Social Proof Marketing: Add Instant Credibility to the Value You Promise18 min read
Your product is great. And people should definitely buy it. But simply saying this doesn’t make it true.
Humans don’t take most things at face value. Especially in the digital age. Everything we want to know about a company is at our fingertips. And we use that power.
Say you’re in an unfamiliar situation. You look around to see what others are doing, right? Then you’ve got an idea of how to behave. This is a concept known as social proof.
We need other people to validate our choices. Even more so when it’s for things we pay for.
Social proof marketing helps to build trust with potential customers. And it’ll add instant credibility to the value you promise. Here’s how.
What are the different types of social proof?
The term “social proof” was coined by psychologist Robert Cialdini. He spent his entire career studying the science of influence. And boy, are we influenced.
Think about it:
- Our friends’ opinions affect what we buy
- We join long lines to get into places we assume must be good
- We listen to recommendations from people we don’t even know
- Canned laughter on TV shows makes us laugh more
Basically, we base most of our decisions on the actions of others. It’s a huge part of marketing psychology. And businesses can use this to their advantage.
There are 6 different forms of social proof:
- Expert: an industry expert recommends your brand.
- Celebrity: a celebrity endorses your products.
- User: customers recommend and review your products based on their experiences.
- The wisdom of the crowd: a large group of people endorses your brand.
- The wisdom of your friends: people see their friends using and enjoying your products and services.
- Certification: you get a stamp of approval (verification) from an authoritative figure in your industry.
They all have a part to play. And you can base your social proof marketing campaigns on all of them.
Why is social proof so effective?
Why does social proof marketing work so well? Well, the clue’s in the name.
It’s not a regular digital marketing strategy. You’re not having to convince people to buy your product. You’re letting current customers do it for you. So, it feels way more natural.
Happy customers spread the love. It’s why word of mouth marketing is so effective. Because it’s genuine. And if there’s one thing modern consumers want, it’s authenticity.86% of consumers agree it’s a key factor when deciding what brands they’ll support. While 81% say they need to trust a brand before buying from them.
Social proof works by building that trust. And it can come in many forms.
That blue verification tick on social media is one. It’s the stamp of approval from certain social networks. It shows you’re legit. But it can be really tricky to get it.
It can also be as simple as popup notifications on your Shopify site. Showing when someone has just bought something.
Someone else has just parted with their hard-earned dollars. So, it makes you feel more comfortable doing it too.
It can even be a simple retweet with nice things your customers say:
But let’s get into it. What other methods can you add to your strategy?
How to use social proof marketing to add instant credibility
Old-style marketing doesn’t work anymore. You know the type. When a cigarette brand says your doctor recommends it. So, it’s gotta be true, right?
No dice, my friend. Nowadays, you need to back up your promises. And it can’t just be your voice over and over.
Social proof shows that other people trust you. And new customers need to hear from loyal ones before increasing your conversion rate.
So, here are 6 forms of social proof marketing that’ll back up your claims:
- Social shares
- Reviews and testimonials
- Case studies
- Expert social media takeovers
- Micro-influencers and brand ambassador endorsements
- User-generated content
Social media marketing is an area all business owners should be involved in. But randomly promoting yourself isn’t going to do much. Content marketing should aim to help. Not sell.
People don’t care about your business. They care about what you can do for them. And someone sharing your social media posts shows you’ve connected with them. You’ve made them feel something.
Social shares are also linked to SEO. So, it’s a win-win.
Now, how can you optimize your content to encourage these social shares?
- Make sure your content is useful
- Keep it visual across all social media platforms
- Evoke strong emotions (like FOMO)
- Add social share buttons to your site
- Use a tool like Quuu Promote
- Add hashtags to get discovered
Getting hundreds of shares is no easy feat. And there’s a ton of content being posted every second on all platforms. So, you have to make sure yours is worth sharing.
