10 Ways to Leverage Social Proof

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Want to connect with the public more effectively? There’s nothing like social proof to earn a higher trust rating and grow your audience. In order to pull this off, it takes authenticity, effort, and a fair amount of know how when it comes to outreach.

If you feel like your social street cred it lacking, here are some tips to help leverage this tried-and-true form of influence marketing.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is all around us these days. It’s also called informational social influence, and it’s demonstrated in forms as simple as word-of-mouth recommendations or as complex as data-driven target marketing. It’s the buzz that surrounds your brand, the company you keep online, and how you use your social platforms to improve customer engagement.

It’s an art, but it takes some skill and knowledge of consumer psychology to make it work.

You see, people are driven by a need to belong. We all want to find our tribe. Social proof convinces consumers that they need something in their life because their friends and neighbors already have it. It poses the question “Don’t you want in on the fun, the savings, the life-enhancing properties of Brand X?”

Of course they do! All you need to convince them to go with your brand is to demonstrate how they, too, can be one of the happy people, the more together people, a part of the “In crowd”.

There are several types of social proof you can fold into your branding efforts. You may already be using some of them.

  • Expert proof from an authority in your field
  • User proof, such as testimonials or reviews
  • Celebrity proof from a well-known figure or online influencer
  • Crowd proof, as seen in our examples
  • Wisdom of friends proof, such as friend referrals or social media recommendations

Social Stats You Need to Know

According to research, 81 percent of mobile users research companies or products online before making buying decisions.

Where are they getting their information?

Many go straight to the website. But, the vast majority, just over 70 percent, in fact, read online reviews and customer comments before making up their minds. Publishing testimonials or fishing for likes and shares isn’t all there is to creating social proof.

It’s often more subtle than that.

Take a recent experiment published in The Washington Post. The objective was to cut down on AC use during the summer months with an ad campaign that involved placing signs in various locations.

One sign talked about monthly savings on electric bills, the second sign detailed how much greenhouse gas could be reduced per year, the third touted the possibilities of raising social consciousness, and the final sign relayed the percentage of people in the community already benefiting from using a fan instead of the AC.

What got the best response from the community? The one that put social pressure on people in the community to be like the majority of their neighbors. It was proof that everyone is doing it, so it must be good. One of the oldest and most effective examples in modern marketing is the sign under the big golden arches at McDOnald’s that tracks the number of burgers sold.

Not all social proof is valuable or useful, however. Some can even have a negative effect and unintended consequences. For example, a campaign that was created with the goal of encouraging more women to vote used the statistic “4 years ago, over 22 million single women did not vote.”

This campaign was a big fail. Why? Because, in an effort to convince more women to vote, they inadvertently made it look like a negative. A more effective campaign would have been to relay a high number of women who did vote, and the positive results of that level of turnout.

Here are 10 quick tips to help you generate and leverage social proof to build your brand.

1. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews

Every time you get good feedback from a customer, encourage them to leave a review of testimonial about their experience with your company.

2. Monitor Your Social Media Mentions

This involves researching the number of positive mentions on social media, which is also a great source of user and influencer proof. Don’t have the time for that? Hubspot has a tool that will crawl all of your platforms and do it for you.

3. Leverage Twitter

Tweets are a great way to get quotable blurbs to a wide audience. Every time someone tweets about your products or company, go on step further than re=tweeting by embedding their tweet on your website and other platforms. Here’s a guide for how to do it.

4. Make Brand Ambassadors Out of Employees

Few things express the value of a company like enthusiastic employees who are proud of where they work.

You can turn your staff into authentic and effective ambassadors by:

  • Creating a positive corporate culture
  • Making sure they’re fully informed about product lines and services
  • Encouraging them to share company news on their own social platforms
  • Creating an employee reward or other incentive plan

5. Collaborate With Your Peers

Get to know influential people in your industry or a related industry and create a collaboration that will expand your reach and generate social proof. This could be getting together to promote a cause, teaming up for a joint product release, or co-hosting an event or webinar.

6. Log and Post Social Media Likes and Shares

This taps into the “following the wisdom of the crowd” types of social proof. Aren’t you curious about a product or company that’s trending?

7. Use Video and Images

What would draw your eye more, a plain text quote or a photo with the quote emblazoned across the top or a captioned underneath? Pairing your social proof with a photo of the reviewer or a relevant video will help with SEO and spreading brand awareness.

8. Create a Brand Persona

Brand personas go one better than audience profiles by creating an image that looks like your target audience. This can be transformed into a character or mascot that’s relatable and effective at connecting with customers.

9. Share User-Created Content

Who doesn’t want to be in the spotlight every once in a while? Encourage customers to share photos of them using your product, launch essay contests and publicize the top entries, or find other creative ways of making your audience part of the action.

10. Tell a Story

Everyone loves a good story. Yours should hit customers in the feels, provide them with a glimpse of possibilities, or make you more relatable. Whatever it takes to connect with them on a personal level, as long as it’s authentic and honest.

Incorporate some of these tactics into your campaign and let us know how it goes.

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10 Ways to Leverage Social Proof