Social Proof, also know as Social Influence is a vitally important concept that plays a big role in the conversions that happen on your site – if you have implemented the proper elements.
Social Proof/Influence boils down to people looking for cues on what to do, how to act or what action to take based on what others are doing. While we pride ourselves on individuality, humans also find a great measure of comfort in numbers. Knowing someone blazed the trails before us and took the same action makes it easier for us to make the decision to proceed also.
Think of all the commercials telling us that “4 out of 5 dentists agree” – that’s social proof. We now know that a group outside of ourselves have made a decision, which makes it easier for us to follow. So you can see how Social Proof can impact a business from that one example alone.
Social Proof also taps into our fear of missing out (#fomo). If everyone else is doing it, it has to be good so I certainly don’t want to miss out.
Social proof comes in many different formats, with the most common being:
- Storytelling – telling a story to share the experiences of the people that have already used your product or service
- Video or written testimonials – these lend the most credibility since real life people are putting their name and image on the line
- Reviews – also powerful, because it’s in their own words and there is usually some validating information, like city, state or full name
- Case Studies – these follow the same premise of storytelling, however they tend to be more factual in nature
- Comments on posts that indicate people are interested in what you have to say and offer
- Social engagement numbers including your subscribers, followers, fans, tweets, likes, and other social shares
- Statistics (while stats can be and often are manipulated, there is still trust built by sharing data – especially if it can be validated by a third party)
- Imagery (of people using a product or services) – this is also powerful because it’s indisputable proof of product/service usage (and hopefully enjoyment)
Gathering and presenting social proof requires some creativity and effort. Time very well spent though. With over 70% of Americans stating they look at product reviews before making a purchase, it makes it pretty hard to ignore reviews.
Give your site, your social profiles and your various marketing campaigns an overhaul by introducing Social Proof.
- Add images to make testimonials, comments and stories more believable and more powerful.
- Get specific in your case studies and storytelling. We are wired to like things that “resemble” ourselves. So naturally, when reading reviews, our brains place more value on those people we deem to be the most like us. Take the time to outline your buyer personas and capture a moment where they described a specific pain that they solved with your product/service.
- Use storytelling. We are designed to look for the message or moral of a story and we also look for ourselves in stories. Getting a site visitor to read content where they both recognize themselves or their pain point and where they accept the message or moral of the story is that your product/service is the solution to their problem, is like hitting the jackpot. Think about it. Would you rather see 5 stars next to a product or a detailed case study of how and why something worked and what the outcome was? Of course it depends what the product/service is and you want to use both formats but for your best sellers or higher ticket items, pull out the big guns. And in case you aren’t sold on the concept yet, stories are persuasive and more trustworthy than stats because we are more likely to remember a story and not the stats.
- Use Influencers to achieve the “Halo Effect”: An “influencer” has already established a reputation and a following so it stands to reason that anything they are involved in or promoting is seen in a better light by association. Connecting yourself to people or brands with credibility, transfer some of that credibility and trust to you by association.
- Use Social Widget to display your social networks and engagement numbers. If you can demonstrate a large follower base and engagement, it is more likely that you offer real value, in the mind of your potential site visitors.
- Use Case Studies to show what other people who were just like your prospects are now experiencing as a result of making a decision to buy your products/service. If you see enough of these sorts of case studies you start to see the outcome as a forgone conclusion. Make this purchase and the result is yours, because it has happened to so many other people after buying. The power lies in the quality of the case study and how impressive the details are, however to create the “forgone conclusion” response, you need quantity as well.
- Use Blogs and Social Media: Comments are indicators that enough people are paying attention to what you are saying and are moved to comment. The same applies to the Facebook “like” and twitter “tweet” buttons and the Digg and Stumble buttons, and the Pinterest “Pin” button.
It’s time to gather your social proof – after all your competitors are already doing it! (Boom, just used fomo AND social influence on you!)
Chances are you already have built up some social proof equity. Have you received positive feedback from customers via email who have benefited from your product/service? Turn that into your next case study!
Do you have a lot of comments on a particular Blog post? Great – use that. If not, get that comment function enabled and push that content out there with request for people to comment.
Let’s look at some real world examples of Social Proof in action: