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  • Julie Jones

What is social proof, and how can I use it to improve my business?

Social proof is essentially an idea that people or consumers are psychologically influenced by others'

behavior, and then emulate that behavior or pattern–such as purchasing a popular item. Some attribute this to FOMO (fear of missing out) and others to a deep-rooted human desire to fit in or be accepted. Either way, we’ve all seen it happen. People want things they see others already have.

Social proof is also associated with the tendency to determine an opinion based on social evidence–for example, selecting a product based on online reviews.

Why do you think we are so swayed by social proof?

Well, let’s say you are shopping for a new blender. You go online and see two in your price range with identical descriptions. One blender has 500 positive reviews, and the other has none. You will likely select the blender with positive social proof. Why? Because we trust people, like verified customers, who have no reason to lie or exaggerate. We assume the product must be quality, because 500 people can’t all be wrong, can they? This is why social proof is so important when marketing your business. It is a way to let the public feel informed about your products and services through an unrelated and unbiased third party.

Types of social proof

Studies show that the majority of consumers make their purchasing decisions based on recommendations, reviews, and referrals. It is harder to trust a paid advertisement than it is to trust the words of a friend, colleague, or even an influencer we admire. So where do we get our social proof?

Experts. Many of us turn to industry leaders or social influencers (trusted to be experts in their field or brand) to help us decide on a purchase. If someone we respect has an opinion, we tend to listen and respect that opinion.

Celebrities. Celebrity endorsement is one of the oldest marketing tricks of the trade. “If you want to be like _______, you should buy our product.” These can be paid or unpaid endorsements or mentions. Unpaid celebrity mentions typically hold more weight, though.

Users. User feedback in the form of reviews, testimonials, and ratings can make or break a business. Having no reviews at all can drive customers to your competitors because they may question the legitimacy of your company. Getting positive feedback, and then sharing it with potential customers, is essential for online success.

Wisdom of the crowds. The more customer feedback and mentions you get, the more reputable your business appears to be. It promotes the idea that the product or service MUST be quality if so many people have been raving about it.

Wisdom of your friends. We trust our friends, their standards, and their opinions. If a friend recommends a product, we generally take the recommendation as genuine.

How to use Social Proof in marketing

Testimonials. Share the reviews, ratings, and testimonials you get from past customers to your business’s social media. Quantity matters. Consumers want to see a large body of satisfied and returning customers.

Awards/accolades. If your business or products have gained accolades, show it off! Let the people see what you’ve achieved. You want your potential customers to associate your business with success.

User-generated content (UGC). Create branded hashtags so your past or future customers can mention you online. User-generated content is FREE advertisement. Take advantage! Encourage the public to keep your business relevant.

Influencers. These respected “experts” are typically paid to recommend your products and are proven incredibly useful in increasing brand awareness.

Customer base. Show the public how many products you’ve sold, and how many fans you have. Popularity equals sales.

Integrations. If you have a product or service that works well with another trusted product or service, try to make a connection. Showing compatibility with an established and respected ally can benefit both, so long as a mutual bond has been made to promote the relationship.

JGM is here to help

You can boil social proof down to a psychological phenomenon, but it isn’t hard to understand why it works. If you’d like to make the most of your business by upping your social media marketing and incorporating social proof into your strategy, consider working with James Garris Marketing (JGM). Our social media team is highly skilled and knows how to inspire your followers to not only engage with your business, but promote and support it as well.

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