Are you looking to boost your marketing strategy?
It’s human nature to trust our peers rather than a faceless company. But that doesn’t mean your marketing efforts are in vain. Social proof allows you to leverage happy customers to boost your brand.
Don’t just take our word for it! Read on for what social proof actually is and 13 examples of social proof in action.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is the notion we trust other people more than we do businesses. For example, let’s say if you need a landscaper. You’re more likely to take a recommendation from a friend rather than believe the hype on some website.
It’s always been around in some form — or at least for as long as civilization has been around. Think of it, two sailors recommending an inn to stay at in a faraway port. Or a Lord recommending a gentleman’s holiday in Europe to a friend.
In the 21st century, with all its internet access, social proof has a larger platform. It’s bigger than it’s ever been, and now has a global reach rather than a local one. You’ll have already seen it when you look at the reviews before you’ve bought a product/service.
Social proof is so effective because it fosters two things — authority and trust. People want to know they’re in good, reliable hands with people who care about their needs.
Types of Social Proof
There are, in general, 6 types of social proof. These are:
- Expert: This is when an industry expert recommends your service/product. Or they might have an association with your brand. For example, a shout out on Twitter after having an expert in for a Twitter chat session.
- Celebrity: This is when a celebrity recommends your services/products. For example, an influencer or celebrity using your products on YouTube.
- User: User-based social proof is where current users recommend you. It’s based on their experiences with you and usually done via social media. Or through positive reviews and ratings.
- Wisdom of the Crowd: This is where a large group of people is endorsing your brand in a public setting. Examples are having thousands of followers on your social media platforms.
- Wisdom of Your Friends: People see their friends endorsing a product. For example, you see your friend using a brand or you see them engaging on social media.
- Certification: This is where you’re certified from an industry-leading authority. Think of the blue checks on Facebook and Twitter. You’re official baby!
Now you know what social proof is, let’s see it in action. Here are 13 examples of social proof working in the real world.
Netflix is a company that’s using social proof in new and exciting ways. Their suggestion feeds are primarily made up of shows and movies that are “trending now”. The very fact these shows are the most popular with users is usually enough to draw people in to watch them.
It’s FOMO. People want to see what all the fuss is about in case they’re missing out on something big. If people think they’re missing out on something good, it can cause actual social anxiety. The larger the crowd of people joining in, the more they want to be a part of it.
And the ultimate social proof machine in their algorithm, because of how it learns. It will suggest shows based on what other, similar users to you have liked in the past.
Visitors can interact with their review directory to learn what others are saying about the movies and shows they’re interested in. This savvy use of social proof, making it easy to see what your peers have to say, is why it’s so popular. IMDb, with over 250 million unique visitors a month, is the top movie review site by far.
Reviews and customer testimonials are one of the best forms of social proof. Amazon is showing us another great way to use them.
Their review section breaks down ratings so you can see if more customers were happy or unhappy. You can actually see the number of people who reviewed the different star ratings.
Customers are also allowed to post specifics, with photos of what they bought. This makes these reviews more eye-catching than a wall of text alone. Clever isn’t it?
Facebook are the masters of social proof advertising. Facebook recommends articles and pages based on how your friends interact with them. This is using the theory that we trust our friends and family without fail. After all, it’s their recommendations we’ll take on board and believe the most.
Customer feedback is strong in any sense, but as we’ve seen it’s those closest to us that count the most. This is because we know they’re like us and share similar tastes.
So, if you see a product in use by a friend on social media, it’s going to have a big impact on your decision to buy. Snapchat makes the most of this by showing you where your friends are. You can see what they’re doing or if they’re attending a certain event/attraction.
Yelp aims to help city dwellers find fun, interesting places to eat, drink, shop, and more. Or show which places you need to avoid. The idea is a simple one — you leave reviews for somewhere you’ve been. And you check reviews when you want to go somewhere new.
That in itself isn’t new. But Yelp is innovative in the way that users can interact with each other. You can set a profile, post updates and they even feature a “users of the day”. It’s about building yourself as a trustworthy “expert” who’s reviews others can trust.
7. Celebs Drinking a Starbucks
It’s not like anyone doesn’t know who Starbucks it, we’ve all heard of it for better or for worse. But seeing frequent photos of celebs, Starbucks in hand, reinforces that it’s the cool, hip thing to do. If it’s good enough for our heroes, we don’t want to miss out on the action either. Celebrity engagement also generates extra free publicity.
Letting people know how many others you’ve served is social proof in it’s simplest form. McDonald’s “Drive-Thru” shows the number of people served in millions. And then by billions.
Would you buy food from a chain that’s served billions? Of course! It’s clear that they’re a reliable bet to get that fast food binge.
9. Google Play Store
As well as the standard rating system, like Amazon, Google Play shows you how many people gave how many stars. By doing this, it shows how many people have given a 5-star rating, accompanied by a matching 5-star review.
It suggests how awesome the app is, and how many people love it. And on the flip side, it also lets users know the ones it’s best to avoid.
10. The New York Times Best Seller Lists
The New York Times Best Seller list is one of the most well-known examples of social proof. It’s come into its own as a prestigious goal to aim for. Authors that make the cut gain fame, and sales. And if it makes it to the list, well then it’s got to be worth a read, hasn’t it?
When browsing Airbnb, you check for homes that are well-reviewed, affordable or popular. You can look at recommendations and reviews from friends and strangers alike. It ensures that there’s no false advertising and you know what you’re getting.
Kickstarter was all about bringing funding to the underappreciated creative minds out there. And that’s exactly what they have achieved.
Kickstarter uses the social proof method of Wisdom of Crowds. It’s encouraging people to join a cause and invest together. They’re clear to state things like “Over 10 million people funded” to give real stats and figures. Figures that provide unwavering confidence in their projects.
It works because, in people’s minds, that many people can’t be wrong. Big numbers are impressive. And having that many people behind a project gives faith to others. If so many believe in a product, it must be worth a shot. And of course, the dreaded FOMO plays a part too, it’s more prevalent than you think.
Customers of Hyve can share reviews from Trustpilot via its LinkedIn account. It’s another example of how customer reviews are a way to get users into complete and action.
It’s both simple and effective. You can share customer reviews from different review sites to your target audience. All you do is share the reviews on your social media channels.
Don’t Miss Out on What Social Proof Can Do For You
So there you have it! Social proof is a powerful tool when used right to persuade your users into taking an action.
We all take recommendations from loved ones, but even strangers can have a sway on our decisions. When it feels like we’re part of something big, everyone wants to see what the hype is all about. No one wants to miss out.