Building credibility and trust is crucial to standing out in the market where brands today are in a cut-throat battle to take the lead in their industry. Social proof is a powerful tool that you can leverage to build and enhance your brand reputation, instill trust in prospective clients, and fuel business growth in this hyper-competitive environment.
Below is your guide to better understanding social proof and its importance, including effective strategies to help you harness its power.
Understanding social proof
The term “social proof” was coined by author Robert Cialdini in his book titled “Influence” in 1984. The underlying theory behind this phenomenon, which is also known as informational social influence, is that people replicate the behaviors of others in an effort to model their own conduct in specific scenarios.
When it comes to e-commerce, prospective buyers consider making a purchase based on reviews or references from previous buyers. As a result, if one person does a certain thing, others will adjust their behavior to imitate the one who did it first.
What is social proof?
It is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to pay close attention to what others are saying or doing to make a decision or form an opinion. It appeals to the fundamental need to belong and form connections with others as social beings. This explains why people are more likely to purchase a product with a high rating or join a crowd in a strange place.
Why it matters?
Social proof plays an important role in drawing in new customers, particularly with regard to online marketing. It can be seen in a variety of forms, including testimonials, influencer marketing, case studies, reviews etc.
Where marketing is concerned, social proof can influence others to buy your product or interact with you and the brand as a whole. For instance, people may consider a business more legitimate if its social media following is substantial with an active and engaging audience, or prior to buying a product, people read reviews posted by users online.
According to 2023 Software Buying Trends, before making any purchase decisions, 86% of businesses consider verified reviews critical, and that is why online reviews are considered to be a powerful form of social proof.
How can small businesses leverage social proof?
Incorporating social proof will help your small business strengthen brand credibility and intrigue potential clientele to make a purchase.
Among the many different forms of social proof, listed below are five ways in which you can turn it to your advantage with practical applications.
Reviews and testimonials are some of the simplest and most powerful social proof strategies that influence buyer decisions to a large extent. Brands that display customer testimonials have higher conversion rates. In fact, according to Business2Community, about 82% of consumers in the U.S. seek out the opinions of their friends and family members before buying products.
While recommendations from friends and peers will increase a customer’s likelihood of purchasing your product, ratings from strangers are also incredibly influential.
On e-commerce websites like Amazon and eBay, you may find a fantastic illustration of this approach. Any item that you browse has both image and text reviews, a star rating and reviews of comparable items.
Potential customers can see whether buyers were pleased or dissatisfied with their purchase based on these images and text reviews as well as star ratings. Besides, they may rest easy knowing they have secured the best bargain after browsing the comparison chart.
Likewise, encourage happy consumers to share their success stories on your social media pages, website and other sales pages. When you use genuine and precise testimonials, potential customers are more likely to relate to them, which in turn increases brand trust and credibility.
Collaborate with influencers
You can’t disregard the influencer’s potency while considering the social proof. Influencers hold significant control over human behavior in social marketing. This form of social influence boosts your social proof and creates value for your brand while also promoting your offerings to a wider audience base.
Influencers like celebrities and known personalities typically have a good number of followers or subscribers to their social media channels. Whereas microinfluencers might not have a huge number of followers but can have an immense influence in a niche area on social media sites.
People develop relationships with these influencers and like to keep a tab on what they do, follow, or like. Once they find the ground of relatability, the opinions and choices of influencers are worth considerably more than those of strangers.
So, try to find the right set of influencers who are relevant to your audience, and collaborate with them to develop focused campaigns. For some brands, it could be a single project to start with, and for others a long-term partnership.
Also known as UGC, it is the content produced by your customers that is purely organic. Unlike typical sponsored advertising or influencer marketing campaigns, UGC has a greater probability of being perceived as authentic by consumers. This material is an important sales engine because of its legitimacy and can be leveraged in many ways.
Gartner states, “when surveying customers about the type of content they prefer to see from brands on social media, 43% expressed interest in content generated by individuals who use the brand. This includes reviews, demos, unboxing, tutorials, and Q&As.”
Start with offering rewards or incentives to motivate your clients to produce UGC and make sure that the content produced holds relevance and is suitable for your brand. You can use this form of social proof to gain solid insights about what connects people to your brand.
Add case studies
Consider case studies as a thoroughly researched customer assessment or review of your brand. A successful case study should be applicable to a subset of the audience you are targeting, through which you can show how your offerings resolve a business issue and emphasize outstanding outcomes.
You can repurpose the case studies later. Use up certain quotes from it in the form of graphics and carousels in social media posts, or even create reels, shorts and YouTube videos.
Market your brand recognition and industry awards
Brand recognition and industry awards serve as validations from an external body of your achievements and expert knowledge. Submit applications for awards from the relevant industries and highlight the list of honors you get. These accomplishments strengthen your reputation in the market and set you apart from your rivals.
When marketing these awards, share the brand narrative and anecdotes about each honor and recognition, the selection process, the passion and hard work that goes behind it, and how much it impacts you, your brand, and your clients. You can include the award badges on your website, social media platforms and marketing collateral.
Want more? Escalon has helped over 5,000 small businesses across a range of industries to optimize routine business functions, like taxes, bookkeeping, accounting, insurance, payroll and HR. Talk to an expert today. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. Escalon and its affiliates are not providing tax, legal or accounting advice in this article. If you would like to engage with Escalon, please contact us here.