Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon that leads people to mimic the actions of others because of an inherent need to conform. This means that people will look to those around them when deciding on whether to use your product or service.
About Social Proof
Social proof is already impacting your business practices. If people are looking at Yelp reviews of your company, they’re want to find proof that your business can deliver a better service than the competition. Your goal as a marketer should be to increase the amount of social proof for your company and to take control of it so that you can build your business’ reputation strategically. Leveraging social proof effectively means incorporating your customers, followers, and peers in the business world to advocate for your company.
To take control of it, you should understand how the mechanism of social proof works. First, a customer is in a position of uncertainty—they don’t know which product or service will fulfill their need. So, they’ll look to people who are in a similar position, whether that be through an online search, their peers, or an expert in the field. Then, they’ll roughly weigh the opinions of these people quantitatively, and most likely follow the most popular example.
How To Use Social Proof
There’s no single way to cultivate social proof. It’s not a specific goal or a strategy—rather, it’s a principle, or a way of thinking, that can lead to the implementation of marketing strategies to improve your reputation across the board.
In general, you’ll want to work within the infrastructure that has already been developed by consumers. Customers are going to review your company on sites such as Yelp and Glassdoor. They’re also going to discuss your product more informally on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. What you can do is re-platform the positive customer testimonials by sharing them on your website, on social media, or on a separate company blog that you use exclusively to build social proof. You can also incentivize customers to share positive feedback with small rewards like gift cards and discounts.
A more involved way to build social proof is to reach out to notable people who are either already using your product or might benefit from it, and invite them to collaborate—also known as influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is a tried-and-true strategy for creating social proof for your brand. Influencer marketing is not a one-way street. You can provide products for your chosen influencer to advertise, but you can also bring them to film a guest video at your facilities, or invite them to do an Instagram takeover on your official account. In many cases, social proof comes from onboarding people who are already inherently acting as brand ambassadors—all you’re doing is formalizing the relationship in a mutually-beneficial way. Content marketing is also a great way to build social proof. By positioning yourself as an authority on a topic, offering audiences useful knowledge, you’ll be seen as more legitimate in the eyes of your customers.
Social proof is a hugely important concept for marketers. Your goal as a whole is to instill the use of your product or service as a socially-condoned action or “the right choice.” By focusing on leveraging social proof towards your benefit, you’re able to motivate purchases, build a more legitimate brand, and justify the price of your product in the realm of popular opinion.