Social Proof: What It Means, And What It Could Mean To Your Business

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Social proof is the concept of people following the actions of other people; the idea is that because so many people are acting in a certain way, it must be the right thing to do. Online marketing companies have seized on social proof as a way for their clients to do better business by placing a greater emphasis on things like user reviews, testimonials and case studies. These three things are social proof in marketing form; proof that certain people have acted in a specific way by purchasing a product or service. By making this widely known, potential customers who see reviews, testimonials and case studies are more likely to follow suit.

Broadly speaking, there are six types of social proof.   

  1. Expert: This form of social proof is when an expert in your industry recommends your products or services or is associated with your brand. An endorsement from an authority figure has always been seen as a formidable marketing strategy, so as far as social proof goes, this is a long-standing and highly effective example.
  2. Celebrity: A celebrity endorsement is a classic example of social proof at its best. Like expert endorsement, this is a tried and true marketing strategy.
  3. The roar of the crowd: A type of social proof where a very large group of people is seen to be endorsing your brand. A prime example is showing off tens of thousands of followers on your social media platforms.
  4. Friends know best: This type of social proof is when a potential customer sees their friends approve your product. Obviously, this doesn’t work on such a large scale as the wisdom of the crowd, but we all know how friends influence friends so this is highly effective.
  5. Certification: This type of social proof is based on being given the seal of approval by an authoritative figure in your industry. A good case in point is being given the blue checkmark on global giants Twitter or Facebook.
  6. User: User social proof occurs when your current customers recommend your products and services based on their experiences with them. Classic examples are positive comments on your social media, or high scores on review sites.

Left to our own devices, we struggle to make our own decisions about almost anything to do with our daily lives. A prime example is arriving in a city you’re not familiar with and trying to decide what to have for dinner. When strolling through streets you don’t know, and with no in-depth knowledge of the local dining scene, selecting a decent restaurant might represent something of a dilemma – until you pass one eatery full of happy diners. All those people in the one place? It must be good. That’s where you’ll eat! That’s social proof in action – the “proof” element is the feeling that if a whole lot of other people are doing it, then it must be right.

When you use social proof in your digital marketing you can influence potential customers to make purchasing decisions different to the ones they might have made if they were relying solely on their own judgment. That’s why online marketing companies are advising their customers to take another look at the benefits of social proof and become leaders in the art of following.