What is Social Proof? 15 Tried and Tested Ways to Use it (With Examples)!
As social creatures, humans are constantly looking to others for cues on how to behave. This is what we call social proof in marketing.
Have you ever been out to eat with friends and had a hard time deciding what to order? Or wondered what kind of car to buy? Or whether or not to go on a certain vacation? If so, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. We’re faced with a decision and don’t know what to do. This is when we look to our peers for guidance. We try to find someone who has already made the same decision and see how they feel about it.
This is an example of social proof, otherwise known as “informational social influence.” When we see other people doing something, we’re more likely to do it ourselves. If we see people we trust and respect behaving in a certain way, we’re more likely to follow their lead. Social proof is a powerful psychological phenomenon that can have a huge impact on our behavior. And businesses often use social proof to influence consumers.
When we see that other people are doing something, we assume that it must be the correct behavior. After all, if everyone else is doing it, there must be a good reason.
This logic extends to our purchasing decisions as well. By demonstrating that other people are using and enjoying a product, businesses can encourage more people to give it a try.
Let’s get into it!
- What are the 5 types of social proof?
- Negative Social Proof
- Customer Testimonials
- Reviews and Ratings
- Customer Logos
- Influencer Endorsements
- Video Testimonials
- Money-Back Guarantees
- Earned Media
- Case Studies
- Social Engagement
- User-Generated Content
What are the 5 types of social proof?
Social proof is a well-known way of influencing potential customers. There are several types of such, and we’re going to take a look at five of them:
Customer or user social proof is when prospects see that other people have bought and enjoyed a product or service. This validates the product and makes people more likely to purchase it. Customer social proof can take many forms, from online reviews to celebrity social proof.
An example of customer social proof is online reviews. When customers read positive reviews about a product, they are more likely to trust the company and buy the product. Online reviews provide valuable feedback for companies and can help potential customers make informed decisions.
Influencer social proof is a type of endorsement that occurs when an influencer, or someone with a large following, promotes a product or service. This can be done through a social media post or by simply mentioning the product in a video or podcast.
One example of social proof is the “bandwagon effect,” which occurs when people are more likely to do something simply because everyone else is doing it. For example, you may be more likely to buy a product if you see that it’s popular on social media, even if you don’t really need or want the product.
Certificate social proof is the idea that people are more likely to trust a message if it comes from a credible source. In other words, we are more likely to believe something if we see that other people have already authenticated it.
One example are badges and certificates from trusted sources, for instance a Better Business Bureau accreditation.
Recommendations from our friends are far more likely to convert us into customers than the ones from strangers.
Social media is a great example of how social proof can be used in online marketing. When we see that our friends and followers are talking about a certain brand or product, it helps to build our trust in that company. And when we’re considering making a purchase, seeing those positive social media mentions can be a big factor in our decision-making process.
See also: word-of-mouth marketing.
Crowd social proof is a specific type of social proof that relies on the power of numbers to create a feeling of urgency and popularity.
For example, let’s say you’re considering buying a new pair of shoes from an online store. If you see that the store has sold hundreds of pairs of the same shoes in the past hour, you’re much more likely to buy them than if you saw that only a handful had been sold.
Okay, now you know the types of social proof. And they’re all positive. But what about negative social proof?
They are talking about your company! Start a free trial and find brand mentions that can be used as social proof.
Negative Social Proof
The Arizona Petrified Forest is a well-known tourist attraction that offers visitors the opportunity to see a variety of petrified wood and fossils. In order to combat the destruction of the forest, they decided to run a social proof experiment.
They created two different signs, one that said, “Please don’t remove the petrified wood from the park, in order to preserve the natural state of the Petrified Forest,” and another that said, “Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, changing the natural state of the Petrified Forest.” The former did a better job than the latter, which is a perfect example of negative social proof. Thefts tripled with the second sign because people tried to reflect correct behavior.
Instead of focusing on showing negatives, e.g. a low engagement rate, bad reviews, or using the wrong influencers, expose the positives.
But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: the social proof strategies!
72% of consumers say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business (Big Commerce)
Customers are always the best judges of a company’s products or services. That’s why customer testimonials are an excellent way of gaining social proof. When future users see that other people have had positive experiences with a company, they’re much more likely to do business with that company themselves. Furthermore, customer testimonials can help to build trust and credibility. In an age where there is so much information available online, it can be difficult to know who to trust. Customer testimonials provide a tangible way for companies to show that they’re trustworthy and reliable.
