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Social Proof 101: How To Use It In Marketing

A group of people sitting in an auditorium learning about social proof in marketing.

Social proof is a marketing tactic that every brand should be looking to employ. It can drastically increase brand awareness, leads, and revenue. It takes time to nurture a solid customer base that loves your product or service and effort, but it pays dividends in the long term.

What is Social Proof, and Why is it important?

Social proof forms a relationship between a brand and its consumers, typically via social media. When launching a social proof campaign, the goal is generally to increase the number of leads and sales a business generates. Still, social proof can increase engagement on platforms, develop brand awareness (sometimes outside of your current reach), and socially build the business’s reputation.

A social proof campaign requires the brand to take time to understand its audience genuinely, get to know its customers, and form personal relationships with them. This sounds unachievable at scale but could be as straightforward as interacting with customers on social media, such as replying to a tweet. Rather than focusing on the minutia, consider the broader picture and ensure that your audience is in mind when creating each post for social media. If you’re worried about the image quality of your social proof, you can rest assured that using an image upscaler will solve your concerns.

The 8 Types of Social Proof

We’ll explore eight strands of social proof in this article. According to some experts, there are far more strands that you can explore, but these are the most commonplace methods of using social proof in modern marketing.

An Expert

When an expert picks out your product or service and reviews it positively, this is social proof at its best. It’s why restaurants are desperate for critics to visit their establishment; with positive praise from a well-known figure, sales can explode, not least because thousands of people will value their opinion. It’s important to know that, especially in the restaurant example, positive praise works wonders, but negative can ruin businesses.

The Celebrity

With tens of millions of followers, mega influencers on social media can deliver significant social proof for brands. Many celebrities will promote products for a fee; this somewhat diminishes the quality of the social evidence but still goes a long way. If a star organically picks up on a brand and talks about it, this is top-quality social proof.

User Reviews

When someone who has genuinely used your product reviews it, either on your website or a third-party site, these testimonials are a massive vote of confidence in the product or service you are offering. They have the highest impact on independent platforms.

Credentials or Accreditations

Simply belonging to a public or awarding body can impact social proof should it be a body that is well respected and known by your customers.

Organic Media

When websites not directly linked to yours begin to link to yours as either a recommendation or a mention of services offered, it passes on kudos from them to you. In this case, often, the backlink is excellent for SEO too.

Social Shares

When individuals on social media share your posts, they show that they align with your views (if it’s a share on a blog post or article) or that they like your product. These shares can be all that some people need to purchase from you, especially if your product goes viral.

FOMO

Fear of missing out significantly impacts people; they never want to be the person who misses out, so if many of their friends are seen purchasing a particular product, they will want in too.

Friends and Family

Friends and family sharing their thoughts dramatically impact our buying choices. These are the people we care about and trust the most. Therefore we hold their opinion in high regard and tailor our purchases accordingly.

7 Ways to Use Social Proof in Your Marketing

Bring In The Experts

Experts are often willing to share their opinion; it doesn’t have to be about your product specifically. Hosting a roundtable where experts can share their views means that your brand naturally picks up some of its kudos. The best outcome would be if they positively mentioned your product or service, but sometimes being associated with them will be enough to build a following and grow your social proof.

Be Thankful

If your followers mention you or your name crops up in conversation, it is always worth dropping them a line to say thanks. Many businesses automate this where if their brand is mentioned, they have a script that automatically replies; this can be incredibly dangerous if the mention is negative. If your social media team can handle this manually, you’ll see a great response to simply showing thanks. A humble company is a great company.

Shout About Milestones

These milestones could be within your business, such as “We’re proud to now have 100,000 users on our platform,” or they could be based on social media, “Thank you to all 50,000 followers that we have on Twitter!” These posts show that you are thankful for the people involved with or following your business. 

Build A Brand Ambassador Army

Brand ambassadors are those within your user base who genuinely love your product and can’t stop talking about it. They are likely already doing great work for you organically, but if you can find them and incentivize their job to speak passionately about your brand, even more, you’ll be a winner. Brand ambassadors should always feel organic; heavy use of paid influencers isn’t that different from using paid ads, and people hate ads.

Launch A User-Generated Content Campaign

User-generated content is great! Your audience is creating social content for you, and it’s all the better when they do so while tagging you. Taking part in a UGC competition or trending hashtag can hugely influence people’s views on a brand and sometimes sway them enough to purchase from you.

Ask For Reviews

Many people won’t leave a review simply because they forgot, can’t be bothered, or didn’t know where to do so. If you ask them for a review and give them a specific place to do so, they are far more likely to do so. This review can then be used on your website and in social campaigns, plus it acts as social proof sitting there online for everyone to see.

Reply To People

The last way to use social proof in your marketing and arguably the simplest. Taking the time to reply to people is a straightforward way to earn social evidence. If someone posts to you, or @’s you, take the time to respond to them. Prospects will see that you’re an engaged brand with a human side. Ignoring posts makes you seem like you don’t care, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve.

Key Takeaways 

Social proof is compelling; it can lift brands from obscurity to the forefront of people’s minds in a straightforward campaign. Social proof can be a powerful tool by running right and nurtured in the right way. All it takes is time to build and grow relationships.

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