Customer reviews and testimonials
On eCommerce sites, social proof marketing comes from other customers’ online reviews. If they have a good experience, you assume you will too. Amazon bases its whole customer-centric strategy on this.
79% of shoppers trust online reviews from strangers just as much as people they know. So, positive reviews from satisfied customers are important.
But don’t run away from your bad ones either. Trustpilot revealed 62% of consumers say they won’t support brands that censor user reviews. Getting bad feedback? Use it to figure out how you can improve things.
There are a few different ways to collect product reviews:
- Ask for customer testimonials
- Add star ratings to your product pages
- Join global review sites like Trustpilot or Yelp
- Offer an incentive to do so
It’s an easy form of social proof marketing to implement. And can have a huge impact on purchasing decisions. So, make sure you create products that your target audience will love. (And don’t forget to price them well!)
A case study shows how your business has solved someone’s problem. And a lot of companies get this form of social proof marketing wrong.
They make it all about them. Rather than the person they’ve helped.
The best case studies tell a story. Especially ones people can relate to. So, find some of your satisfied customers. And ask if they’d be ok with answering a few questions.
Try choose a mixed bunch too. That use your product in different ways. Or for different reasons. That way, you’re expanding your reach.
Then tell your story. Show how your customer got from A to B. And the barriers they overcame to get there. Of course, you’ll need to show how you fit in. But keep the focus on them.
Once you’ve got a few, you can showcase them in different ways:
- Create articles for your blog
- Offer downloadable PDFs
- Have a dedicated page on your site
- Turn them into a video series
- Use them in your email marketing
- Pass them to your sales team
- Share them on your social sites (e.g. LinkedIn or Twitter)
Source: Sprout Social
People love transformation stories too. Especially if your product or service changed someone’s life. But remember to try and show. Not tell. Keep it as visual as possible.
If you’re in an industry like fitness or skincare, this’ll be pretty easy. People love to share great results. And user-generated content can be a great way for retailers to find happy customers. But I’ll cover that in a bit.
Expert social media takeovers
Expert social proof is one of the most powerful types. Because humans are born with the desire to be led. We like the comfort of being guided and supported by someone with authority.
Social media takeovers can do a lot for your brand’s credibility. And they don’t have to be promotional in any way. In fact, it’s best they’re not.
They can help you show a more human side to your brand. You can also use them to highlight different parts of your core values.
For example, say you’re all about recycled materials. You could have an environmental activist take over your social accounts.
Like Footwear brand Allbirds. They’re all about sustainable footwear. And they let plant coach Nick Cutsumpas use their Insta feed to share tips on caring for indoor plants:
No shoes in sight. But they are promoting their commitment to the environment. And that’s something we can all get behind.
Quorn makes meat-free veggie and vegan products. And they let different researchers take over their Instagram posts to teach people about general nutrition:
Experts and thought leaders partnering with you on social media shows they trust and back your brand. And if people with authority clearly do, your target audience will too.
Micro-influencer and brand ambassador endorsements
Influencer marketing used to be all about celebrity endorsements. And this was a popular form of social proof marketing for a long time. But now, only 3% of consumers are influenced by them when purchasing products.
Then came the rise of influencers. And they had a lot of sway for a while. But some of the biggest influencers are now almost celebrities in their own right. So, things changed again.
Now, it’s all about quality. Not quantity. And those influencers with the smaller followings actually have the most engaged audiences.
Personal care brand Dove regularly partners with influencers on their channel. They aim to promote natural beauty through the use of their products.
Like influencer Coral Rosado using one of their body washes:
Or you could go down another route to create a brand ambassador program. And offer incentives to get people to create content. Like skincare supplements brand Botanycl:
People want to see how others really use your product. So, don’t go too heavy on production value. That’s what your ads are for.
Find an influencer to partner with. Then give them creative control. They’ve built a dedicated audience based on their content style. So, don’t try to micro-manage.
You’ll find influencers in pretty much every niche. So, do your research to find yours. If you’re struggling, there are tools like BuzzSumo that can help you out with this.
