Do you often avail of services online? If your answer is ‘yes’, then you may have looked at their client testimonies to check if their services can satisfy your needs and preferences. Or perhaps you’ve wanted to visit an establishment and checked the reviews online before visiting the place? What you are doing is looking for social proof of that business or establishment.
What Exactly Is Social Proof?
Social proof is often referred to as a psychological phenomenon. It is a term that was first coined in 1984 by Robert Cialdini in his book, ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, having first referred to it as ‘social influence’. When people are uncertain about something, they will observe and mimic the actions of people around them. Since then, this social phenomenon has been adopted by many other industries, including media, marketing, academic institutions, and yes, small businesses.
In essence, social proof is proof-based marketing. It is a collaboration between your business and your customers or clients. How satisfied were they with your services? Did you provide them with their exact needs? Social proof is an essential part of today’s modern marketing strategies because you can use it to build trust with potential long-term clients and increase your revenue. In this article, we’ve listed the various forms of social proof and the effect that they have on your business.
When your business website displays testimonials, you are giving prospective customers a chance to learn about your products or services from the customers you’ve served in the past. Think of it as a vote of confidence for your business. All types of testimonials can provide a positive impact on your business, since new customers will see what they can expect when availing of your products or services, and you—as the business owner— will have a glimpse of how your services have impacted your customers as well.
Just like testimonials, reviews are a great way for your prospective consumers to evaluate your services using the experiences of your previous customers. Local businesses can enable ratings and reviews on certain social media pages. When you encourage your customers to leave a rating or review of your page, it empowers their ability to voice their opinions about your services. In today’s marketing strategies, it’s pretty common to display customer reviews on your website’s homepage for social proof. Additionally, you can add reviews to your ads, product or service pages, and even your email signatures!
Small businesses often have to rely on word of mouth to spread awareness of their business to potential customers. This method, while simple, should not be taken lightly. When a potential customer sees someone they trust recommend your business, then some of that trust will be automatically transferred to you because you were given a stamp of approval by someone that they can rely on. Additionally, when people start to notice that many other people are talking about your business in a positive light, then they will also have a positive first impression of your services or products and become interested in what you have to offer. When enough people recommend your services or products, you will have generated the “wisdom of the crowd” as your social proof.
Now that you’ve added value to your product or service with the help of testimonials and reviews, what comes next? It’s time to earn your potential consumer’s trust. To do that, you must possess credentials for your company to put your customer’s minds at ease. You can promote your credentials, such as awards and certifications, to showcase your company’s reliability and high-quality services. You may even display how many satisfied customers you’ve served so far, as part of your credentials.
This type of social proof serves as a stamp of approval coming from an authoritative figure. For example, if your business has a social media page on Facebook or Twitter, you’d want to have that blue checkmark next to your company’s name to signify that your account is validated. This simple symbol on social media is often reserved for celebrities and top brands in the industry. Having that check mark means that you are influential or interesting enough to be awarded the checkmark. Moreover, having this blue checkmark makes you rank higher on that platform’s search engine, and gives you access to features that will help in the way that you engage with your customers online.
Being featured in the press is already a big achievement for some small and local businesses. Having the press publish an article about your brand, product, or service helps build awareness of your business. The online press may even feature backlinks to your website for potential customers. You can take it a step further by taking advantage of that press feature and highlighting it on your website’s homepage to let visitors know that your business is worth paying attention to because important people in the press are talking about you.
Anyone who has social media knows about influencers. These people are celebrities, regular people making videos at home, or entrepreneurs. Because influencers build a connection with their audience, the people watching them may feel like they’ve gotten to know the influencer that they follow, hence building a sense of trust. Because of this, influencers are people who have the ability to influence your target audience through their endorsements. When you collaborate with an influencer to produce a marketing campaign for your brand, you increase the awareness of your brand to a wider range of audiences.
There have been cases when reviews from famous influencers often felt like a review from a long-time, trusted friend. And because of that trust, they will also trust your business when they avail of your services. They may also provide recommendations for their own audience who are interested in your business. Keep in mind that you must find an influencer who aligns with the product or services that you’re offering. If the influencer that you partner with has 50,000, or even millions of followers on social media, then you’ll have the same amount of potential customers.
