of social proof and the importance of incorporating them into your content marketing strategy to help you better connect with customers.
What is social proof?
Generally, social proof refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people assume that others’ behaviors reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
In marketing, social proof refers to advertising in which a marketer uses endorsements from people or organizations to promote their products.
To effectively use social proof, it’s essential to understand the three main principles of social proof and how each can work in your favor.
12 types of social proof
There are different types of social proof that you can use to attract new customers and strengthen your business relationships with old ones. Some of them include:
#1 – Customer reviews
While not all customers will take the time to write a review, those who do are likely already convinced about your business’s value proposition. If you have an active e-commerce site, like HiSmile, consider adding a review section or include your reviews as social media posts.
#2 – Use influencers
Using people with a large social media following to promote your business can effectively gain your brand credibility.
You could reach out to influencers in your industry who have established followings on Instagram and ask them to share photos of themselves using your product. Even huge brands such as Adidas and Pepsi use these marketing strategies, so it is time for you to jump on the influencer trend.
#3 – Customer base numbers
Another way to show social proof is to include numbers on your site that display how many customers you have. If you run a business site, mention your company’s number of followers/customers/visitors. Airbnb demonstrates the use of customer base numbers so well in their about us section.
#4 – Client testimonials
Client testimonials are quick to consume, making them easy to share. They’re also relatively inexpensive to gather and reinforce what a buyer is likely trying to decide. flair is an excellent example of a business that uses client testimonials to sway decision-making. They include client testimonials in their blog content.
#5 – Expert proof
If you can get an expert to share your content or talk about your business their latest YouTube video, you’re sharing your message with a big audience that has already shown interest in topics like yours. One example of a company doing it right is Nature Made, which uses health experts to promote its supplements.
#6 – Client names
Using client names in your copy gives you credibility and trust, especially if that business has authority in its industry. If your customer already trusts someone else in your industry enough to do business with them, there’s a good chance they’ll also give you their business.
#7 – User-generated content
With user-generated content (UGC), you let your audience do all of your talking for you. UGC shows users interacting with or using your product or service. For example, Airbnb allows hosts to share photos of themselves enjoying their homes, giving customers a more personal look at what they can expect from a stay. Airbnb then shares these images across their social media platforms.
#8 – Case studies
A case study is a great way to prove that your product or service can solve a problem for other businesses. Look for companies like yours willing to share their results with your audience for a mention on your website. One company using case studies in their blog content is Crazy Egg to show how customers are using their tools to achieve goals.
#9 – Share customer praise
Share praise from satisfied customers on social media. Make sure to share positive quotes and reviews that highlight your company’s brand identity rather than just a list of generic compliments. Shopify, for example, posts screenshots of tweets that people have made with only positive things to say about the services they offer.
#10 – Affiliate program
A good affiliate program will provide value to your audience while helping drive traffic back to your website. For example, if you’re selling a physical product, you’ll want to run a product-based affiliate program. The Amazon Associates Program is one of the most popular affiliate programs.
#11 – Awards
Some awards can back up your credibility, while others add some flavor to your content. When you have awards from other websites, you can use them as social proof for your clients. BambooHR, for example, showcases its awards in the company profile and across their social media platforms.
#12 – SaaS integrations
If you’re selling a B2B product or service, you can integrate with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool your prospects are familiar with. These integrations demonstrate to candidates that they’ll be able to scale their use of your device quickly and easily.
Vectornator uses SaaS integrations to significant effect. Showing that their illustration tool integrates with better-known software tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Figma, tells potential customers that those companies have put their trust in Vectornator.
Why should your content marketing include social proof?
In the marketing industry, there is no better way to promote your business or product than through social proof. By leveraging the power of social media and well-placed references, you can boost the credibility of your brand and make prospective clients want to work with you.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people rely on others to help make decisions.
The idea behind social proof is that it must be safe or effective if other people are doing something. Therefore, many people will make choices based on what they believe others are doing instead of basing their choice on facts or statistics alone.
The principles of persuasion of Robert Cialdini
Robert Cialdini, an American psychologist, and author, is known for his groundbreaking work on influence, persuasion, and compliance techniques. In one of his most famous books, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he discusses six principles that affect our decision-making process. They include:
- Reciprocity– People tend to return a favor, and if you provide them with something first, they will be more likely to comply with your request later.
