When digging deeper into the idea of “social proof,” just remember that humans are definitely pack animals.
Psychologically speaking, humans want to fit in with the rest of the crowd, and this can affect us in many ways, particularly our consumer behavior.
Social proof refers to potential customers assuming that what others are doing is correct based on how often they see those actions. In other words, social proof is about looking to others to figure out the right way to interact in any given situation.
Businesses can leverage positive social proof to influence consumer behavior and generate more sales.
About 91 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds trust online social proof reviews as much as recommendations from someone close to them, while 63 percent of consumers indicated they are more likely to purchase from a website with product ratings and reviews.
Of course, social proof is even more powerful when it comes from someone the potential customer knows. About 82 percent of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase.
The following are nine ways you can use social proof across your digital marketing channels to persuade potential customers and grow your sales.
Highlighting positive reviews
Online reviews might be the first thing you think of when it comes to social proof. You’re definitely not wrong.
Consider Yelp. Are you more likely to try the restaurant with a lot of five-star reviews or the one with none? About 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and consumers often check at least two or three review sites before making a decision about a business.
Be the business they want to try, not the one they want to avoid.
You can do this by paying attention to more than just one review site. In other words, if you’re only focused on Yelp, you’re missing key opportunities. Google, FourSquare, even Facebook are all platforms where reviews can be made and viewed publicly about your business.
Then, highlight any relevant five-star reviews on your website, landing page or even some social media posts, depending. The more you share, the better! Don’t be shy.
To help boost your share of positive reviews, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for a review on their favorite site. This can be done with follow-up emails, signs posted in your business or even links shared on your social media. Keep your ask simple: “Support our small business by sharing your experience with us on Yelp” or whatever review site, for example.
Engaging with negative reviews
Granted, we can’t assume that all reviews will be positive. When encountering a negative review, read it thoroughly and respond. Yes, respond. Do not ignore. Acknowledge the issues or problem your reviewer encountered with your business (no matter how relevant or not). And offer a solution to his or her problem. This can be a gift card, discount or other incentive to come back and give you another shot. And this offer does not have to be worked out in a public back-and-forth. At the right time, you can say that you’ll message them directly to further resolve the problem. But it’s the initial engagement publicly that can help save a negative review from completely preventing a potential customer from considering your business.
The better you engage with the negative review, the better you will look in the eyes of others. In fact, about 89 percent of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews in general.
Make sure you know about these eight types of negative SEO while you’re at it.
Sharing customer testimonials
It’s one thing for you to say that your brand is the best. It’s something entirely different when people outside of your brand say that you’re the best.
About 92 percent of consumers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising.
Testimonials are positive experiences and/or anecdotes from customers who have used your product or service. They help establish credibility for your brand.
Be sure to regularly solicit happy customers for testimonials that you can update your website with and/or share in social media posts. Encourage them to be specific about the product or service they used, the problem it helped them solve and even how they felt before they came to you and after.
You can make the process even easier by including a Google Form (or another embedded form on your website).
Partnering with celebrities, influencers
Influencer marketing has only been growing in recent years, and it’s easy to see why, especially when considering social proof. Consumers clearly trust public opinion more than brands themselves, so the word of people with influence falls into that category as well.
In fact, content from influencers generates more than 8 times the engagement rate of content shared directly by brands.
The key is that you identify an influencer who is relevant to your industry and jives with your brand.
Dig into these seven tips you should know before starting your first influencer marketing campaign.
Onboarding brand ambassadors
Similar to influencers, you can recruit brand ambassadors, which are essentially brand evangelists and loyalists who will promote your brand to their networks. Brand ambassadors can range between average people who love your company to micro-influencers with some clout online.
This type of program can be managed in a range of ways, where you can offer anything from commission to discounts to branded swag.
The appeal here is that brand ambassadors can humanize your brand even further. Just remember that brand ambassadors can be an easy avenue of getting more user-generated content (UGC) that features or includes your product out on various online channels. UGC can definitely play into social proof by piquing the interest of the potential customers it reaches.
Growing your social media following
First things first, we don’t want you to fall into a rabbit hole of obsession with growing your followers on social media. It’s just not the ultimate measure of success that some brands think it is.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the size of your following can be a type of social proof. It’s that herd mentality again. When a consumer sees a large number of people doing (or following) something, they’re more likely to try it, too.
Resist the temptation to buy a ton of fake followers. This practice will never serve you in the long run. Social media success thrives on authenticity, and creating the illusion of social proof is exactly the opposite. Focus, instead, on sharing engaging content and building a genuine social media following.
Leveraging your customer count
If you have an established customer base, it’s worth considering leveraging those numbers as social proof. Whether it’s customers, subscribers or any other type of consumer who is using your product or service, sharing that will help show that your brand is valuable and trusted.
Think about how McDonald’s says “Over 9 billion served” on its signs. But this can be done on your website and/or social media profiles as well.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to simply boast about your numbers. Make it an invitation: “Join our 500,000 satisfied customers,” for example. It gives a feeling of belonging to consumers.
A slightly different angle on this front is leveraging any of the big-name customers you might have. You can do this by highlighting their logos on your website. Just make sure that you’re highlighting the brands that your audience will recognize.
Showcasing any awards, recognition
Awards and recognition aren’t just great types of social proof, they also act as evidence that your brand is, in fact, trustworthy. There’s a validation there because they come from a third party.
Beyond just listing awards your brand has won, you can use award logos embedded on your website and even feature the logos of websites your brand has been mentioned on.
Again, it lends to your credibility.
Creating a blog
Before you think, “Not another blog,” remember that blogs are a great way to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
The idea is to offer potential customers with insightful, problem-solving and actionable content. Tying this content into your products or services is great, but keep that approach in balance.
Showcasing your value to your audience is more important than getting yet another sales plug in. In the end, you’re ultimately creating and sharing content to build up your trustworthiness in the eyes of potential customers. It’s less about the hard sale.
Be aware of social shares
Adding social media share buttons next to various content on your website can sound like a great type of social proof. And it can be.
But if your social shares are typically low, this can actually backfire on you.
Website visitors seeing only a handful of shares can give them the impression that your content isn’t very valuable.
So, before using this approach, do an audit on your average amount of social shares. If it’s typically a high number, then the social share buttons are worth including to boost your social proof.
While you’re boosting your social proof, consider improving your digital marketing process with DailyStory. Features include automation and dynamic audience segmentation. Schedule your free demo with us today.