Social proof is one of the most used psychological phenomena in marketing. It explains why people copy others and follow the actions and behavior of others. It is used to influence the buying decisions of your target audience. Research shows that 97% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchase decisions. There isn’t any second opinion about whether social proof in marketing works, it simply does.
If you are not sure what is social proof, read this post.
But what’s the best way to use social proof in marketing? How your brand can make the best use of social proof to influence the buying decisions of your ideal customers?
Let’s figure out…
1. Testimonials and Reviews
Customer testimonials are one of the best ways to use social proof in marketing and make it work for your brand. Why?
Because testimonials work best to explain to your audience what the right behavior is – that is to buy your product and use it.
The majority of people are imitators, according to research, and only 5% are initiators. This is the reason why as much as 88% of consumers trust online reviews and consider them as personal recommendations. Another study found that an average consumer reads up to 10 testimonials before making a purchase decision.
When your customers are always in search of customer testimonials and reviews, you should develop a strategy for using them in your marketing campaigns. It’s a two-step process:
- Encourage customers to share their testimonial in any form or leave a review on a third-party review website.
- Use positive testimonials in your marketing campaigns.
You can’t rely on your customers and expect them to leave a review. You can’t and you shouldn’t. Even if a customer is loyal and extremely satisfied, it’s highly unlikely that he will share a testimonial. Customers usually engage in word of mouth marketing more than sharing formal testimonials. Yes, word of mouth marketing has its own benefits and you need it, but to use social proof in marketing, you need testimonials and reviews – a lot of them.
You need to reach out to your customers and request them to share a testimonial or leave a review. Develop a systematic approach to testimonial collection and management. Have a dedicated team in your office that will contact customers, seek their permission for a testimonial, compensate them for their time, record their testimonial, guide them, edit review and testimonials, manage them, screen them, and send the best ones every month to the marketing team.
Your marketing team can then use the best testimonials and reviews in marketing campaigns to show your audience what other customers are saying about your brand and products. This might seem a lot of work but once streamlined, it doesn’t seem too much of a work.
Reviews and testimonials can be used in marketing campaigns in any way you like. Use customer testimonials on your website, PPC campaigns, landing pages, and case studies. Similarly, you can use reviews in the newsletter, website, blog, social media, and squeeze pages.
Here is an example of how to use customer testimonials in marketing:
You get the idea, right?
2. Social Media Proof
Social media following is another great way to use social proof in marketing. You can exponentially grow your followers with the social proof phenomenon. When people see other people liking or following a page, they will follow it too.
There are multiple ways to use social media proof in marketing. The best approach is to use your existing social media followers to make your target audience follow you.
Use the number of social media followers on your website or blog to tell visitors how famous you are among people on a specific social media platform. This will persuade them to follow you.
Here is an example:
Adding the number of shares with the social icons on your blog posts will encourage readers to do the same provided you have a lot of shares. Here is an example:
Initially, it might be hard to make it work when you have few likes, shares, and followers but once you have a decent number, it will grow on autopilot. That’s the beauty of social proof, it works automatically.
3. Awards and Mentions
This happens to be a great way to use social proof in marketing. If your business has won awards or has been nominated for a leading award in your industry, that’s a great opportunity to capitalize on it.
When you use awards, mentions, recognitions, etc., it makes your brand trustworthy. It indicates that people and experts prefer using your brand which kicks the social proof phenomenon. Since awards and certificates are issued by experts, your audience will trust you and will consider these as expert endorsements. HootSuite does a great job of sharing love from analysts and leading customers:
Here is another way to share your award and success with your audience by publishing it on your blog:
If you have worked with popular businesses or celebrities or any popular figure, you should mention them on your website so as to tell visitors that your brand is trusted by experts. Here is an example of how to do it:
You need to see where your business is mentioned. Popular publications, leading authors, and journalists mention brands all the time. All you have to do is track brand mentions and share them on your website, blog, social accounts, and marketing collateral to boost social proof.
There are several ways to use social proof in marketing and all of them work. You need to handpick the ones you wish to use that align with your brand’s strategy.
Social proof won’t come to you, you need to find ways to get it. Customer testimonials, reviews, awards, celebrity endorsements, case studies, followers, and other types of social proof is hard to earn, and you shouldn’t expect that it will be automatically generated for your business as it will grow.
No, it doesn’t happen.
No matter how popular your company gets, you will have to find ways to stay alive by using social proof in marketing. That’s how it works.