It’s a Friday night, you and a friend want to go out to a dance club. You are walking around and come across ten different dance clubs. Eight of those clubs have people in it, and the other two are completely empty; it is almost second nature to choose the ones people are already enjoying. This has to do with a psychological phenomenon called social proof.
What Is Social Proof?
Social proof is the idea that people will follow the actions of the masses, that if you see large groups of people doing one thing, you will be inclined to do so as well. The idea is that if you are seeing so many other people behaving a certain way, that it must be the correct behaviour. In the example above, you are more tempted to enter the dance clubs that have people in it, because you assume the empty clubs are not as good. If those clubs were as good as the others, they would have people in them, right?
That is social proof. Even if the other clubs are the better choice and offer a better experience, it must be the be correct choice since there are more people are in those clubs. Social proof isn’t a new idea. There have been several studies around this topic. These studies show that people are more likely to conform to the group decision. One example is the Solomon Asch – Conformity Experiment.
Why Social Proof Marketing Is Important
The dance club example is an effective offline way to show how social proof works. But, it is even more important in digital marketing. When you are in an offline setting, you are more than likely to compare different products with a hands-on analysis. You are able to see the quality of the two items and compare them against one another. Whereas in a digital world, things are a bit more difficult. You need to leverage outside opinions to make your final decision as you can not try the products on/out and cannot have hands-on experiences.
Typically, before you buy that product online, you are reading reviews to see what previous consumers of that product are saying. You look for their experience with the product, what the quality was like, maybe how it fits (for clothing), or how it performed. Even if you had your heart set on a product, a review could sway your final decision as this individual has more experience with the product than you do.
Imagine if the store you are shopping at displayed reviews of their products above the display for these products. This would probably cause you to shop a bit differently than you do now. Well, it would seem that the digital world has beaten the brick and mortar stores to the punch. Over 60% of shoppers say they read customer reviews on a product or service instead of talking to a sales associate.
How To Use Social Proof Marketing
There are seemingly endless ways that one can use social proof marketing to help grow their marketing efforts. They typically revolve around showing your site visitors what other people like that you are offering. This shows them that there is no reason why they would not enjoy the product/service if all of these other people enjoyed it.
Some common applications of social proof are:
- Positive reviews
- Customer testimonials
- Influencer or celebrity endorsements
- Growing your social media following
- Number of users or customers
- Awards and recognition
- Social shares
- Live tracking of sales/demo sign-ups
- What specific companies are doing on your site
- Sharing web analytics
These are just some of the more popular uses of social proof. There are other ways you can leverage social proof that may be more specific to your industry.
When To Use Social Proof
Social proof is even more powerful when it comes to someone your visitor knows. This can be a review or recommendation of someone you know (family member, friend, colleague, etc.) or a competing company. If you are visiting a site looking for a product or service to further help your business, then see a notification appear on the site saying that “X” company just scheduled a demo or signed up, you may rethink how fast you pull the trigger. In order to continue competing with your competition, you may decide to schedule a demo or sign up faster than normal as your competition beat you to this decision.
Have you ever wondered why social media apps, like Instagram, will show you which of your friends liked a specific photo? It’s because of social proof. They know that if your friends liked a photo, you are more likely to as well.
If you are not currently using social proof marketing to your advantage, your landing pages, social posts, product pages, and blog content may not be converting as well as they could be.
How To Decide What Method Works Best?
Every business is going to be different and has different goals on what they are trying to achieve. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all method in this industry. Deciding on what method(s) works best for you and your team depends on what goal you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to drive more sign-ups? Get more demos scheduled? Generate more traffic on your blog? All of these goals have a different use case and a different way to approach them.
If you are trying to drive more traffic to your blog posts, you could create a notification displaying how many people have enjoyed another blog post that is similar to the one that the reader is currently on.
Or, if you are trying to drive more sign-ups, you could display that someone from your area has just signed up.
Or, if you want to generate more reviews, you can display who has recently left your company another review. This will not only help you generate more reviews, but it will also help you convert more sales.
There are countless ways you can use this information to trigger your visitor’s FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and have them make a decision faster than they normally would. With the amount of data you can collect and verify, you can use this to your advantage and share it with your visitors to further grow your business.
Now comes the fun part, deciding who you should go to to help you with your social proof marketing. Thankfully, dozens of companies out there can help you build a great-looking social proof notification and keep the theme of your site consistent with customizations to the notification. Ensure that you know what type of notification you are planning to use and what type of metrics you wish to be displayed on this notification. This will help you discover what social proof company you want to go with to help you. Most companies offer free trials and it may take some testing to discover which of these companies are best for you based on these trials. Thankfully, they are extremely easy to set up and implement, making multiple trials and testing an easy chore.
Social proof marketing can be a very powerful tool if done right; ensure you are picking the right company that will help you leverage your data to help you reach your goal. We look forward to seeing your new social proof marketing in action!