The 6 types of social proof you need to know about
Why social proof and customer stories help people buy
Think back to the last time you considered a significant purchase?
- is it worth it?
- will it work?
- will it fit?
- will it last?
- do I need it?
- does this do what it claims it can do?
When you can’t find the answers to these questions you look to others to guide your decision. You hop on to Google, look at reviews, or ask your friends, seeking to understand the experience of others.
In marketing lingo we call that social proof – where you trust people who aren’t connected to the brand to guide your decision.
Including social proof in your buyers’ journey is a smart move. And it can help ease the worried minds of consumers and get them adding to cart quick smart.
Are you answering the questions in your buyer’s minds when they are ready to purchase?
Six types of social proof
1. The wisdom of Crowds
Remember that expression jumping on the bandwagon? It’s what happens when you see a bunch of people doing the same thing, and you want in.
There’s a bit of FOMO at play too.
In practice: Join 120,000 people who already get this email.
2. People like you
We like to feel an affinity for people who behave and think like us. When you design inference to people like you, it draws a link between you and your preferences and the preferences of others.
In practice: this product was used to get this amazing result
3. Circle of friends (oh hey influencers)
Your close friends purchasing decisions start to influence what you buy too.
Ever turned up to an event and your bestie is in a similar outfit?
At a party, you can tell who hangs out – the same style of dresses, similar jewellery, and favourite brands.
It’s also why influencers have become an important part of many brand strategies. More about that later.
4. People who use your products and services
Real customers are the most powerful type of social proof because it uses actual people who have used your products and services.
It’s not a marketing spin. It’s real people. Just like the potential buyer. It carries a lot of weight.
In practice: Google Reviews, LinkedIn recommendations, Testimonials, and Case Studies
As kids we never listened to our parents, we sought advice from the aunties and uncles around us, even though our parents knew us better and were more qualified to give us the advice we needed.
It’s why we like expert opinions outside of the company to build our trust in the expertise of the business.
In practice: works well in service businesses, 3rd party research, and an Expert panel or speaker.
6. Celebrities and micro-influencers
Celebrity endorsements and influencer campaigns are the norm these days because social media has made it easier than ever to get in front of bigger audiences.
The thought is, some of this coolness and street cred will rub off on me if I buy this thing.
In practice: ranges from strategically placed products in shots, to blatant – this is a sponsored ad product push.
Brands of all sizes are having huge success with influencers.
How to collect social proof for your business
The best way to get social proof from your customers is to ask them.
include asking for a review/recommendation in your process
make it automatic so you don’t have to think about it
make it easy on your customer (links that work, ideas on what to say).
act on feedback (good, bad, ugly)
listen on social media, set up Google alerts for mentions of your name.
There’s also a great list on Hootsuite.
How to use social proof along the customer journey
Although testimonials are the most powerful there are other ways you can show it within your communications. For example:
- Share the numbers that matter to you and your audience : years in business, the number of customers, ranking in the marketplace.
- Refer to customers as a collective. E.G. Our clients told us they…
- Don’t be afraid to share your achievements and positive feedback.
Share publicity, product reviews, and endorsements.
- Tell stories of customers using your product and the transformation they go through
As a sole trader and service business, social proof is a must-have tactic in my own marketing as I know how powerful it is to help people decide whether they want to work with me or not.
But it also makes me happy (and keeps my tail wagging). It reminds me I’m doing a good job for clients and helping them reach their marketing goals. And that feels good.
About the Author
Rebecca Cofrancesco is an experienced marketing strategist and content creator.
She works with professional services brands and offers freelance services without the overhead of a full-time employee.
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