Psychology of Social Proof Marketing: How to Use It in Your Business

Psychology of Social Proof Marketing: How to Use It in Your Business

How do you convince your customers to buy? Marketing techniques have been evolving over the years, but one of the most effective ways to do so remains social proof marketing. It leverages your psychology to convince people to purchase your product or service. Read on to learn more about how you can use the psychology of social proof marketing to boost your business.

Social proof marketing, also known as social media marketing, refers to the use of social media and other popular networks to spread your brand name and encourage people to purchase your products or services. Social proof is one of the most powerful methods you can use to market your business, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood.

Many people believe that you need an enormous amount of followers to gain any kind of traction with your marketing. But in reality, all you need are two things: an interesting product or service and a sound strategy for how to get your target audience to pay attention to it. In this guide, you’ll learn all things about the psychology of social proof marketing and how to use it to your advantage when you market your business both online or offline.

What is Social Proof?

Credit card with the words "The Meaning of Life."
When businesses say it, it’s marketing. But when customers say it, it’s social proof.

Social proof is a psychological principle that says people will be more likely to do something if they know other people are doing it. This is used in marketing, especially on social media and in advertising. 

Companies use social proof by getting celebrities or influencers to post something on social media and tagging their products, which can lead people who follow those accounts to buy their products. Social proof has been proven time and again as one of the most effective ways for companies to get consumers interested in buying a product.

Who is Using Social Proof?

Social proof is everywhere in everyday life. Have you ever found yourself wondering whether a store has customers when you’re considering going in? Have you watched how others react to a movie before seeing it for yourself? 

Or have you wondered how much traffic a business gets on its website after noticing that it has hundreds or thousands of followers? There are many other examples, but these serve as illustrative social proof marketing examples—we often look at others around us, see their actions, and then copy them.

What are the 5 Types of Social Proof?

Social proof can be beneficial or detrimental to you depending on how you use it in your business and in your marketing efforts. Below are the 5 types of social proof you need to know about and why each one matters to your business.

Testimonials

Testimonials are an excellent form of social proof that gives your audience a third-party opinion that your product or service is worth using. If a fan or follower feels they know you, they’re more likely to believe what other people say about you on social media. Offer free swag in exchange for customer reviews and testimonials—and don’t be afraid to ask for them! Just make sure it doesn’t sound like a hard sell when you do.

Case Studies

Case studies give you third-party validation for your product or service. They’re an easy way to demonstrate your product’s value without bragging about your accomplishments or relying on self-testimonials. When possible, get testimonials from industry experts and customers who have especially high profiles (like CEOs, celebrities, and authors). This type of social proof will also help attract new customers because they’ll see that a big name is already using what you offer.

Media Mentions

Mosaic of names of social media platforms
Each media mention impacts your personal brand. So, make sure you establish how you want to be known.

Media mentions are simply any time your brand, business, product, or service is mentioned in a publication. If it’s covered in a newspaper, on a TV news segment, or even in a book—it’s media mentions. Reputation management professionals pay particularly close attention to media mentions because they reflect a public opinion about your brand and can affect sales, customer loyalty, and other vital metrics.

Surveys/Poll Results

This is a powerful form of social proof, particularly in online marketing. Ask your target audience questions via surveys and polls: how many times per week do you dine out? Or what kind of restaurants do you prefer? You can then use their responses in testimonials, press releases, and newsletters.

To get the most out of your polls and surveys, aid it with a social media tool that supports online campaigns, such as the one in this Denim Social review

Awards

The next time you’re trying to attract new clients, make sure you have at least a few awards or recognitions hanging on your wall. Awards are instant social proof—people who read your resume (or visit your website) will see that you’ve been recognized for some type of achievement and instantly want to work with you.

What is Social Proof in Psychology?

Social proof is when we take cues from others to help guide our behavior. These cues range from subtle ones that we’re not even aware of, like mimicking someone’s body language, all the way up to blatant signals that are so obvious they almost seem fake. Either way, social proof plays a big role in how people decide what’s right and wrong—whether it’s ethical or unethical. 

What is an Example of Social Proof in Marketing?

Social proof helps assure potential customers that what they’re doing or buying is also being done or bought by others—which naturally makes them want to do it, too. Here are some social proof marketing examples you might want to adopt for your business. 

Humans do what other humans do

The principle of social proof in marketing is behind some of history’s most memorable fads. The idea is that, if someone else is doing something, you’re more likely to do it, too. A great social proof example: look at how many people wear Crocs, or how often your friends share something on Facebook. It’s a powerful marketing tool because it makes people feel like they aren’t alone.

Buyer behavior is contagious

Customers are susceptible to social proof, which is a powerful psychological phenomenon. When you observe what other people are doing, you often want to do it, too. A study from Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman suggests that up to 95% of all purchasing decisions are made based on social proof. Again, the logic is if others are doing it, you’d also want to try it. Humans love being part of a crowd.

