The (social) proof is in the pudding.

Have you heard the term ‘social proof’ but are unsure what it’s all about? We’ve got you covered!

Social proof is the idea that consumers will adapt their behaviour based on what other people are doing. Nothing new there really? When we see a line of excited customers waiting to eat at a popular restaurant or a photo of a celebrity applying a new lipstick to their famous pout, it lends an air of gravitas and quality to the product, doesn’t it?

The use of social proof can be found in many offline and online marketing areas. In this article, we’ll focus on using social proof online to boost your marketing effectiveness.

We often form opinions based on our overall impression of someone, for example:

  • We think anything that experts use must be amazing because they are probably more knowledgeable than us in their area of specialisation.
  • We buy products endorsed by celebrities because we admire them.
  • We trust user reviews because they have experienced the product or service, unlike ourselves, example below:
Example of a Google Review

There are a few types of social proof, including:

Expert: when an expert in your industry recommends your products or services or is associated with your brand.
  • Celebrity: when a celebrity endorses your products.
  • User: when your current customers recommend your products and services based on their experiences with your brand.
  • The wisdom of the crowd: is when a large group of people is seen endorsing your brand.
  • The wisdom of your friends: is when people see their friends approve of your product.
  • Certification: is when you are given a stamp of approval by a figure of authority in your industry.
Now that we have a better understanding of social proof, let’s discover how you can tap into this mighty marketing tool.

Collaborate with experts for a social media event

You could invite experts as guests for your social media events, such as Instagram Live or Facebook Live discussions. These collaborations can allow you to tap into the experts’ positive influence and let your social media audiences hear and learn from experts in the industry.

Show your appreciation

It’s a real thrill to receive a positive mention from the media, a big brand, or an influencer in your industry. This is an excellent form of expert social proof. There are many ways to share this form of social proof on social media. Here are some examples of (humble) phrases you might like to use:
  • “Cheers for the mention.”
  • “Honoured to be featured.”

Share milestones

Another easy way to create social proof is to show gratitude for your user or follower milestones. It is the perfect time to thank the people who have helped you achieve those landmark occasions. Here are some of the milestones you can celebrate with your audience:
  • Reaching X users
  • Reaching X customers
  • Getting X downloads of your app
  • Gaining X followers on your social media profile
  • Anniversaries

Experiment with (micro) influencer marketing

Influencer marketing can be a cost-efficient and highly effective way of getting celebrity social proof. This is usually more popular on Instagram. Brands can sponsor micro-influencers (people with a strong social media influence in a niche area and aren’t celebrities) to post about their products. Because of their social media influence, micro-influencers are often regarded as celebrities within the niche area. When others see them with a particular product, they will associate the positive attributes they see in these “celebrities” to the product.

Share customers’ love for your product

Receiving shout-outs on social media from your customers can be one of the most rewarding outcomes for brands. Sharing these mentions on your social media profiles is a great way to generate user social proof and show potential customers your users’ love for your product, for example:

Display testimonials on your website

Don’t forget to share your customers’ shout-outs on your website by displaying them as testimonials or a live feed of Google/Facebook reviews.

Size does matter

If you have a large customer base, you could mention the size in your profile bio. It is a great example of the wisdom of the crowd social proof. When people see that many others are using your product, they will likely have a positive first impression of your product.

Apart from the size of your customer base, here’re a few other stats you could mention:

  • Number of countries your customers are in (e.g. in 20+ countries)
  • Number of goods sold every day, week, month, or year (e.g. 1,000 weekly)
  • Number of recommendations given (e.g. more than 100 five star ratings on Google Reviews)

Leveraging social proof

If you have the budget for social ads, you might consider targeting your Facebook ads at the friends of the people who like your page. This assumes that this target audience is similar to your current Facebook page fans and would also like the products you sell.

Here’s how:

  • When you are defining your target audience in the Facebook Ads Manager,
  • scroll down to “Connections”
  • select “Add a connection type”
  • then, select “Facebook Pages” > “Friends of people who like your Page”
  • enter your page name in the field provided.

Facebook will automatically add the wisdom of friends social proof for you (yay!).

Use social proof in your ad copy

Another way to use social proof in your ads is to include it in your ad copy.

Here are some examples:

  • Feature an expert recommending your product
  • Show a celebrity or micro-influencer endorsing your product
  • Mention the number of customers you have

Encourage customers to leave a good rating

If you are a local business, you can enable ratings and reviews on your Facebook page. Don’t forget the power of positive reviews on your Google My Business profile, which is essential for boosting your search results. Good ratings and reviews are a great form of user social proof.

Leverage social proof everywhere

Armed with all this exciting info about the social proof tools at your disposal, it’s time to leverage them! Promote all those fantastic testimonials, user statistics, mentions, etc., by using your social media channels, dust them throughout your website, and consider creating dedicated pages to highlight examples of social proof such as case studies and reviews. Sprinkle them generously throughout your marketing collateral, landing pages, and email marketing campaigns. After all, social proof is only effective when it is highly visible!

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