What Basecamp have done here is simple, albeit brilliant. The testimonials are short and straight-to-the-point. They even highlight the problems users had before using Basecamp which only goes to show what issues they can solve.
Reviews and Ratings
92% of customers read online reviews before buying (Big Commerce)
97% of B2B customers cited testimonials and peer recommendations as the most reliable type of content. (Demand Gen Report)
Given the importance of social proof, it’s no surprise that businesses are increasingly focused on collecting reviews and ratings. After all, what could be more persuasive than real customers’ testimonials?
Similarly to Basecamp, Canva opted for simplicity. While these don’t have much flair, they convey the message perfectly. Review stars are only an added bonus which helps to further cement the product’s quality.
Discover reviews about your products. We also monitor App Store and Google Play.
71% of marketers believe that ongoing ambassadorships are the most effective form of influencer marketing.
A brand ambassador is a trusted advocate who encourages others to try your products or services. As a business owner, you want your leads to see that your company is reputable and trustworthy. While there are many ways to build social proof, brand ambassadors can be especially effective.
By carefully choosing individuals who are already respected in your industry, you send a clear message that your business is worth their endorsement. In addition, brand ambassadors can help you to reach a wider target audience by promoting your products or services through their personal networks.
Sephora is a retailer specializing in makeup, skincare, and fragrance products. It was founded in France in 1970, and today it has over 2700 stores around the world.
Their Sephora Squad brand ambassadorship program is one of the leading examples. The partnership lasts at least a year if selected, and Sephora will provide you with “[…] swag, new beauty, and a network of industry experts to help you gain the knowledge you need to take your passion to the next level.”
The end result is this: Sephora gets endorsed by microinfluencers, and these microinfluencers get coaching, event access, free beauty products, more followers, as well as a chance to be featured by a major brand. Everybody is happy.
The digital measurement company comScore determined that well-placed B2B client logos can increase website conversion rates by nearly 70 percent.
When site visitors see that you have worked with other businesses they respect, it builds confidence in your ability to deliver on your promises. Furthermore, customer logos can help to establish your credibility in a particular industry or market. If you can show that you have experience working with businesses in the same field as your prospects, you are more likely to win their business.
Not to be boastful, but, we love the way our designers set us up with these logos. Not only that, the companies themselves are some of the largest industry giants. Who wouldn’t want to be in such a company?
Once again, simplicity is key here. We didn’t go for a thousand logos because it would create unnecessary clutter. Instead, we handpicked our most recognizable clients to make sure that the visitors feel they’re in good hands.
89% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective.
Influencer endorsements are a powerful form of social proof. When an influencer endorses your business, they are effectively vouching for your products or services to their large and engaged audience. This can help to boost your brand awareness and build trust with your audience.
Craig Campbell is one of the most well-known SEO influencers out there.
Find top influencers in your niche. Start a free 14-day trial.
89% of marketers say video testimonials are the most effective content marketing tactic.
Video testimonials are even more compelling compared to text-based ones, since they provide a personal and relatable way for prospective users to see the value of what you’re offering.
Video testimonials can be shared on your website, social media, or even in email marketing campaigns. They’re a great way to show off the positive experiences that your customers have had with your business. And since they’re coming from real people, they carry a lot of weight with potential customers who might be on the fence about trying something new.
Booksy are a startup specializing in beauty salon management. They have a section dedicated just to video testimonials, each one signed with the name of the business that uses their app. The same testimonials also appear on their YouTube channel, as well as on other social media.
These videos are only about a minute long, which makes them perfect for the current short video trend. Concise and to the point, they convey the message beautifully, and resonate with the audience because there are some real businesses behind the videos. It’s the centerpiece of the landing page, too, and rightfully so.
A whopping 48% of respondents said that trust badges reassure them that the site is secure and trustworthy. The same survey found that 76% of respondents said trust seals affected their sense of trust in a website.
A badge is a digital symbol that can be added to a website or online profile to show that the person or business has met certain standards. Badges are a great way of gaining social proof for your business because they show that you are an expert in your field, have been vetted by a credible source, and are trusted by other users.
Badges can also help to increase click-through and conversion rates, as they add an element of social proof that can encourage users to take action. In addition, badges can help to build brand awareness and trust, as they provide a visual way for users to identify your business as a reliable and trustworthy source.
