What Is Social Proof and Why Is it So Important in 2020?

Low barriers to entry and global competition make it harder than ever for businesses today to stand out from the crowd. Here we talk about social proof, social validation, and social proof marketing. We also provide creative examples of how companies can leverage these powerful business tools within their overarching marketing strategies.

What Is Social Proof?

Even with a great product, an optimized website, and the right packaging, you may find it hard to generate sales. This is especially true for startups and small to midsize companies trying to hit their stride.

We all have an in-built psychological screen that we use to determine “correct” behaviors based on what we see other people doing. Social proof – sometimes used interchangeably with social validation – is any form of third-party endorsement that encourages a buyer to make a purchase. Think of it as groupthink or the herd mentality. In terms of digital marketing, social proof can be used to eliminate consumer concerns and make a product more desirable based on the assumption that if other people are doing something, using something, or buying something, then it should be good enough for me, too.

Social Proof Marketing

Here are ways businesses can use social proof to promote sales.

  • User testimonials: Likes, shares, and comments are all examples of user social proofs. Over 80% of buyers read reviews before making a purchase decision.
  • Use an expert: You can get an industry expert – this can be a thought leader or someone known and respected in the community – to recommend your product or service or simply associate themselves with your brand. For example, an expert tweeting about how they used or how much they liked your service is a great example of expert social proof marketing.
  • Celebrity endorsements: Having a celebrity use or endorse your product on popular platforms such as Instagram or even LinkedIn will not only get your product in front of millions of users, but can help reinforce your brand promise with buyers.
  • Groupthink: A large enough online following can be interpreted as widespread acceptance of your product or brand by the general public.
  • Certifications: Depending on your industry, there are various social proof certifications and credentials you can seek. Examples include secure payment certifications or certified compatibility with leading tech platforms.

Social Proof Examples

There are countless examples of how companies put social proof into action. Consider celebrity endorsements. Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Beyoncé have been sponsored by Pepsi, and Coca-Cola sponsors Taylor Swift. George Clooney and Nespresso have worked together for almost 15 years, and Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman have endorsed Chanel.

There are just as many sites dedicated to providing users with accurate reviews from real users. For example, Google My Business, Amazon, and Facebook are the leading review sites, but there are industry- and product-specific sites that also provide reviews, such as CNET for tech products and Edmunds for cars. Sites such as TrustPilot and Yelp also provide comprehensive review and search tools for businesses and products to help guide buyers during the purchase journey, with TrustPilot geared more toward companies and categories and Yelp geared toward services.

How You Can Do It

Here are a few quick guidelines on getting started with social proof as part of your marketing efforts.

  • Ask users for testimonials and provide quick and easy sharing, liking, and commenting buttons on your social pages.
  • Send out a survey to long-term clients and seek feedback from new clients as well.
  • Showcase positive reviews on your main landing pages or in a blog.
  • Create a hashtag, encourage tagging or sharing via sweepstakes or discounts, and post regularly on the leading social networks.
  • Send free samples to influencers.
  • Repurpose traction however you can. If you had a large event, met a milestone, or were featured by someone or in a publication, post about it on the different online channels you maintain. Just be sure to package each post the right way based on the platform.
  • Invest in the right trust symbols based on the industries in which you operate.

With the right social proof tools in place, you can generate a considerable amount of interest in your products and services. At REQ, we handle advertising and media, brand strategy, data and analytics, digital advocacy, reputation management, and public relations. Contact us to discuss how we can help you develop social proof for your brand.

Let’s talk.