Endorsements From Industry Experts
Another great way to build social proof for your business is by connecting with experts in your industry. Let’s say you’re just starting your own website hosting company, then you may want to partner with an email marketing firm or a company that builds website form plug-ins. Why? Because it serves as an additional traffic flow to your business, and your partners will also gain benefits. Even though you are all different companies that want to reach the same target audience. When an expert endorses your services, your target audience will trust your company because someone more knowledgeable is speaking positively about your product or service.
Other ways you can work with experts in your industry is by collaborating with them on a social media event, such as live video discussions, so you can benefit from the expert’s influence, as well as give your own audience a chance to learn from experts in the industry. By doing so, you are adding value to your audience and helping them form a stronger sense of trust in your company.
Social Media Shares
Getting people to share your content on social media means that you are building awareness for your company in an effortless way. When people share your articles or posts on sites like Facebook or Twitter, you will be able to use this as social proof since it means that many people have gained an interest in your company, or many people trust in your company. In turn, this will promote confidence in your brand for your potential customers.
What’s next? Now that you know about the most common forms of social proof, how can you utilize them to the best of your advantage? We’re here to give you some ideas on how to make the most out of the social proof that you collect, and make them stand out on your website in a positive light. It isn’t enough to just collect social proof, you have to be creative and use them in ways that will encourage potential customers to avail of your products or service, and make your existing customers feel valued enough to inspire their loyalty.
Take Advantage of Every Photo Op
If you provide a product or service, you’d want to have ways to interact with your customers and make sure that you’re providing them with the services that meet their every need. You can take advantage of the reviews and testimonials section of your website to post pictures of your satisfied customers or showcase them on your website’s homepage. The great thing is that this method isn’t only limited to websites! If you have a physical establishment for your business, you can dedicate a spot in your establishment just for photos of your customers. Every new or prospective customer that enters your establishment will feel that you value your customers greatly.
Another way that you can utilize customer pictures is by using them in your ad campaigns, with permission from your customers, of course. Using real customers gives an authentic feel to your ads, giving your target audience a glimpse of what you and your brand can offer them. This approach promotes a sense of goodwill for your prospective customers.
Build a Community
By using the right combination of social proof, namely reviews, images, recommendations, and many others, you can take the next step to create a powerful brand community. Most successful businesses create a space for their most loyal and engaged customers to provide an informative and relevant source of feedback. This is a place where they can share customer experiences, their product reviews, and shared opinions regarding the service or products that you offer. By giving your customers a place to gather online, you are helping them form a sense of belonging, which can transform into an emotional bond to your brand, earning their trust and loyalty, and more revenue in repeat purchases.
This community will serve to empower other existing social proof you have for your business. Engaged members of your community may share product or service recommendations on their social media accounts, thereby introducing new customers to your brand. Other members of your community may write about your business in their personal blogs or do a YouTube video about how they benefited from your products and services. When you nurture your brand community, you have a group of people who will remain loyal to your services and who help your business grow into one of the most prominent businesses in your industry.
Many companies, including large corporations and small businesses, rely heavily on social proof to entice new customers and encourage the loyalty of their current ones. It is a powerful marketing tool that should not be ignored since it empowers your customers to voice their opinions and feedback about your company, thereby spreading awareness of your company and services to the masses. When you have the opportunity to have a direct line of communication with your customers, you should take that as a chance to build your social proof by engaging and forging a connection based on trust. If you are focused on providing your customers with high-quality customer services to boost their positive experience with your company, then you can acquire social proof more easily.
You can take advantage of various social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to interact or engage with your customers and target audience, and build a community within these social media platforms where like-minded people from your demographic can gather and discuss their opinions about your business, your services, and the impact that you’ve made in their lives. Additionally, because consumers — especially online consumers — are influenced by the recommendations and feedback of their fellow consumers, highlighting reviews and testimonials on your business’s website can help potential customers gain some insight onto the services that you offer, and the way that you value your customers. Authentic reviews from real customers influence your target demographic’s decision to avail of your products or services.