Social proof is digital word of mouth that allows your customers to learn from the experience of others, ultimately helping them make purchasing decisions or convincing them to buy products and services based on what others have to say. Social proof isn't new, but consumers are becoming increasingly distrustful of brands. Instead of listening to what companies say about themselves, consumers want to know about others who are just like them.
Social proof motivates your customers to take action, making it an essential marketing tool you can utilize on your website or social media channels when creating content. For example, instead of trying products in-store, online customers can only get a feel for products based on photographs and reviews from other people.
This article will cover why social proof should be a part of your online marketing strategy, and the ways to use social proof, including:
- Social media
- On your website
- Including testimonials in email campaigns
- Encouraging people to leave online reviews
How does social proof improve your online reputation?
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people rely on the actions and opinions of others to determine their own behavior. In the context of online reputation, social proof refers to the influence that positive feedback, testimonials, reviews, ratings, and endorsements from others can have on shaping public perception and improving your reputation.
While you should never rely too heavily on social proof and should continue to focus on how to provide value to your customers, this part of your digital marketing strategy can help your customers act.
Social proof provides a resource for customers to learn about your brand, products, and services. It can also improve your SEO rankings by building trust between your business and its customers while enhancing your social media marketing strategy. In addition, social proof can be shared across all your platforms to help you better communicate your value to customers based on what past customers have to say.
Here's how social proof can enhance your online reputation:
- Trust and credibility: When potential customers or clients see that others have had positive experiences with your products, services, or brand, it builds trust and credibility. Positive reviews and testimonials act as proof that your offerings are reliable and trustworthy, making others more likely to choose you over competitors.
- Validation: Social proof validates your expertise, skills, or claims. When people observe that others have benefitted from your knowledge or expertise, they are more likely to trust your capabilities. This can be achieved through testimonials, case studies, or endorsements from recognized individuals or organizations within your industry.
- Increased visibility: Positive social proof can lead to increased visibility and exposure. People tend to share their positive experiences with others, whether through online reviews, social media posts, or word-of-mouth recommendations. This generates more awareness and can attract a larger audience to your brand or business.
- Decision-making shortcut: Social proof provides a shortcut for decision-making. When faced with numerous choices, people often look to others' opinions to help them make a decision. Positive social proof can help potential customers or clients feel more confident and comfortable in choosing your products or services.
- Counteract negative feedback or criticism: If you have encountered negative reviews or unfavorable comments, a strong base of positive social proof can mitigate their impact. Potential customers may give more weight to the positive experiences shared by others and consider them as a more accurate representation of your business.
- Customer engagement and loyalty: By actively encouraging and showcasing social proof, you can engage with your customers and foster a sense of loyalty. When customers see their positive feedback being valued and shared, it strengthens their connection to your brand and encourages them to become brand advocates.
Ways to use social proof
There are many ways to use social proof to improve your marketing efforts. Of course, the first step is to gather social proof. If you're using a website builder, you may be able to use integrations with email marketing and other review-gathering tools to automatically post reviews from customers online. Here are a few ways you can use social proof in your marketing strategy.
Social proof gives you additional content to use on your social media channels. Instead of posting sales content every day that doesn't get much engagement, you can post endorsements from celebrities, influencers, and your customers. In addition, using social proof on social media can foster trust. You can repost any social proof on your profile, including:
- Brand mentions in publications
- Shout-outs from celebrities
- Reviews from people who have used your product or services
If you spend money on digital advertising, consider adding social proof to promote trust with your customers. Crowd-based social proof that celebrates the number of good reviews your brand has can help you attract more customers because it demonstrates the value of your products and services.
You can highlight five-star reviews and the number of reviews as a quick and easy way to build trust with your ads rather than making the ads all about your business and not about the customers.
On your website
Every website, no matter what industry you're in, whether you sell mattresses or hiking apparel, can benefit from social proof through testimonials. Testimonials are powerful tools to help your customers make decisions about your brand or business. They can reassure prospective customers who are on the fence about whether to spend their money on your products and services.
When sharing customer testimonials, try to make them as relevant as possible. For example, you can share testimonials and reviews on product pages for specific products rather than general statements about the brand.
You can also feature testimonials at the bottom of your home page to show brand authenticity and convince prospective customers to continue browsing the website. Depending on the nature of your business, you might choose to highlight professional testimonials. For example, if you run a marketing agency, you should include testimonials from high-ranking executive titles to help convince your target audience of executives to take action on your website.
You can also highlight any earned media you've received as a result of your public relations efforts. For example, if your brand has been highlighted in any top-tier publications that your target audience would know, this can help boost your authority and credibility in the industry. Additionally, you can highlight celebrity endorsements or expert approvals. For example, an athletics company may receive endorsements from a pro athlete, while a makeup brand may receive expert approvals from dermatologists.
Share milestones in emails
Email marketing is a great way to keep customers coming back for more. However, instead of blasting your subscribers with sales, you can share company milestones to build trust among customers who haven't made a purchase yet and are unsure whether or not to trust your brand.
With email marketing, you can share company milestones like:
- How many happy customers you have
- Which products are the top-rated
- If you've been mentioned in any popular publications.
Encourage others to leave reviews
A business with reviews online can build customer trust, so it's good practice to get as many reviews as possible to share with your audience and help improve your brand. Using previous reviews from customers can help encourage others to leave reviews. For example, you can send an email marketing campaign that highlights a customer review and ask what individuals who have yet to leave reviews thought of your products and services.
Of course, you may need to entice individuals to take time out of their day to leave you a review, but while you may offer them a deal or discount, you should never bribe them for positive reviews since all of your testimonials should be authentic.
Social proof comes in many forms, but you must find the right ways to use social proof in your marketing efforts to build trust and credibility. Whether you have celebrity endorsements, media coverage, or tons of happy customers, you can use this to your advantage to make prospective customers take action on your website or social media channels to grow your business.
To leverage social proof effectively, it's important to actively seek and encourage customer feedback, engage with your audience on various platforms, highlight positive testimonials, reviews, and ratings, and integrate social proof elements into your marketing and branding strategies.