How do you convince people of your products’ quality effectively and without spending abundant resources on PPC ads or paid sponsored content? Social proof is considered one of the oldest ways of influencing people’s purchase decisions, and it’s been around since word of mouth became a thing.
According to SmallBizTrends, 66% of customers actively look for social proof before making a purchase, with 82% claiming that positive reviews matter considerably. Based on BigCommerce, 92% of people trust social proof recommendations more than any other form of advertisement, with 70% who trust reviews from strangers.
Social media platforms, instant messaging apps, and online forums have made it easy for people to share thoughts and recommendations on brands they trust. From the perspective of a brand looking for new ways to market its portfolio, you can gain an advantage from social proofing your brand in 2021. Let’s discuss what social proof is all about and the best ways to implement it into your existing marketing pipeline.
The Purpose and Benefits of Social Proofing Your Brand
What’s social proof all about? Social proof represents the collective content created by third parties in relation to your brand’s quality of services. Anything from social media comments, eCommerce reviews, YouTube videos about your brand, etc., can be considered social proof. Some of the content types which you can also consider social proof include:
- Photos and videos from customers
- Your brand’s hashtags alongside user-generated content
- Ratings and reviews of your products and services
- Interaction metrics (number of downloads, number of customers, etc.)
- Certified approvals from other brands and industry professionals
- Testimonials and recommendations from experts
Judging by Social Media Today, 93% of customers stated that online reviews impacted their purchase decisions, with 68% who fully trust social proof content. Encouraging people to write reviews and rate your business on Google or otherwise mention your brand can be extremely helpful. Some of the benefits you stand to gain from social proofing your brand consist of but are not limited to:
- Improved credibility of your brand’s content and product quality
- Increased customer retention and subsequent word of mouth
- Better ranking in global search engines such as Google and Bing
- Expanded B2B networking and collaboration opportunities
- Greater access to public feedback for future brand development
Categorization of Social Proof
As we’ve mentioned, social proof represents user-generated content written by different third parties about your brand. Apart from different content types, social proof also comes in a variety of categories depending on who created the particular endorsement. For the sake of easier internal content management, here are the social proof categories you should consider using as a benchmark for your brand:
- Expert social proof – social proof created by respected professionals from your industry
- User social proof – content created by B2C customers and published on social media or review sites
- Celebrity social proof – this typically involves working with an influencer to market your brand
- Certification – applying for and gaining reputable certification from different companies (Twitter check mark, etc.)
- Crowd social proof – numeric social proof related to your brand’s following, sales, and interaction metrics
As you can see, different types of social proof will require deliberate steps on your part for them to manifest. Targeting B2C customers to boost their social proof content generation won’t affect industry experts to do the same. Thus, careful planning and clever marketing, in addition to high quality of services will matter more than anything in regard to generating your social proof.
How to Social Proof your Brand Effectively Going Forward
#1. Invite Users to Comment and Review your Products/Services
The easiest way to get started on your social proof content is to introduce calls to action to your existing marketing strategy. Calls to action in the form of personalized requests to your customers in regard to reviews, comments, and feedback can do wonders for their engagement.
Use your social media pages, website, and email list to reach out to your followers and formally ask for their testimonials. While not everyone will jump at the call to action, many will still do it and allow you to gather much-needed user-generated content quickly.
#2. Collaborate with Industry Experts
Reaching out to famous industry experts and established professionals for endorsement is a great way to improve your brand’s social proof game significantly. Experts who review brands and their products carry much more weight than traditional customers and can greatly improve your brand’s public perception.
The social proof content you create with industry experts can extend to podcast-style interviews, video demonstrations, and other multimedia. Make sure that you can offer something in return as well, as monetary compensation or promotion of their persona or brand can be mutually beneficial.
#3. Share your Brand’s Milestones
Brand milestones can be used to showcase how committed you are to the wellbeing and satisfaction of your customers and B2B stakeholders alike. These milestones can consist of anything from “X years working to satisfy your needs” to “X number of satisfied clients in the past year.”
Go through your performance data to see which numbers you could use as social proof. It’s important that the empiric data you choose for marketing works in your favor and has an overwhelmingly positive note. No one will be impressed by poor or lukewarm social proof, so analyze your performance and look for potential promoters.
#4. Balance Micro and Macro Influencers
Social media influencers can be an amazing source of social proof content for your brand. The benefit of working with influencers is that you will effectively gain access to their followers through their endorsement, bolstering your brand’s reach.
However, you shouldn’t limit yourself only to macro-influencers with millions of followers – micro-influencers can also help your brand considerably. Audit popular social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and look for individuals who could fit into your marketing strategy. Depending on the types of products and services you offer, different influencers will fit the bill in terms of their own follower base’s expectations.
#5. Gather and Publish User-Generated Content
While directly asking your customers and clients for social proof content such as testimonials and reviews can work, you can also collect different content manually. Social media comments, online storefront reviews, and Google Business reviews can all be a part of your social proof marketing strategy.
Gathering said content and publishing it in the form of written posts, and multimedia can work wonders in boosting your brand reputation. It’s important to note the original authors of each post to maintain the notion that real people commented and reviewed your brand. With so much spam content online, future customers may have a tough time believing the validity of your social proof content otherwise.
Social Proof Mistakes to Keep in Mind
Now that we’ve covered several ways in which you can social proof your brand effectively let’s talk about the other side of the coin. Mainly, what should you avoid doing at all costs when it comes to social proofing your brand?
Failing to spot these mistakes on time can result in the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish with social proof. It can cause your brand reputation to drop, and with it, your lead generation and sales can grind to a halt. Here are a few social proof mistakes to be on the lookout for and to avoid in your future endeavors:
Social proof without source or attribution
Social proof in the form of testimonials and reviews has to feature its source for customers to believe what it says. Writing “This is an amazing platform to use” and failing to add any form of source for users to backtrack will spur suspicion very quickly. Attribute each piece of social proof to its author to mitigate that.
Negative social proof
It is very easy to look at a piece of user-generated content and not think twice about what it actually says. Be very mindful of which social proof you use to market your brand and take extra care to read through every word slowly. Publishing a clearly negative review or testimonial by accident will also break trust in your brand.
Publishing social proof without consent
While you may get away with publishing social proof content from your storefront reviews or social media, the same cannot be said about B2B testimonials. It’s important that you ask for and receive consent from the original author before publishing (their headshot is a bonus). Failing to do so can cause severe legal issues for your brand.
Harnessing the Power of Social Proof (Conclusion)
Social proof remains one of the most pivotal marketing strategies out there, especially with how digitally-reliant we have become. Whether you work as a SaaS business or an eCommerce store, social proof regarding your brand can drastically change how people perceive your brand.
With so many types of social proof to choose from, you can shape your brand’s image the way you see fit. Doing that will bolster your engagement rates and sales and further improve the quality of social proof content people create about your brand.
About the Author!
Nicole Garrison is a professional content creator, copywriter, and editor with extensive experience in digital
publishing. She is an expert writer of articles, case studies, and research in marketing, sales, and business
development. Nicole contributes her writing expertise to the best website for writing papers where she works on academic papers for students in need of writing assistance. In her spare time, Nicole is a blogger and a chef.