With so many websites and apps to turn to when researching a new restaurant to try, how do you know which information source to choose? If one restaurant has hundreds of 5-star reviews and the other has 27 4-star ratings, which one are you more likely to choose—obvious, right? This is an example of how consumers are constantly influenced by the social psychology phenomenon called social proof. This theory was popularized by psychologist Robert Cialdini, showing social proof is a way people discern what the correct option is by referencing what others think is the right choice – especially during decision-making times.
There are four main behaviors of social proof to keep in mind:
- Uncertainty: Why do consumers look to others for guidance in the first place? They are uncertain of a decision or looking for advice. This is the main driver that feeds social proof tactics.
- Similarity: This is another propeller that feeds the motivation of seeking social proof. A person is more likely to trust opinions of those who are most like themselves. Our society is usually seeking to do the same thing that our peers are doing and influences perception.
- Expertise: Social proof becomes more influential when the surrounding people are perceived as particularly knowledgeable about a situation or are even just slightly more familiar with the situation than the observer is. This reiterates that we trust those we admire and respect.
- Number: If there are certain behaviors or actions by numerous people, the consumer is more likely to be influenced and perceive this idea to be correct. When the same idea is backed by multiple sources, this gives the consumer the assurance of credibility – a experience called the multiple source effect.
Now that you know how social proof influences behaviors, we can look how to build trust with your customers and create more authenticity when they are making decisions. A few examples of types of clients which benefit from social proof marketing are home services, retail, and ecommerce companies. When creating your marketing plan, you should use these tactics to better guide your customer through their journey and influence their behaviors. Here are five easy ways to leverage social proof into your marketing plan:
Testimonials & Reviews
Using real customer testimonials is a powerful resource that directly showcases social proof. One of the ways to build this credibility and make it easy for potential customers to see is making sure your Google My Business account is accurate, up to date, and ready to receive reviews. When you have a current account, you can respond to any reviews to show your appreciation or answer any questions. Social media is also an easy way to showcase those positive reviews by reposting a review or resharing to your platform directly. Don’t miss out putting these on your website as well!
If you have a success story, why not share it? There is an opportunity for someone like-minded who might be interested in how you are going to execute a similar strategy for their company. This brings the similarity and expertise principles of social proof together, showcasing different ways results are driven for clients. You can use case studies on your website, social media, presentations, emails, newsletters and more – anywhere you are trying to build trust with your target audience.
This is one of the strongest ideas that creates confidence with a brand – when a credible company or association has awarded your company with distinct honors. You can show off your accolades through your website, posting on social media, and putting that information on any appropriate branded collateral. You should also be applying for different types of awards and recognition as it is free, earned media if you win. This is a big selling point for recruiting employees as well if they know they are going to work for a company that already has its employees speaking their praise.
There’s a reason why you always see advertisements that have expert claims such as “9 out of 10 dentists recommend this toothpaste.” We trust what the experts trust, and this is a tried-and-true marketing tactic that shouldn’t be overlooked. 85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out expert, trusted content when considering a purchase. Be sure to place these credible reviews and praises on your marketing collateral, but don’t overdo it! You need to ensure you first have credibility with your audience for them to believe these claims. By utilizing a mixed content strategy that layers in credible third-party content, your own branded content, and user-generated content, you’ll see greater interaction with all your content and a much stronger impact throughout each stage of the customer journey.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Did you know that 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands? This is a blend of the principles of social proof and is one of the most powerful ideas for social proof. When companies are using UGC on different channels, it has shown to have higher brand engagement. Your potential and current customers are helping build your credibility and trust for you! Most people will look at reviews and do their research before purchasing a product or deciding on a service. This is also a great opportunity to get inside your customers’ head – if there is commonly asked questions or themes, you can create content that will answer those questions, create a website FAQ page, hold social media contests, and utilize strong keywords that are being used in the conversation. Sparking engagement and building a community online is a great way to build a bridge between your brand and customers.
Implementing into Your Marketing Plan
In the realm of marketing, there are several platforms and touchpoints that you can utilize for creating social proof. No matter your scope and budget, you can easily start leveraging this resource to increase your brand awareness, engagement, and conversions. When creating your marketing plan, remember to feature social proof by thinking of the above tactics early on to create a seamless customer journey. These are essential tactics that every business shouldn’t be afraid to utilize!