Consumers use the advice of others to decide what they buy. This is what psychologists, sociologists and now marketing experts call social proof , or consensus .
And it’s particularly powerful.
When did you buy something for the last time without reading the reviews left by customers who did it before you, without asking for an additional opinion or watching a “test” video on YouTube? According to a study published in 2018 by SEO Tribunal , up to 81% of smartphone users are researching the products or services they plan to buy on their phones. They look for recommendations, testimonials, opinions and other criticisms.
Most companies are already subject to this type of feedback on the Internet. Let’s see how you can take advantage of the social evidence they represent and use it to convince potential customers that you need to buy your products and services.
In this article you will learn more about:
- What is social proof?
- The 5 types of social evidence
- 4 ways to present social proof for marketing purposes
- Positive social proof Vs negative
- How to promote your business successfully through social proof
What is social proof?
“Social proof” – or “consensus” – is the name given to the psychological concept that a person tends to reproduce the behavior of a large group of individuals. The logic is as follows: if so many people behave in a certain way, then it is necessarily the right behavior to adopt. In Maslow’s Pyramid of Human Needs , being part of a group seals our need for belonging, having friends and close relationships.
Being part of a group also causes a sense of security. We understand where the “social validation” comes from, which leads us to decide that this or that product or service is worth buying or not. Using social proof within your marketing campaign is therefore the most persuasive way to legitimize your products in the eyes of consumers.
The 5 types of social evidence
In his article “Social Proof is the New Marketing,” posted on TechCrunch, Aileen Lee explains how sharing social proofing examples on your social networks can increase the number of people who discover and trust your brand. It breaks down five categories of social proof:
1. Social proof by expertise
This is the opinion of popular influencers or people whose voice is authoritative in your industry. If a successful fashion blogger recommends your products, for example, it is almost certain that your sales will skyrocket.
2. Social proof by celebrity
It’s getting approval from celebrities, or building partnerships with them, and it can be incredibly effective. In her article, Lee mentions the example of Jessica Simpson and Nerida Joy, who helped the Beautymint brand attract half a million visitors to its website the day it was launched.
3. Social proof by the success of users
This applies when you put forward people who use your products successfully. The example that comes to your mind is perhaps the demonstration videos that can be found in supermarkets or teleshopping programs … But there are ways of doing things that are much more authentic and engaging. – real success stories. Watch how Nike followed and chronicled Eliud Kipchoge’s journey as he ran the fastest marathon in history . He crossed the finish line in just two hours and twenty-five seconds, with Nike’s “Zoom Vaporfly 4%” sneakers on his feet. Even though he narrowly missed his goal of going below the two-hour mark, he did mark the story.
The reasoning is simple. If other people can reach their goals using your products, then your customers too can do it.
4. Social proof by the number
This type of social proof is intended to emphasize the popularity of a product or service. The motto under the golden arches of the McDonald logo perfectly illustrates it: “Billions and Billions Served”, “Billions and billions of [hamburgers] served”.
By drawing attention to the popularity of a product or service, you imply that it is a choice that appeals to the greatest number, which reinforces the purchasing decisions of your customers.
5. Social proof by proximity
The recommendations made by our friends or family members are a particularly powerful form of social proof. 77% of consumers (Nielsen Study) are more likely to shop at a discovery business in this way.
And, according to Lee’s findings, people who get their products recommended by friends or family are more likely to become customers, complete their purchases faster and spend more.
4 ways to present social proof for marketing purposes
1. The testimonials
When someone who is not part of your company (someone you do not pay) talks about it in a positive way, it is a testimony. You can use this content to create persuasive “customer testimonial” videos (discussed later) or publications on your social networks. You can also integrate it on pages of your website that have a lot of visibility.
2. Ratings and reviews
Like testimonials, a positive and quantified opinion about your products or services can be extremely effective. And then, always generating more critics and rewarding notes automatically gives them more credibility. If you have more than 500 good reviews, it clearly shows that your product or service is worth it.
3. The approval of influencers
We’ve already talked about why influencers should be part of your social media marketing strategy , but they’re also a great source of social proof.
If an influencer is popular, relevant to your industry, and if its subscribers match your target audience, its approval will have even more effect. If you’re lucky, ask the influencer in question for permission to integrate it into your marketing strategy, whether it’s simply by sharing the content inside which it endorses or by adding the content to the marketing page. welcome to your website.
