Social Proof is a term coined by the Psychologist Robert Cialdini, in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s used to describe the concept that people tend to follow the actions of the masses. As humans, it’s in our inherent nature to think that if the majority behaves in a certain way, then it must be the correct behaviour.
Social proof is a concept that if leveraged in the right way, can result in incredible marketing outcomes. And the best thing is, it doesn’t take a large marketing budget to do so.
Why bother with social proof?
As markets evolve, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand the psychology that underpins consumer decision making. Here are some reasons why social proof is becoming more critical in modern marketing.
Zero Moment of Truth
Consumers are more tech-savvy now than ever before. This means they spend their time researching online before ultimately deciding on a purchase decision. This makes it that much more important to meet potential customers with the sentiment that socially proves what they are looking for.
A Zero Moment of Truth is a term coined by the team at Google, which shows how consumers make purchase decisions during their ‘Zero Moment’ – or the precise moment they have a need, intent or question they want answered.
If brands are able to not only answer questions commonly posed by individuals during their Zero Moment but also offer a viable product option, they are positioned favourably over brands who don’t.
If a brand is not present during this time, it becomes practically irrelevant and invisible. It’s extremely important for brands to have social proof for consumer validation during this period of the customer journey.
Authority is one of the six principles of persuasion along with Social Proof in Robert Cialdini’s book Influence. To an extent, the idea of authority lends itself to social proof in that it can dictate consumer decision making.
In today’s digital landscape, it’s much easier to build brand authority online by displaying social proof such as case studies, testimonials, social media engagement, web rankings in search engines etc.
Using your digital space to showcase your brand’s work and the impact it’s had, will ultimately help your brand stand out as an authority in the field.
Tactics for generating social proof
These are a range of the tactics that you can implement to boost the social proof for your brand.
One of the simplest ways you can add social proof to your website is to showcase customer reviews and client testimonials. These work because they show prospective clients that real people have used your service and received real, positive results.
If you’re an eCommerce website and sell a product or service, adding a review feature can also help build social proof. As more people review and provide feedback on your products, prospective customers will be more inclined to buy products that other people are buying.
You could also look at using web applications like Proof to show notifications of real people taking actions on their website, which is a great way to boost your PPC conversions.
If you’re just starting out, and don’t have any testimonials yet, try adding thought leadership content to your website through the form of a blog. This will help build on your brand authority by showing your brand as a leader in its space.
What better way to validate and establish social proof in abundance than on social media? Social media is often the first place that a customer will interact with your offerings. In addition to being an organic marketing tool, social media also provides an outlet for showcasing workplace culture, thought leadership as well as portfolio work.
One of the advantages that social media platforms have over a website is the timely way in which companies engage with their audience. Direct messaging, comments, shares and likes are all simple actions that companies can take on their social channels to show their audience that they are listening and interested in what their following has to say. Regular interaction with customers is another easy yet powerful means of improving social proof.
But best of all, when it comes to social media, are engaged followers and brand mentions which really makes a business stand out among its competitors. When your target audience observes similar people heavily associating with your business, they too will want to be a part of it.
The SEO world debates this all the time – whether social proof such as social sharing and brand mentions actually affect search engine rankings or not, but we definitely think they do.
Remember the last time when you heard about a new business and pulled out your mobile to Google it? That’s right, your search engine rankings can impact how people perceive your business. If your website doesn’t appear on Google on performing a branded query about your business, it can be a major turn-off for your potential customers.
Start using social proof in marketing
So now you know the how and why of social proof, it’s time to put the concept into action. Collect customer reviews, engage with your customers on social platforms, and showcase why your brand really is a cut above the rest.
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