Marketing Specialist &
(WordPress) Website Developer

18 ways to showcase Social Proof in your marketing

In today’s competitive world, the business world is more than a competition for attention. It’s a competition for trust.

With all the other alternatives available, why would a customer choose your company?

Social proof can be the tipping point that brings people over the edge and into the shopping cart.

What is social proof?

Imagine yourself travelling to a new city and you’re looking for a place to eat.

You look up “Restaurants near me” and find a 4.4 star restaurant that’s a 5 minute walk away. You have dinner there.

The next day, you’re texting with a friend back home about last night’s dinner. He then recommends another place with a fantastic ambience.

You decide to check it out that evening.

In this example, we saw 2 types of social proof.

Social proof is a persuasion tactic that showcases the actions and results of users to encourage new users to follow in their footsteps.

In other words, our decisions are influenced by the opinions of others who have been there and done that.

Humans are social creatures. We trust the opinions of the people around us, and this influences how we interact (or don’t interact) with people, places, and companies.

Social proof reduces the risk of doing business. By demonstrating social proof, companies can build trust and crush concerns among new prospects.

Additionally, social proof can trigger the fear of missing out (FOMO). If enough social proof is present, we can question ourselves for not doing what everyone else is doing.

This need to fit in is a powerful psychological driver that drives many people to purchase or consume things they may not always need. For businesses, this fear of missing out is highly effective for increasing revenues.

With that said, how do we establish social proof?

Here are 18 types of social proof that your business can use:

1. Wisdom of crowds: How many people (are using / have purchased) your offer?

Wisdom of the crowds relies on the choices and opinions of the majority. The more that people engage or trust a brand, the easier it is for others to trust it.

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2. Ratings: What are the ‘scores’ of your product or service?

Ratings are quantifiable numbers that can be stamped on the quality of a product, service, or brand.

Think of movies being rated by IMDb scores, or restaurants being rated by customers on Yelp.

Would you go watch a 2.4 star movie? Or a 1.5 star restaurant? Very unlikely, right? 

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Ratings for Spotify on Google Play

3. Reviews: What have your users said about you?

Often used together with ratings, reviews include the thoughts and opinions of customers.

When was the last time you had to buy something? 
Did you look at what people have said about the product before purchasing?
Did they help you make an informed decision about your purchase?

Reviews can be uploaded directly on your website (eg. a product page) or on external third party sites (eg. Trustpilot)

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Ratings and Reviews of an electronics store in Rotterdam

4. Testimonials: What have your users said about you? (But longer!)

Reviews and testimonials are similar, with one key difference. Testimonials are more in-depth.

Testimonials generally provide more information about what to expect when engaging with a brand.

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Review of HappierLeads on Capterra

5. Social Media: How’s your following on social media?

Similar to wisdom of the crowds, having a large follower base or high engagement rate can signal that your brand produces quality content that people love.

6. Bandwagon: How many of your customer’s connections (are using / have purchased) your product or service?

The bandwagon effect is a powerful psychological tool where a person conforms to the behavior of their social circle or industry. This is sparked by an internal behavior to not be excluded in our personal and professional lives.

For example, assume 8 / 10 tech companies use Microsoft Teams instead of Slack. A new tech company may be significantly more inclined to use Microsoft Teams as their default communications platform.

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Here is Gymshark’s Instagram. While I may not follow them, over 5.3 million people do, including 24 people I know.

7. User Generated Content (UGC): Let people produce content about your product

Your customers can be your biggest fans. Customers sometimes create content which features your brand on their social media platforms. This is called user generated content.

8. Referrals: Are your customers talking about you?

Your existing customers can be your best source of new customers. If they like your product or service, they might recommend it to others who can benefit.

74% of people state that suggestions from their friends and family are key to influencing their purchases. 

9. Influencers: Are there any famous people using your offer?

Similar to friends and family, we trust people who we recognize. Given the digital age, it is easier than ever to build a fanbase on the internet.

Influencers are the modern version of featuring celebrities in advertising. They could range from thought leaders on LinkedIn, YouTube stars, and popular Instagram or TikTok accounts.

10. Expert endorsement: Get feedback from experts in your industry

Experts can be seen as more authoritative influencers. They have authority in the industry, thus their reviews can be seen as more beneficial and objective.

Are you familiar with the claim that 9 out of 10 dentists prefer Colgate toothpaste? This is an example of expert endorsement.

11. Popularity signals: Top rated, best seller, most popular, etc

A popularity signal is a visual way to indicate that a product or service is popular. These indicators can influence the choices of new customers who are unsure which option to choose.

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Top gifted products on Amazon.de

12. Featured: Where have we been featured?

You’re probably familiar with the “New York Times Best Sellers,” a list of top-selling books in the United States.

These books are popular due to previously mentioned types of social proof – such as wisdom of the crowd, ratings, and reviews. The prestige of the ranking institution adds more authority and validity to the popularity of these books.

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New York Times Bestsellers List, July 2021

13. Trust seals & certifications: Are we verified by an authorizing body?

Trust seals indicate that a product or service has been screened and verified to be authentic or safe.

A common example would be the logos of payment options on the checkout page to indicate safe checkout.

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14. Credibility: What makes you qualified? 

Credibility can be built with certifications and experience. For example, an accountant can be ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) certified. An accountant could also have 10 years of experience.

In both cases, the accountant has the qualifications to be an accountant.

15. Transformation: What is the before and after of using your brand?

For many products and services, people like to visualize what the end result would be if they decide to purchase that product or service.

Transformation is a snapshot of what happens before and after engaging with a brand.

Consider the last time you went for a haircut. Before you walked in, your hair looked a certain way. After walking out, your hair looked different. A side by side comparison of the two is a transformation snapshot.

16. Case studies: How have you brought results in the past?

Building on the transformation, a case study (or customer story) talks about the journey a customer faces before engaging with a brand all the way to the results they achieve afterwards.

Click here to read more about how to write a case study.

17. Partners: Who have we done business with?

If you have done business with a person or company with a recognizable brand, showcasing them on your marketing materials can be a signal of quality and trust.

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Airtable displaying their partner portfolio.

18. Sample: Can you give them a teaser of what you can deliver?

Has someone ever offered a glass of a drink you’ve never tried before? After a few sips, you know you want more of this drink in the future?

A sample allows users to try something to see if they like it or not. Examples of samples can include a discovery call, free trial, or a lower cost version of a premium product.

Social proof can be integrated in various parts of a marketing strategy – from your social media profiles to your website.

Here are some best practices for displaying social proof:

  • Showcase your best numbers
  • Place emphasis on results you can bring and how you’ve achieved them before
  • Highlight your partners, reviews, testimonials
  • Respond with your reviews, even the negative ones
  • Indicate popular products or pricing plans
  • Sprinkle testimonials throughout your content marketing pieces

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Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading!

Hi there, thanks for reading my post. I hope you found some value and useful insights to grow your business!

Do you need additional help with your marketing and digital strategy? Please feel free to reach out using the form below.

Cheers,
Dheeraj