Social Proof Psychology – The How, What, Where, and When.

Ben Tippet

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people look to others for guidance on how to behave in a given situation. This can be especially powerful when it comes to making sales, as potential customers are more likely to trust the opinions of others and be influenced by their behavior.An example of this is if there is always a long line of people waiting outside a particular store near your home, regardless of the day or weather.

The line suggests that the store’s goods are in high demand and must be of high quality, as so many people are willing to wait to purchase them. Seeing the long line would likely make someone curious to try the store’s goods for themselves. Human beings are naturally inclined to observe and follow the actions of others, especially when making decisions or considering purchasing an item or service. Seeing someone else using or endorsing a product, such as an expert or celebrity, or observing others expressing enthusiasm for it, can increase the likelihood that we will purchase the product. This phenomenon is referred to as social proof in psychology.

Using social proof in marketing campaigns can be an effective way to increase their success. While it may not be possible to physically show potential customers a line of people waiting to purchase products online, there are other ways to utilise social proof in the digital realm.

What is social proof?

Psychologist Robert Cialdini brought attention to the concept of social proof in the 1980s. He explained that when people are uncertain about how to behave in a certain situation, they will often observe and follow the actions and behaviors of others. Essentially, it is natural for humans to take cues and guidance from those around us when we are unsure of how to act. In the realm of marketing, people often look to others for guidance and recommendations when considering purchasing a product.

This can include seeking out the opinions of friends and family, looking to industry leaders for insights on what products and services they use and trust, and considering the overall reputation of a brand based on the experiences and opinions of others. All of these factors can influence an individual’s decision to trust and purchase from a particular company.

How important is social proof in marketing?

Marketing professionals across various specialties, such as Google Ads, SEO, web design, and copywriting, all recognise the importance of social proof. To effectively convince people to purchase a product or service, it is important to show that others are already doing so and are satisfied with their experience. Need more proof? Take a gander at these stats:

  • 81% of consumers trust advice from friends and family more than advice from businesses (source: HubSpot)
  • 97% of consumers wouldn’t consider using a business with an average star rating of two stars or lower (source: BrightLocal)
  • 93% of potential buyers read reviews before making a purchase decision (source: Finances Online)
  • 87% of shoppers believe that social media helps them make shopping decisions (source: Smart Insights)

Examples of social proofing on your website

Here are a few ways you can use social proof to make more sales on your website:

  1. Testimonials: Using customer testimonials on your website or in your marketing materials can be a powerful way to build trust and credibility with potential customers.
  2. Case studies: Sharing detailed accounts of how your product or service has helped other businesses or individuals can be a powerful way to demonstrate its value.
  3. User-generated content: Encouraging customers to share their own experiences with your product or service on social media or review sites can create a sense of community and help build trust with potential customers.
  4. Expert endorsements: If you have industry experts or well-known figures who have endorsed your product or service, be sure to highlight those endorsements in your marketing efforts.
  5. Social media followers: Having a large following on social media can serve as a form of social proof, as it can indicate that others find your business or brand to be trustworthy and valuable.

By leveraging social proof, you can help build trust and credibility with potential customers and increase the likelihood of making a sale.

7 strategies to make more sales using social proof

Here are some strategies for utilising social proof in marketing efforts:

1. Collect reviews and ratings

When considering purchasing a kettle, which option would you be more likely to choose: one with a large number of 4.5 star ratings or one with a smaller number of 3 star ratings? The majority of people would likely choose the option with highest ratings. Reviews and ratings are important factors for consumers in many industries. A study by Bright Local found that 77% of people regularly or always consider reviews when making purchasing decisions, and only 3% of people would consider using a business with an average rating of two stars or lower. Need help getting reviews from your clients?

Read – How to ask your clients for Google reviews.

An effective tip:

Share particularly positive reviews on social media or include quotes on the website. Highlighting what others are saying about the brand can help to reinforce its positive reputation and support the company’s own claims about its quality.

2. Case studies

Case studies offer a detailed look at how a company has helped a particular client or how a product has had a significant impact on an individual’s life. For maximum impact, case studies should be thorough, specific, and showcase the company’s best work. To effectively convey the satisfaction and positive experiences of a client, it can be helpful to include direct quotes or video footage in the case study. It is important to carefully select clients for case studies who are already enthusiastic about the brand and willing to speak positively about their experiences. You can view our case studies for a little bit of insight into how these should be layed out.

3. Share your milestones

For some businesses, data and numbers can be perceived as reliable and trustworthy. In these cases, it can be helpful to clearly display information such as the number of sales made, the number of customers assisted, or the number of downloads of a particular software. This can serve as a form of social proof and help to build trust with potential customers. One way to utilise numbers as a form of social proof is to display running counters on the website or specific product pages, or to share milestones such as reaching a certain number of subscribers on social media. This can help to build trust and credibility with potential customers.

An effective tip:

To make data and statistics more effective as a form of social proof, it can be helpful to include personal anecdotes or testimonials alongside them. For example, a company might highlight the number of projects their products have been used in and then follow up with testimonials from satisfied customers. This helps to create a stronger sense of credibility and trustworthiness.

4. User generated content

If social media is a significant platform for a brand’s marketing efforts, collecting user-generated content (UGC) can be a useful strategy. UGC includes photos, videos, and reviews created by customers and sharing this content can serve as a form of social proof, effectively saying to visitors, “Look at all of these real people who use and enjoy our products.” One way to effectively gather user-generated content is to create a branded hashtag and encourage customers to use it when posting photos or videos of themselves using the brand’s products. The brand can then repost this content to generate excitement and show appreciation for their audience.

5. Display brand logos

If a company works with well-known industry figures or stocks reputable brands in their shop, it can be helpful to prominently display these logos on the website. This can help to associate the company’s brand with respected and established names in the industry and demonstrate to visitors that the company is also reputable and trustworthy.

6. Awards and achievements

Sometimes it can be difficult for a brand to self-promote. However, if the company has received awards, certificates, or other accolades for their work, it can be helpful to showcase these achievements. This can serve as a form of social proof and demonstrate to the audience that the brand has been recognised and validated by industry professionals.

7. Expert Collaboration

If an expert in a particular industry endorses a product or recommends a company’s services, it can be very influential to potential customers, particularly in industries like healthcare, finance, and IT where credibility is especially important because of the EAT algorithm. Gaining an expert endorsement may require significant networking efforts, but it can be a highly effective form of social proof if successful. Collaborating with an expert can have an even greater impact on social proof. For example, a company could conduct an experiment with an expert using their product or invite an expert to write a guest blog post on a topic relevant to their industry. By gaining the endorsement of an authority figure, a brand can strengthen its own credibility and authority in the field.

Conclusion

In order to be successful in marketing, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of consumer psychology and what drives their behaviours. Social proof psychology can be a useful tool for businesses at any stage, but it is important to continually utilise these tactics in order to achieve long-term results. 

People want to see what others are saying about a brand currently, rather than 5 years ago. If you need help implementing a digital marketing strategy that gets excellent results for your brand, contact us today. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses across Australia hit their growth goals, and we’d love to help you too.  Find your digital edge today.

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