4. The media logos
If reputable blogs, well-known media, radio and TV stations mention your products or services, consider adding a “Press” section on your website. It’s an influential form of social proof that indirectly validates what you sell by associating it with respected media. The more these are known, the stronger the social proof will be.
Positive social evidence vs. negative
Now that you know more about social proof and its variations, here are some tips that will help you understand when and how to use social proof in your marketing.
Do not focus on the negative
In their book entitled Yes! Psychologists Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin have tested the effectiveness of various placards to prevent theft. They tested three different signs, including one that used negative social proof .
Result? This sign increased the chances of flights being committed (in fact, flights tripled). Why ? Because the sign drew attention to the number of thieves, which allowed people to be more comfortable with the idea of stealing, to think it was acceptable behavior.
Message received five out of five: do not use negative social proof to convince consumers to buy a product or try a service. It’s not nearly as effective as positive social proof.
Positive social proof is more convincing than the prospect of saving money
A study in the Washington Post has tested the effectiveness of four different messages to persuade consumers to favor the fan over the air conditioning during the summer, and thus save energy. Here are these messages:
Message 1: Informed consumers that by focusing on the fan they would save $ 54 on their electricity bills.
Message 2: Informed consumers that switching from air conditioning to a fan would allow them to produce 119 kilograms of less greenhouse gases per month.
Message 3: More moralistic, it was intended to persuade consumers that using a fan and not an air conditioning system was “the right thing to do”.
Message 4: Informed consumers that 77% of their neighbors already favored fans with air conditioning.
In your opinion, which message was the most effective? It was message 4 – the one who used positive social proof. It was more effective than saving money (message 1), saving the environment (message 2) and doing what is morally right (message 3). While all of these messages are compelling on their own, they are far from being as effective or having the same appeal as belonging to a majority group.
How to promote your business successfully through social proof
Social networks like Facebook and Instagram are driven by stories and images. Combine them to create compelling, engaging content that persuades potential customers to take the plunge.
Tell interesting stories
Anecdotes and success stories from your customers are a great way to demonstrate the value of your products. The reviews are compelling, of course, but a story about a customer that clearly poses a problem, a search, a solution and a positive result will be much more powerful.
Psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, in their book The Invisible Gorilla , report that stories are perceived as more trustworthy, more compelling, and more memorable than numbers, because humans retain them much more easily than averages or numbers. percentages. This can be attributed to human nature.
Our ancestors did not have the data or the means to record information for transmission – it was done through stories. The human brain is conditioned to remember the stories .
“Using stories with characters and emotional content leads to a better understanding of the key arguments a speaker wants to convey, and allows the audience to remember them more easily weeks later. – Paul J. Zak
Take pictures portraits
According to this study , what makes a message more trustworthy is to associate it with a face.
Man is a social animal, and research shows that we like to look at human faces . Therefore, as soon as you use a form of social proof, whether the story of a customer, a testimony, a positive review relayed on your social networks, accompany a high quality photo of the person who speak.
According to Buffer , Twitter posts that contain images generate 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets than those without. By joining forces with Buzzsumo, Buffer has also discovered that images provoke more reactions than any other type of publication on Facebook.
What you need to remember: combine your social proof examples with faces to generate more participation on your social networks.
Create persuasive “customer testimonials” videos
According to Animoto’s article 2018 State of Social Video , video is the most popular type of content on social media. As a result, you should definitely incorporate filmed content into your special social networking strategy.
Customer testimonials are convincing because of their inherent objectivity: someone who does not work for your brand validates your product or service, so they seem more believable to your audience. Even if it requires a lot in terms of production, you should consider filming testimonials and sharing them on your social networks.
Everyone loves to watch a beautiful success story , learn from the experience of those who succeed. Once you have produced your testimonial video, it becomes a powerful tool that you can use in your email marketing, social media, your blog, the homepage of your website, and more.
Use social proof in your marketing
In all probability, you have already used some form of social proof to justify one of your purchase decisions. It’s an incredible marketing tool because it uses one of our primary instincts, to be part of a group.
Social proof can be used in almost any marketing context. From your website to your email marketing campaigns through your social networks and your blog, all of your communication channels can benefit.
So talk to your customers, find out what they like about your products and services, and share this information to create a particularly effective marketing campaign. Remember that deep down, man is a social animal – if you make your customers feel that buying your products, they will be part of a rewarding group, you will convince them.