social proof

Whether or not you realize it, social proof is an essential aspect of our everyday lives… And even more so in the online universe. Yet, despite it being a tried and tested method to boost sales and brand awareness, so many companies underutilize social proof in their social media marketing.

What is social proof? 

The simplest way to explain social proof is with a very popular example… The restaurant experiment:

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, are you going to choose the empty restaurant that doesn’t look like it’s seen a customer in weeks, or will you choose the busy eatery full of happy diners?

If you picked the busy restaurant, you used social proof!

In other words… Social proof is the theory that people follow the lead of others when making decisions.

Learning how to use social proof effectively can not only dramatically increase sales and click-through rates, but it can also work to enhance your brand image and awareness and help show your customers that you value their feedback.

How do you use social proof on social media?

Implementing social proof as part of your social media strategy might sound complicated, but chances are you’re probably already using it in some form.

To illustrate, here are three straightforward ways you can make sure your social media campaigns incorporate social proof:  

1. Experts

The first form looks at the idea that people “follow the leader” when decision making. 

This could be as simple as a “dentist recommended toothpaste” or sleep experts raving about the mattress they just tried. 

Any stamp of approval from an authority figure can demonstrate expert social proof: the idea that someone who knows what they’re talking about values your products or services.

On social media, you could simply post images featuring the expert approval or graphics that show how brilliant your brand is, or you could take it further by including experts in discussions with your customers.

One excellent way to get experts involved is to go Live on Facebook or Instagram. Host a live interview with an expert and invite your followers to leave questions they can answer. Posts featuring educational content are always popular on social media, too.

If your products or services have been reviewed or mentioned in a leading publication, you should also not be shy to share these accolades with your followers. Share articles you’re featured in and include the logos of the most well-known publications on your profile, so people know you’re the real deal. It’s not boastful; it’s business. 

2. Influencers

Influencer marketing might be getting a bit of a bad rap at the moment, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling to potential customers.

Utilizing brand ambassadors and sharing images of high-profile individuals using your products/services are highly effective strategies that enable you to demonstrate social proof with minimum effort.

Influencer marketing can be particularly beneficial for start-up businesses that might not have many clients yet to post reviews and help you demonstrate social proof. By getting a handful of influencers to share your brand’s pros, you can reach larger audiences and more potential customers.

Always repost (positive) mentions of your brand on social media to show your followers what other people think. If the post comes from a well-known individual, you could quickly see considerable boosts to your customer base. 

Grilling thermometer manufacturers, iGrill, experienced this for themselves after a Facebook post from Mark Zuckerberg brought 1,000 visitors and potential customers to their site every minute, crashing the website and increasing brand awareness “a million-fold”!

3. Users

While influencers are excellent at boosting your brand awareness, user social proof is also highly effective. In fact, 91% of 18-34-year-olds said they trust user reviews as much as a recommendation from someone close to them. 

Even if it sounds daunting to take product reviews off Yelp and onto your Twitter feed, doing this is highly effective at converting customers, as they can effortlessly see that other people are already enjoying your products.

Another way to showcase positive user reviews without just reposting is to share user-generated content. For example, Starbucks’ Instagram account commonly takes the best photos from their real-life customers to use on their own feed. 

You can even spot some Twitter posts from customers on Starbucks’ Instagram, showing how you can mix-and-match your social media to provide a social proof boost across sites. 

4. Followers, Likes, and Comments

One of the most basic types of social proof is how many people like or use your services. The number of followers you have is an easy way to demonstrate that your brand is popular, and therefore good.

Utilizing social proof in your social media strategies will help you grow your follower base, giving you even more points! 

Although we don’t recommend you base your entire strategy on followers or likes. Social proof is more than a numbers game. 

Why do you need social proof?

If you’re ready to start implementing social proof in your social media marketing strategy and do it well, then it’s worth understanding why social proof is important. 

1. It verifies your claims

Using social proof can prove to potential new buyers that what you’re saying is true and helps build trustworthiness, as people trust the word of reviewers far more than that of a seller trying to get them to buy a product! 

Nearly 70% of online customers always look at a product review before making a purchase, and 70% of Americans seek out reviews from independent sources before buying online.

You can make this even easier for your customers by proudly showcasing reviews and testimonials on your social media. Share feedback in posts, Stories, or re-Tweets and let your customers speak for you. Data shows that customer reviews can increase ecommerce conversions rates by as much as 270%!

2. It taps into our herd mentality

Social proof is, fundamentally, all about herd mentality.

As a species, humans are conditioned to imitate the behavior of others. Therefore, by demonstrating social proof on your social media sites, you’ll attract more potential customers as they follow the wisdom of the crowds.

Whether this is a need to fit in (like the Solomon Asch conformity experiment demonstrated) or simply that we believe the crowd has knowledge we’re lacking, ensuring your social media campaign features social proof will attract more customers. 

3. People pay attention to it

The third and final reason you should use social proof in your media marketing is because it works.

In fact, 63% of consumers state they’re more likely to purchase from a website that features product ratings and reviews, even if they aren’t all 5-star raves. 

By encouraging your users to engage with your brand by leaving reviews, completing surveys, taking part in promotions or any other sharable activity and then sharing it yourself, you’ll be demonstrating an active awareness of what makes your customers tick. And people notice that.

Kristina Žiaukė is a content manager at sixads. Want to know more ways to increase traffic and attract buyers to your online store? Connect with sixads on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube!

Social stock photo by iQoncept/Shutterstock