What is Social Proof and How do we use it to our Advantage?
Sep 20, 2019

What is Social Proof and How do we use it to our Advantage?

What in the world is social proof? Why is it important? How does it affect your business? How does it affect digital marketing? What is the best type? There are so many questions and lots and lots of answers, but let’s start by defining exactly what social proof is. According to Wikipedia, social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.

A good example of this would be Amazon reviews. Do you look at these reviews? If so do they affect your decision to purchase? I don’t know about you, but if an item has glowing reviews I’m going to take that as a sign that I must purchase it. Thousands of people can’t be wrong, right? So how does social proof affect digital marketing? It’s actually very similar to what we have just mentioned. Approval from credible sources, endorsements from well known celebrities/personalities, or a large number of people supporting your business – all will help your business credibility and all are considered social proof.

Now that we are all on the same page. What are the best types of social proof for your business? There are many questions and lots of sites online with gobs of information on the topic. We have decided to save you the time and effort of going through them all and are going to give you the top types of social proof.

One of the most trusted forms of social proof is the earlier mentioned online review. According to SearchEngineJournal, “When potential customers see positive reviews and photos from past customers, they become more confident in their purchasing decision. 

  •  87% of online shoppers conduct online research before ever making a purchase. 
  • 61% read product reviews to gather information about the product they want to buy. 

A glowing review can turn an unknown product or company into a trendsetting sensation overnight.” 

Online reviews aren’t only influential for purchasing goods but are also huge in restaurant or even movie selection. Reviews can be helpful in choosing the best place to go for vacation and then what to do once there. How many times have you been on vacation and needed help picking where to go for dinner or where to take your kids for the best ice cream in town? We all want the best and online reviews help us to make our final decision the best that it can be. 

You may not be a follower, but if thousands of people are giving positive reviews on it… Well, maybe it can’t be that bad? The online review is a key example of social proof and is without a doubt a huge influencer in our daily selections. 

Another example of social proof is endorsements. Either unpaid or paid advertisements – endorsements show us that when a well known individual/celebrity use a specific product, that it must be good enough for the average person as well. 

Bailey Richert sums it up pretty well: “Ever wonder why companies pay celebrities to endorse their products, even when that celebrity has nothing to do with the company? It’s because people make an association between the celeb and the product after they say something about it. If you like the celebrity, you may give the product a try.” 

“Celebrity social proof typically takes the form of a celebrity using a product and promoting it on social media or in public. This form of social proof is especially meaningful if the endorsement is unpaid” according to Hubspot

For instance, a snap-shot of Emma Stone holding a Starbucks cup, Ellen commenting on which type of peanut butter she prefers, or even Blake Lively drinking a Diet Coke. Celebrities are walking advertisements, so any product that they recommend or are seen using is bound to get a lot more attention. These types of endorsements are considered unpaid. 

Paid endorsements are seen everyday; commercials, advertisements, online, games on your phone, or even the Superbowl. Done right, paid endorsements are proven to consistently show the viewing public what products to buy, where to shop and which perfume will attract your soulmate. It’s social proof!! 

We have read reviews and seen the celebrity endorsements. What else would be considered social proof? Our third example takes us to social media. The number of likes you receive, the number of followers you have, or enough positive shares of your business content will be the proof that is needed for a client to invest in your product or service. Marketing Land says: “You can generate a certain amount of social proof simply by having a strong, loyal and engaged audience on social media. For example, which company would you trust to be more authoritative — the one with 100 followers and no new posts since 2015, or the one with 10,000 followers and daily activity and conversations between the brand and its customers?” 

People are generally going to follow, purchase, or share posts from a company with many followers. These followers are the proof that the company must be a success and must have the best product or service around. 

Sprout Social put together some noteworthy statistics: 

  • 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. 
  • Influencer marketing has been considered the fastest-growing consumer-acquisition channel. 
  • 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating. 

social media is a huge piece of social proof and needs to be included in the online presence of any company looking to succeed. 

Many types of social proof, maybe not all, fit for every type of business, but there is really no excuse not to be integrating some form of social proof into your marketing plan. Let’s face it, an individual can have the most amazing, world changing product out there, but without some form of social proof backing it up, few will take the time to find it and worse yet, the world will never know what it’s missing. 

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