Example: Mailchimp, ClickUp
When looking for social proof, showing off is good. And Mailchimp do have something worthy of display, which is multiple customer service awards. It sits both on their homepage as well as their “Why Mailchimp” page.
ClickUp did something similar, except with G2 awards, which can be even more meaningful at times:
Conversion Fanatics tried implementing a money-back guarantee. The result was an increase in conversions by 26%.
There’s nothing quite like a money-back guarantee to build confidence in your product or service. When site visitors see that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is, they’re much more likely to take the plunge themselves. And once they’ve experienced the benefits of what you have to offer, they’re likely to become lifelong fans.
Quite uncommon for the SaaS industry, Surfer, instead of a free trial, opted for a 7-day money-back guarantee. And so far, it treats them well! Even though they may not have as many sign-ups, they have far more customers who are more decided.
Earned media refers to the coverage that a business receives from third-party sources. This can include things like news articles, press mentions, blog posts, or even social media posts. Unlike paid media (such as advertising), earned media is free – making it an attractive option for businesses on a tight budget.
Too many times have I wandered on a website, looked at the beautiful logos displayed in the middle of the homepage, only to be disappointed when I found out they weren’t clickable.
Well, not in this case. Each of them contains a review of the tool, which is a welcome surprise.
Customer case studies can boost your deal closing ratio by 70 percent and your sales by 185 percent!
A case study is an in-depth analysis of a real-life situation or event, performed in order to understand what caused it and how it can be prevented or repeated. Case studies are a great way of gaining social proof for your business. By sharing stories of how your products or services have helped solve problems for your existing customers, you can show potential new customers that you’re the right company for them. What’s more, case studies add credibility to your claims by providing third-party validation.
Example: Omniscient x AppSumo
Here’s what you can see when you enter the page:
Convincing enough? If not, right below the fold is a testimony from the head of content:
Further down is the usual case study stuff – numbers, techniques, challenges, and goals. Simple, true, but how effective!
There’s no denying that numbers and statistics can be dry and boring. But when it comes to social proof, they can be incredibly effective. After all, seeing is believing. When you show your prospects hard numbers like how many customers you have or the results they got, they can’t help but be impressed. It’s a great way to showcase the success of your business and demonstrate that you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Right on the homepage, Salesforce put a testimonial with a beautiful statistic. Who wouldn’t want to buy it?
Everyone loves a good story. And when it comes to business, stories are a great way to gain social proof and make otherwise boring statistics more compelling.
They allow people to see your business in a new light and understand the impact it has on the world. In addition, stories can be used to communicate complex concepts in a simple and easy-to-understand way.
These guys hit the nail right on the head. Instead of filling their successful case studies with numbers, they made them narrative-driven. Simply put, each case study is a story. And a story reads far better than jargon-packed articles.
When you show that your company is active on social media, participating in conversations, and sharing valuable content, you send a powerful message that you’re a business worth doing business with. In today’s information-packed world, social engagement is a key way to stand out from the competition and make your company’s name synonymous with quality and trustworthiness.
Even as much as putting your social media profiles in the footer can show that you’re both reachable via a number of means as well as engaged with users.
There’s no doubt that social media has changed the way we do business. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have given businesses a whole new way to reach out to potential customers. And one of the most effective ways to use social media is to display user-generated content. User-generated content is any kind of content that features customers using your product or service. It could be a picture, a review, or even just a simple testimonial.
Brand24 is one of the top social listening tools. Try the free trial today and start monitoring social media.
By integrating with other businesses, you can show customers that you’re credible and have the endorsement of others. This can be especially useful if you’re a new business, as it can help to build trust with potential customers. Integrations also provide opportunities for cross-promotion, which can help to increase your visibility and reach. In addition, by partnering with other businesses, you can tap into their customer base and expand your own.
Here, integrations are a core section of the landing page. Since EngageBay has integrations with so many well-known tools, then perhaps they’re worth it. That’s where the social proof lies.
One of the best ways to gain social proof is to show off your milestones. This could include anything from the number of satisfied customers you’ve served to the awards you’ve won. Sharing this information helps potential customers see that you’re a company worth doing business with.
Trello have dedicated an entire blog post towards their 50 million user milestone. They’ve also mentioned what the future will look like and announced some new features right off the bat.
Of course, Trello didn’t forget about a thank-you note at the end: