According to Wikipedia “Social Proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation”. This term was described by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. So often in situations where we are uncertain about what to do, we assume that the people around us (experts, celebrities, friends, etc.) have more knowledge about what’s going on and what should be done.
Types of Social Proof
Let us now understand the types of Social Proof
- Expert : When an expert in your Industry recommends your products & services or talks about it in favour or is associated with your brand.
- Celebrity : Celebrity Social Proof is when a celebrity endorses your product/service.
- User : When a user shares his experiences about using your product or service & recommends it.
- Wisdom of the crowd : When a large no people share positive reviews for your product/service.
- Certification : When an organisation or authority in your Industry gives you approval or certifies you .
Social Proof : The Concept Behind
We as a person are always looking for social acceptance. Whichever part of the globe we are at, whichever age group we look at, whichever profession we are into, whichever Industry we see, everybody wants social acceptance. Like school students want social acceptance from their peer group, their parents, their teachers. If their views & actions are not accepted, it creates havoc in their lives. Likewise, employed people expect social acceptance from their bosses, colleagues, friends, etc. They work hard to impress their bosses at work & engage in discussions with colleagues & look for ways to get their opinions accepted. Everybody has the desire to fit in with the crowd.
Likewise our purchasing decisions are also influenced by others. And if we are convinced with a purchase we would want others to react the same way. It works both ways. In today’s world, we have a plethora of options available when we want to purchase anything. For example: You want to do a course on Digital Marketing. You would follow certain steps to select the best option available. One being going through the reviews on Google Business & other websites.
We have understood the concept of Social Proof in our daily lives. Now we have to look at it from a Marketer’s point of view.
In a world where there is so much competition & customer is the king, we have to make the customer sing our tune i.e. we have to Social Proof ourselves. Entrepreneurs, brands have now realised the importance of Social Proofing & they are using various tactics to influence buyer behaviour through positive Social Proof. Now, the question arises “How we can use Social Proof as a medium to grow our Sales/Brand?”
Ways to Use Social Proof
Following are some of the ways you can use to positively influence the purchasing behaviour of potential customers. For the ease of understanding, I have categorised all the ways according to the type they belong to.
Happy Customer Reviews
This is the most important way of Social Proof. It will indicate to a potential customer, your service quality & business legitimacy. It will indicate that the customer is satisfied with the product/service, the quality of product/service, your pricing, customer service, & all the other factors that influences a potential customer. Customer reviews are a simple solution for an entrepreneur looking to build his brand & can generate long term benefits to him. Various platforms & tools can be used to solve this purpose.
- Customer Testimonials on Website : Have a dedicated section on your website to talk about Customer Reviews. Ask your existing customers to write a positive review for you which can be displayed on the website. Include all the details of the customers like their name, the company, their designation in the company, etc. It will add on to the authenticity of the review.
- Social Review Websites : There are some websites dedicated to the reviews of products/services. Positive rapport can be built using those sites.
- Sharing Customer Reviews on Social media: Receiving shout-outs on Social Media from your customers can be one of the best things for Social Proofing. Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter for receiving positive feedback & share it on your profile wherever you can.
- Use of Integrated Tools for feedback : Tools like Slack can be used to integrate user reviews on Social Media platforms to a landing page on your website.
- Collaborating with experts on Social Media : Experts have the power to influence your audience. When an established person in an Industry speaks about your product/service, it leaves a positive mark on your audience which can be used to grow your brand’s reach, increase your business’s Social Proof, and ultimately help you to generate more sales. In exchange they also get to reach your audience. For eg. Tagging on Facebook post, Instagram stories, Video Posts, etc.
- Collaborating with experts for a Live Event : Another way to collaborate with experts is to invite them to any of your live event like Facebook Live, Twitter Chat, Webinar, etc in which your audience can get a chance to interact with them directly & thus being influenced by them positively. And again in exchange, the experts have the benefit of reaching your audience.
- Celebrity Endorsements : It happens when any famous personality belonging to Entertainment Industry or Sports endorses your product/service, & includes it in his/her Social Media Posts. Usually these celebrities have huge no of fans which can hugely impact your Brand building.
- Brand Ambassadors : Brand Ambassadors are the people who would explicitly endorse your product. They could be Industry experts, Celebrities, or passionate users of your product/service. They mention it in their Bio on Social Media Profile Page & include the Branded hashtag on relevant Social Media posts. Some companies host the Ambassador programs & provide training to these ambassadors.
- Influencer Marketing : Influencers are the people on Social Media who have the power to influence their audience in their nische. They generate the “following” by developing Content in their particular nische. For eg. A beautician doing makeup tutorials on Youtube, an online teacher providing Digital Marketing training.They don’t usually work for just one product or company but produce content according to the endorsements they get.
General views of peopleSocial Media Mentions : Customers who love your products/services like to talk about them online. They will mention that in their Social Media posts & talk about the product/service. Always respond to them with a thankful message & address them personally. This will make them feel that you have taken out time for them & thanked them on a personal note. Often you are faced with negative reviews too on Social Media. It is important to engage with such customers & try to resolve their issues. Try to provide alternate solution if the damage has been done. Make them feel that you are looking into the matter genuinely. Apologise if you need to & in some cases companies do go out of their way to impress such customers. This leaves a positive image of the company on a prospective customer’s mind too.
- Blogging : Another great tactic for gaining Social Proof for your brand is to establish yourself as a thought leader in the niche specific to your business. You can create blogs for your brand & opt for Content marketing. People who are interested in your blogs will become your followers & would want to read your views on Industry insights. This will help draw more traffic to your website & hence can generate more sales.
- Social Media sharing options on Blog : It is important to include the Social Media share buttons on the blog so that if a customer likes your content, has the option of sharing on any of the platforms he wants. This will increase your customer base.
- Sharing the blog or regular updates on Social Media : Nowadays it is essential for any business to maintain a Social Media Page & update it regularly with Short posts, Industry news, Wishes, Blogs, Videos etc to engage audience. Regular updates will ensure more discussions on your page. You can also create audience engagement posts like Poll, Views, Quiz etc. When a prospective customer comes across your Social Media Handle, he will have an impression that a lot is happening on your page & you are engaged with your audience which will leave a positive impact.
- Optimise the Social Media features : There are some features specific to each Social Media platform which can contribute to Social Proof like :
- Rating – Customer Ratings on Facebook. Good ratings are a great form of Social Proof
- Facebook has launched a local search feature where you can find local businesses with the best Facebook reviews and ratings. Having a good Facebook Page rating will help you rank higher in the search results.
- No. of followers – No of followers on different Social Media handles are one of the deciding factors for the prospects to follow you on Social Media.
- Sharing milestones – It refers to celebrating for reaching a particular no of followers or views & thanking the customers/audience to achieve that.
- Responsiveness : You can choose to state how much you are responsive on messenger on Facebook. On twitter you can set the time you are most active.
- Social Share Count : The number of times an article or a blog is shared is a good method of Social Proof. The content with a higher count is likely to be shared further. Lesser count can have a negative effect even if the content is very well written. However, using some tools this share count can be hidden.
- Get Verified – There is an option of getting verified on Social Media i.e. a blue checkmark which indicates that your brand is popular & trustworthy. You need to follow some steps to attain that status. Apart from gaining credibility and respect from the community, you would also gain access to new features reserved for verified accounts or Pages only.
15. Using Social Proof in Paid Ads : Paid ads is a great way to reach the Targeted Audience. Using the expert views, celebrity views, user reviews on these ads can help to increase the reach as more people would be influenced by this.
These are some of the ways for Social Proofing but as the technology advances & new features keep coming up on the Social Media Platforms & tools, ways to reach the audience through Social Proofing will keep on increasing. Considering all these methods while building a Brand will get you results in no time.