Influencers are important

A woman looking at the mirror
True influence is about leveraging authenticity.

Word-of-mouth advertising is still one of today’s most powerful marketing tools. The key to great word-of-mouth, though, is having a product or service that people actually like and are willing to talk about. Research shows that over half of all purchases are influenced by social media and user reviews. That makes influencers an important factor for marketers to consider when building a brand strategy.

The concept of collective intelligence

In 1955, researcher Francis Galton noticed that when several people independently answer a question, their average answer is more accurate than any individual could be. In 1981, he coined a term for it: The Wisdom of Crowds. While we’ve known about social proof for some time now, collective intelligence is something you can specifically capitalize on by harnessing your audience’s expertise to spread awareness about your product or service.

Clickbait articles are effective

Many people automatically close an ad or pop-up that’s obviously trying to sell them something, so don’t try to be subtle. This is particularly true if you’re promoting your business with social media or email marketing. The more direct you are about your offer, and what you expect people to do next, the more likely they are to take action on it. So, make sure to create effective clickbait articles. 

Customers want to be successful

When you display social proof, you’re not only showing off your popularity—you’re also sending a message to consumers that they should be confident in their purchase. By displaying testimonials and case studies, you’re creating a positive experience for your consumer. You’re giving them confidence that what they buy from you will work for them, too. Consumers want to be successful, so let them know how easy it can be.

Liking, favoriting, and commenting make customers want to buy

According to statistics by Oberlo, people who say they liked a product on Facebook are 86% more likely to buy it. Moreover, Instagram users who commented on or liked a photo were 25% more likely to follow through with a purchase than those who didn’t. In short, people trust social proof, especially when it comes from their peers.

Gating your content gives users a sense of exclusivity

Want to get people to do something? Make them feel special. In marketing, one way you can do this is by gating content. By getting them to sign up for your email list or watch a video, users will often think they’re joining an exclusive club—one that other people want to be a part of and where they’ll get content before anyone else. It also makes them feel smart for having found something special, leading them to feel like joining in and participating themselves.

Why is Social Proof Effective in Marketing?

Social proof is a marketing concept that suggests our actions are based on what we believe are other people’s actions. It can be applied to almost every aspect of your business and used in many different ways. 

Whether you’re trying to get customers to sign up for a mailing list, download an e-book, or purchase a product, social proof can help you boost your conversion rates by making customers feel like their decision is validated by what others have done before them. There are two main types of social proof marketing: explicit and implicit (or indirect). 

Explicit social proof includes testimonials from happy customers and reviews from credible sources, such as publications or organizations. On the other hand, implicit social proof comes from subtle cues that suggest other people have already taken action and found success with your business.

Why Consumers Turn to Social Proof

Two people using smartphones
Word of mouth is very powerful. So, build a great experience and make customers tell each other about your brand.

Social proof is an important concept in marketing because it explains why consumers turn to their peers for advice when making buying decisions. Social proof can be found in so many places, including social media and product reviews on retail websites. The idea behind social proof is that if other people are doing something, it must be okay or even desirable. 

When you see signs that someone else uses or likes a certain product, you’re more likely to feel better about using or liking that product, too. This is called peer influence—and is basically the reason why more and more consumers are turning to social proof. 

Tips for Creating Your Own Form of Social Proof

You may not always rely on third-party websites to add social proof to your own. However, you can use several methods on your website to add this type of credibility to your product or service. With these 3 tips, you can attract new customers and help build trust with current ones in no time.

Add audience comments

When your business is new, there’s no way to know if people are visiting your website or social media pages. Having an established community commenting on and interacting with your posts is one of the best ways to increase traffic and reach. You don’t need hundreds of comments to gain credibility. In fact, it may even work against you if you have too many right away.

Put a call to action

Call to Actions or CTAs are an integral part of any website because it allows your users to take action. Whether that’s filling out a contact form, subscribing to a mailing list, or purchasing a product, every site needs CTAs for success. Without them, your potential leads may be unaware of what you want them to do next.

Add quotes from influencers

Getting quotes from key influencers within your field is a great way to add social proof to your brand. This will also get people talking about you. As a result, it leads to further growth in your following and potentially new customers.

To find and collaborate with some of the best influencers on the internet, use the tool in this Mention review. 

Boost Your Business with the Psychology of Social Proof Marketing Now

Leading sources for positive and negative reviews
Online reviews are one of the strongest basis for an effective social proof strategy. | Source: QuickSprout

Although it’s not a new tactic, many businesses are still overlooking how psychology plays a huge role in their marketing efforts. The best ways to use social proof to your business’ advantage are all enumerated above. You just need to strategize well and take action. 

Good social proof marketing can make your company more trustworthy and credible. It can also help you with search engine optimization and get you noticed for your unique approach. So, maximize this marketing strategy now to boost your business. 

Want to explore advanced marketing strategies? Read this article: “How To Leverage Metaverse Marketing Strategies (With Examples).”