No matter how independent and disruptive you think you are, you’re still subject to the power of the group.
Human beings are fundamentally social creatures. We define ourselves in relation to other individuals and groups. Because of this, humans often unconsciously associate the actions of the majority with what is correct or good, regardless of what the objective truth might be. This social psychological principle is referred to as social proof. It can be leveraged by a shrewd marketer in order to increase trust, visibility, and credibility for a product or service.
Let’s begin by delving into what social proof is. Then, we’ll investigate how it works with five brand examples. Finally, we’ll talk about the ways you can start leveraging this powerful tool.
The Magic of Social Proof: 5 Brand Examples to Spark Your Imagination
What is Social Proof?
Social proof doesn’t refer to a specific tactic employed by a marketing team, rather, it’s a principle of social psychology. The term describes the way human beings act in most given situations. It can be used in a variety of ways to achieve the desired effect: nudge consumers to adapt their behaviors to be in line with what they perceive others to be doing.
If people like a product enough to demonstrate their positive feelings towards it, then it must be good, right?
5 Brand Examples of Social Psychology in Action
Implementing social proof can be an easy update for your brand. With so many purchasing choices available online, uncertainty has become the name of the game for consumers.
Social proof helps alleviate the anxiety of potentially making a faulty choice by providing potential customers with various forms of assurance. This is particularly important in B2B business models, where sales of complex services such as business software can potentially run hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Below are five of the most common forms of social proofing that can be applied to your next marketing venture:
This type of social proof is when a certified expert lends credibility to a particular product or service.
In this example, the thought leadership website Content Marketing Institute had notable CMO influencer Michael Brenner contribute to their blog, which lead to him sharing the piece on his Twitter account. This introduced the company’s brand to his follower base.
The most basic form of social proof, this refers to having the current users of your product or service leave positive reviews on a visible online location such as social media or on a dedicated review platform such as G2.com.
G2 has verified user reviews designed to help demonstrate the value of your brand. This example from the marketing automation software category shows the benefits of being able to provide trusted testimonials from actual users. There is an in-depth look at the product from someone with relevant experience. There are also additional elements to build trust like user verification.
This article offers some other ways that you can collect social proof from your users.
Similar to the expert form of social proof, celebrity proof is when someone with a high level of cultural relevance supports your initiative.
While a celebrity might not have as high a level of expertise in a given field as an expert, they generally have a much larger audience that their endorsement will expose your brand to.
Here we can see how the upscale watch brand, Omega, is utilizing their longtime brand ambassador George Clooney to add an element of cultural desirability to their product. Even though Clooney might not be a watch expert, his relevance as an actor and activist translate to social capital for the brand he is associated with.
Read more: How to Find Influencers for Your Niche
Similar to expert social proof, a certification is when your brand is officially recognized by an authority in your particular industry or field. This has the benefit of being more widely appreciable to consumers not yet familiar with a particular space.
A nice example of this is how some websites will use badges from review platforms or other third-party entities to quickly demonstrate their quality to any visitor, regardless of their experience with the type of product or service.
This tactic is best paired with a user review initiative in order to have relevant testimonials that can provide more information.
Wisdom of the crowd
This refers to the most basic facet of the social proofing phenomenon: the more people who endorse a product or service, the more positively it is viewed by potential consumers.
This could be as simple as social media likes or follows, to as robust as verified written out testimonials.
This bit of marketing copy from Delta Airlines website might seem simple enough, but if you look closely, it’s evident that they want you to see the staggering quantity of people who use their service every year. After all, if you had to entrust yourself to a company for air travel, you probably want to use the one that so many others are using, right?
If you have an established customer base, this can be an excellent way to leverage it into a plan to help grow your business even further. It can help you target customers no matter what stage of awareness they’re currently in.
Relying on the shared knowledge and experience of those around you is an integral part of the human social condition.
It makes sense, then, that if someone sees others endorsing or even just liking a brand on social media that it will influence their thinking in a positive direction when it comes time for them to make a purchasing decision.
How to Use Social Proof
Now that you know why social proof is effective and the variety of forms it can take, the next step is understanding how best to utilize it.
There is one thing at the core of social proof: people! Preferably a lot of them. The trick is to get them interested in your brand. After all, the point of using social proof is to organically generate that interest in the first place. Therefore, you need to employ some different strategies in order to get the ball rolling.
Try sourcing reviews and testimonials from your existing customer base or offering product demos in exchange for reviews. Alternatively, many review platforms have partner programs where they will source reviews of your product or service in order to give you an excellent starting point.
A good piece of CRM software can go a long way towards helping you build a concerted marketing campaign that will quickly and effectively garner the social proof you need to fuel your efforts. This type of software will help you track and manage your interactions in a single database that can then be adapted into the beginnings of a powerful sales prospecting tool.
Making use of a project management tool can help you work cross-functionally with other teams on these strategies and reevaluate performance.
Social proof is an important element in the marketing toolkit for improving conversions and helping to turbo-charge your next business initiative. Understanding the different ways this phenomenon manifests in the world can help grow your business and breathe new life into your performance numbers.