Choosing the right person is key. You want the pairing to feel organic. So, don’t rush this stage.
User-generated content (UGC)
You can post all day long about how great your product is. But a single post from a happy customer has far more impact.
Because it’s saying to their whole network that they believe in your brand. And nowadays, trust is key.
93% of marketers agree that UGC performs better than branded content. Probably because it feels natural. And people trust it more.
There’s no downside to this form of social proof marketing, either. You’re not spending any time or money creating the content. So, any engagement and brand awareness is a bonus.
Beauty brand Coco & Eve uses tons of UGC on their social channels. Because customers always feature their tan and hair care products:
It even works for pets too! Sustainable pet product brand Beco loves to feature pampered pooches:
GoPro’s whole marketing strategy is based on user-generated content. But they sell high-quality adventure cameras. And why wouldn’t you take advantage of the content those produce?
Everyone’s content style is different. So, expect a wide range of results. But how can you encourage people to create UGC in the first place?
- Create a hashtag campaign (and add it to your bio)
- Host a competition or giveaway
- Build relationships with influencers
- Offer deals and discounts for taking part
- Feature your favorites
A huge 70% of consumers will consider UGC reviews or ratings before making purchasing decisions. So, make sure you’re tapping into it.
3 landing page social proof examples
Copywriting is used to persuade people. And your homepage and landing pages will be the first place many potential customers interact with your brand. So, these can really make or break your social proof marketing strategy.
Social proof works alongside great copy. And sometimes even instead of it.
Here are a few examples of what I mean:
Source: Marketing Examples
Check out the difference. From self-promotional plug to persuasion.
Now, plugins like Yoast can help you optimize your copywriting for SEO. But don’t forget. You’re writing for humans.
Conversational copywriting keeps it casual. And understandable. You want it to sound like you’re talking to a friend. And to give people confidence in you. Even with your social proof.
So, here are 3 examples that do just that:
- Graph Paper Press
Website-builder Squarespace keeps its social proof chill. It highlights some big names using the product. But it’s not shoving it in your face.
There are 3 case studies you can explore. Showing how women in different industries use Squarespace. But there’s no wall of text. If you want details, you’ll need to click through yourself.
Basecamp has a cracking homepage. And it shows you can use social proof at all stages of your customer journey. Like this:
This single line under the final sign-up button is genius. It tips people over the edge. That many companies in one week?! Sign us up!
Graph Paper Press
You’ll see the word “trusted” a lot when it comes to social proof. But that’s because it really works. Especially when you back it up with customer testimonials. And that’s what WordPress theme-maker Graph Paper Press has done:
Source: Graph Paper Press
Bonus tip: why not give your “amazingly talented” community some love at the same time? It’ll show you value them right back!
What if you haven’t got any social proof yet?
But one last thing. What if you’re a brand new company? And you haven’t got any social proof yet?
Well, you can still earn people’s trust in 4 ways:
- Show the human side of your business
- Explain your process
- Make potential customers a promise
- Mirror your target audience’s beliefs
Source: Business Casual Copywriting
None of this replaces social proof marketing. But it can help in the meantime while you collect some.
It’s helpful to read about other people’s experiences. Especially when you’re trying to make a decision. And we’re all motivated by them. Positive or negative.
Your marketing strategy needs to include social proof. Because it’s so powerful. So, here are 6 places we covered to drop it in:
- Social media
- Reviews and testimonials
- Case studies
- Influencers and brand ambassador endorsements
- User-generated content
- Landing pages
Usually, I’d recommend you focus on your product’s benefits. Rather than the features. But social proof marketing has its own rules. Because it’s someone else’s words.
You want people to see the impact you’re having on your customers’ lives. So make it clear. Reassure them. And they’re way more likely to take the plunge.
What social proof marketing tactics make you buy? Are there any examples you’ve seen that really impressed you? Let us know below!