What is social proof and 20 ways to use it in your marketing
Social proof was coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book Influence, and the concept is also known as informational social influence. 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. The term was coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book Influence.” (Wikipedia) Basically social proof is using psychology to explain how influence impacts another person’s actions and judgements.
Social proof is often broken down into six parts: Case studies, testimonials, reviews, social media, trust icons, and data.
In marketing and sales this means utilizing other people to influence the actions you want other stakeholders to take with your brand, service, product, and business. Persuasion is a powerful method of marketing. This blog will go over six parts and 4 ways to incorporate each in your marketing strategy.
There are 6 basic types of social proof that we can utilize:
1. Case Studies/Data: Utilizing data-driven and an in-depth analysis of a product or service to influence a buying decision. Data uses facts and statistics collected for reference or analysis. Case studies dive into your data to come to a conclusion, explain a result, discuss a trend, etc.
2. Testimonials: A formal statement testifying to a person or businesses’ character, qualifications, product, service, etc. You can use testimonials as a referral or recommendation to influence your business’s stakeholders. Testimonials are often refined, requested and filtered by a business.
3. Reviews: Think of this as similar to a recommendation but less refined and not filtered by a business/owner.
4. Social Media: Using websites and applications to enable users to create and share content and participate in social networking. I like to think of this form of social proof as engagement from stakeholders in the form of tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram comments, etc
5. Trust Icons / Expert: This form of social proof utilizes influencers, celebrities, experts, news, etc to influence a stakeholder’s opinion on your brand, business, service, and/or product.
6. Data / Numbers: Utilizing insights, numbers and comparisons to influence a stakeholder’s buying decision. These are often quick snippets of information that can push the reader to a conclusion. These are quick facts/observations and not in-depth analysis like case studies.
Now that you know what social proof is, why do you need to incorporate it into your marketing? Why is it a valuable component to your business strategy?
- 40% of consumers find new brands to follow online based on recommendations from friends and family.
- 91% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
- 82% of Americans ask for referrals and recommendations from family and friends before making any kind of purchase.
In a few words: social proof gets your business more sales and engagement. By using these 6 parts, we can see that there are several ways to incorporate social proof into your marketing strategy. Here’s 20 ways:
4 Case Study Ideas for Your Marketing Strategy.
1) Study how your service/product helped your customer. These use past experiences, success, and data to showcase how your product/service helped a stakeholder. Showcasing the results and benefits of your product/service in the form of a case study can help influence other prospective customers/customers to use your service
You can see an example of this on Hubspot : https://www.hubspot.com/case-studies by showcasing how Hubspot’s CRM grew a business from 0 to 121 US locations.
2) Hypothesis for strategy: These are not a case study about something you’ve already completed, but what you want to achieve for someone. To tell your audience what you expect to happen after they utilize your product or service.
You’ve probably seen this with Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” They are using a hypothesis backed by years of data to build a case that you will save by switching to their service.
3) Instrumental Case study: These are insights into a phenomenon. The focus of these case studies is to not highlight the results of a phenomenon, but make prospects aware of the relationship between the phenomenon and its solution.
You see this with Social Media Examiner’s “2021 Social Media Marketing Industry report. They highlight facts, studies, and information to highlight a phenomenon and influence a solution.
4) Cumulative Case Study: This study is a common type. It uses qualitative research that collects information from different sources.
For example Hubspot’s State of Marketing Report highlights industry brings in surveys from businesses, industry trends, insights from other data sources.
4 Testimonial Ideas for Your Marketing Strategy.
1) Showcase Testimonials on your website front page. Brief blurbs of customer testimonials on your homepage adds immediate social proof and validation of your product/service.
2) Record testimonials to create a video testimonial series. Use testimonial videos on your YouTube Page. With YouTube being the 2nd largest search engine, it’s a great way to build SEO and Social Proof.
3) Share them on social media as an image, quote or video linking to a specific page or youtube series.
4) Use testimonials in case studies. Here you can combine multiple areas of social proof for maximum effect.
4 Review Ideas for Your Marketing Strategy.
1) Include your reviews on service/product pages. Highlighting your reviews in a visual way when people are in the decision making process can help enforce stakeholders’ decision to buy.
According to a 2017 survey, 84% of consumers trust reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
2) Include reviews on your email marketing strategies. Asking a customer to leave a review on your website, Google, or Facebook after purchasing or using a product/service can help your business gain much more needed social proof.
3) Search engines don’t just monitor your page, but also what people say about you. Utilizing review functions in search engines will ultimately aid in your SEO goals. (Google, Yelp, etc)
4) Showcasing reviews on print marketing materials. Such as direct mailers. Showcasing a 4 star rating or quick review from a buyer can add instant social proof on traditional marketing.
4 Social Media Ideas for Your Marketing Strategy.
1) Awards and Accolades: Has your business been recognized? Showcasing them on social media is a great way to highlight your social proof and business presence on social media.
2) User generated content: Have stakeholders develop videos, posts, and other content and tag your social media profiles. This will increase your engagement and your social proof. This will work on any platform but is highly effective on Instagram and Tiktok.
3) Influencer Marketing: This combines using trust/icons with social media and reviews. This is a highly effective form of marketing and social proof if instituted properly. You can collaborate with someone with an engaged social media or blog to introduce your product/service.
4) Customer Base: Showcasing the number of customers you’ve served, products solde, or users you have. This shows that your business is well trusted since you’ve worked with many people.
4 Trust Icons Ideas for Your Marketing Strategy.
1) Podcasts/Vlogs: You can guest appear as an expert on other industry podcasts/vlogs. This will highlight your expertise, experience and product. This should also help you develop backlinks and introduce you to new customers.
2) Guest Writing on blogs: The same as guest appearing on podcasts, guest blogging as an expert allows you to highlight your business as the go to.
3) Bring in experts to highlight on your blog/page to discuss your product, service, industry, etc. This will showcase you as resourceful and introduce you to a new audience that follows that expert.
4) Influencer Marketing: This combines using trust/icons with social media and reviews. This is a highly effective form of marketing and social proof if instituted properly. You can collaborate with someone with an engaged social media or blog to introduce your product/service.
4 Data/Numbers for Your Marketing Strategy.
1) Using quick insights as posts on your social media and blog. Just like we did here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CT6zDfuKM0C/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
2) Using insights in sales/marketing emails to help showcase the importance of your product/service
3) Using data/numbers in combination with reviews to showcase your business’s reputation. You see this all the time with the commercials that state “Nine out of 10 doctors recommend [insert any number of medications]”.
4) Use surveys to collect data/numbers. Using surveys is a great way to increase engagement with stakeholders and gather real and relevant information about your brand/services.
Next time you are struggling to figure out ways to improve on your marketing strategy, try thinking about social proof. As you can see with case studies, testimonials, reviews, social media, and data you can add plenty of new elements to your strategy, or improve an old one. I hope these 20 ideas can help you get started with using social proof in your marketing and also help you generate more ideas.