- Scarcity– persons place a higher value on things that are rare or difficult to obtain, so if you tell them that something is limited, they will be more likely to comply.
- Authority– People tend to follow authorities, and if you can establish yourself as an expert or leader on a topic, they will be more likely to comply.
- Commitment and consistency– Individuals want to be consistent with their previous actions, so if you can get them to commit to something, chances are they will comply.
- Liking- Persons are more likely to comply with your request if they like you, so it’s essential to make them feel comfortable and trust you before asking for a favor.
- Consensus (social proof)– People are more likely to commit to you if they see that others are doing it.
Benefits of social proof
There are several types of social proof; read on to learn about the top five benefits of using each type of social proof in your online content marketing efforts.
More natural form of marketing
Social proof aligns with the inherent need to fit in and conform to society. By encouraging others to do business with you, you effectively show them there’s little risk involved. They, therefore, trust that their peers had done well when choosing your company.
With social proof, you have real-life data showing that people are already engaging with your product or service. This marketing method is much less pushy than traditional forms, like ads and commercials, which can be off-putting for some potential clients.
For example; rather than posting a posed Instagram picture from your latest product shoot, you post a screenshot of a glowing review from a customer that you pulled from a review website or your own direct messages.
Improves your SEO
With search engines now factoring in a page’s popularity, social proof helps you rank higher in SEO. If customers see that other people like your business, they’re more likely to trust it and do business with you.
On top of that, social proof draw, even more, leads to your site and improves your authority in search results. With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why marketers often call social proof one of their most powerful assets.
Increase brand trust
As a business owner, setting yourself apart is essential to building a reputation as an industry leader and showing that your company provides value. When you add social proof to your online presence, you give customers more reason to trust you.
According to eMarketer, 95.6% of consumers say a company with an excellent online reputation increases their trust in the brand. They know you must be doing something right if so many people have rated your products positively in one form or another.
To increase brand trust through your content marketing strategy you could share user-generated content across your social media platforms, even if temporarily via your ‘stories’, to show that others trust you and use your brand.
Enhance brand credibility
Customers are social creatures, and their buying decisions often depend on what other people have to say about your brand. By harnessing social proof, you can shape online word-of-mouth to your advantage.
If a review claims that your product works wonders or that it’s a scam, then customers will be more likely to buy it or not based on those reviews. You can share reviews across a paid advertising campaign, in your email marketing campaigns or integrated into your social media posts.
Social proof will help increase traffic from people who want to see if what everyone else is saying is true. Brand credibility is increased if the people talking about your brand are industry influencers or experts.
Encourage purchase decision
When it comes to making purchases, consumers tend to have questions and doubts. The easiest way to eliminate these doubts is by hearing what other customers say.
Using social proof, you can clearly understand what others think about something and decide for yourself. In fact, according to a survey, 93% of customers suggest that online reviews influence their buying decisions. And I know for a fact that I am one of those people.
One of the biggest social proof tactics for this is to let potential customers know via your content marketing how many others have already purchased your product. This makes consumers feel as though they are missing out and will influence them to make a purchase.
Based on this discussion, it is clear that social proof has many benefits. Social proof comes in many different forms. The form of social proof you use will depend on your business objectives and what you have available to you.
Different forms of social proof include user-generated content, reviews, testimonials, integrations, awards, the use of influencers, customer base numbers, expert proof, client names, sharing customer praise, case studies, and last (but certainly not least) an affiliate program.
As Robert Cialdini outlined, social proof is a vital principle of persuasion. Social proof, or ‘consensus’, relies on the fact that consumers will do something purely because they see others doing it and don’t want to miss out.
From a marketing perspective, social proof can help boost your conversion rates, build brand credibility and generate more leads for your business. Consumers are increasingly relying on social proof for buying decisions as they become increasingly wary of taking the business’s word on their own products and services.
From a consumer perspective, social proof can help you decide which products and services to purchase. Regardless of whether you’re a marketer or consumer, social proof should be an essential factor in any decision-making process.