Social proof is the phenomenon whereby consumers’ actions are influenced by the experiences, attitudes, and opinions of other consumers. Let’s assume you are on the market for a new smartphone. What would influence your decision more: reading marketing copy on a smartphone’s features or hearing the experiences and opinions of a few trusted friends?
Chances are you would put more weight on the testimonies of your friends. You trust their opinions more because you know they would not give you a bad recommendation. This is an example of how social proof works and why many businesses continue to use it to build trust and reputation for their website.
6 Ways To Use Social Proof For Your Website
- Publish content from users.
- Highlight customer testimonials on your website.
- Cite actual case studies that addressed specific customer pain points.
- Find reputable influences who can endorse your product or service.
- Invite customers to post reviews about your product or service.
- Substantiate key information with actual numbers.
One of the most popular quotations on social behavior goes like this: “When someone talks a lot about himself, it only means no one is talking about him.” The same message can be applied when using social proof for your website.
The purpose of web copy is to entice the visitor to explore the website further. As a rule, web copy content must be able to present the brand’s value proposition within a few seconds. Otherwise, the visitor might just click out of your website.
Given that challenge, it should be perfectly understandable why web copy content highlights the brand’s strongest, most sellable features. However, for the discerning or discriminating consumer, such web copy content can be seen as self-serving:
“Of course, you’ll say your brand is the best. You’re trying to sell your products to consumers like me.”
By contrast, if the same consumer comes across customers’ testimonies, product ratings, and reviews, the perception of your brand will change. Testimonies, product ratings, and reviews are examples of social proof techniques that you can use for your website. They have the ability to boost your claims because like your friends’ opinions, they have nothing to gain by giving you a bad recommendation.
How Social Proof Has Influenced Business
In this day and age where the Internet has made information more accessible, it should be safe to say most consumers think that way. The Internet has shifted the balance of power to the consumer.
Gone are the days when businesses could write anything about their product or service. It didn’t matter if the product delivered on the promise. Businesses could get away with “false claims” because consumers had the platform to air their views and grievances.
The Internet changed all that with the proliferation of social media networks, chat forums, and product review sites.
Today, the fortunes of a business can change overnight with a single post or image that goes viral. Businesses have learned to stay on their toes and be more accountable for their claims and the information they publish.
Here are some statistics that show how social proof has influenced business decision-making:
- 70% of consumers in America search and read reliable product reviews before making a decision to purchase a product or service.
- 63% of consumers will patronize a website that publishes both its product ratings and product reviews.
If your business website has not incorporated social proof as part of its content marketing strategy, now is the time to do so.
6 Ways To Use Social Proof To Build Trust And Reputation For Your Website
You’ve probably come across all of the social proof techniques that will be discussed in this section. They are used in E-Commerce sites, social media business pages, blogs and online forums to name a few. Social proof is important for consumers because it helps them make educated decisions.
As we mentioned earlier, the Internet has leveled the playing field between the consumer and business. With the Internet, consumers can do research before making a decision to buy a product or patronize a service. The reason is obvious: They want the best product or service for their hard-earned money.
When you have social proof available on your website, you make the research process easier for the consumer. That is why they prefer to visit websites that provide social proof.
1. Get Your Users Involved
The best endorsers for your products are the end users. Customers who are happy with the consistency and quality of your goods will become loyal to your brand. They will openly promote your brand because they are proud to be affiliated with it.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms on the Internet. People love to take and post pictures! As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Businesses have taken note of this.
Companies specifically search for User-Generated Content (UGC) on image-based sites like Instagram that feature their products. Once they come across UGC about their products, they can repost it from the Instagrammer’s account.
According to a survey, 76% of consumers trust UGC more than brand marketing copy.
If you come across UGC that is related to your business, whether it is an image or a post, reach out to the person who made it. Ask that person if you can repurpose or reformat the UGC on your website and social media pages.
2. Capitalize on Customer Testimonials
Testimonials are powerful influencers because these are seen as honest and sincere endorsements of your products or service. Business consultancy firms often feature testimonials from multiple clients on how the services have helped them generate record- setting revenues the previous year.
If you want to add more power to your testimonials, put them in video format. We’ve discussed how videos can boost your marketing strategy in our article, “How to Use Video Content in Marketing”.
Videos are effective because they appeal to multiple senses: sight, hearing and of course, it can create emotional connectivity. The use of video can deliver your message faster and more efficiently than text.
A good strategy would be to produce a video that includes several testimonies from clients and customers. Then we will embed it on your website’s home page.
3. Pinpoint Pain Points with Case Studies
The use of case studies is an example of a great target marketing strategy. We define a case study as a more detailed testimony because it relates how a product or service addressed a specific concern of a customer.
For example, if your website is a retailer of Wi-Fi routers, you could include various case studies that show how your products solved the following Internet-connectivity related problems:
- Homes with thick walls;
- Homes with multiple floors;
- Single floor homes that are located in open space such as a ranch;
- Users that connect multiple devices;
- Users that run multiple tasks at the same time.
The more case studies you can present, the more specific user concerns you can address. You can cast a wider net and target a larger market of potential customers for your products or services. Like testimonies, case studies are more effective when published in video format.
4. Connect with Influencers
Influencers are people who are widely recognized and respected in the industry. They are generally viewed as experts and their opinions are highly regarded by consumers. Influencers create a lot of pull for products and services they endorse because consumers see it as a “seal of approval”.
Influencers are not necessarily celebrities; although Oprah Winfrey often promotes products openly without remuneration. The advantages of connecting with influencers are that you can leverage your brand with their reputation and at the same time gain access to their followers.
5. Publish Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are commonly found in E-Commerce sites such as Amazon. As we discussed earlier, adding customer reviews on your website will make the research process easier for your visitors.
Studies show that 63% of consumers tend to purchase a product from a website that features customer reviews. Another study revealed that consumers trusted websites that have customer reviews 12 times more than sites that don’t.
A secondary benefit of publishing customer reviews is that it can give you a boost in Google’s search rankings for two reasons:
- Improves User Experience (UX)
- Frequently provides fresh and unique content
Lastly, don’t be afraid of getting negative reviews. Consumers know there is no such thing as a perfect product or service. A business that only publishes overwhelmingly positive reviews comes across as “hard sell”. Publishing negative reviews “humanizes” your brand and makes it more relatable to consumers.
6. Validate Your Claims with Numbers
In ways, creating marketing content is like applying for a job. The resume is your marketing tool and you need to impress the Hiring Manager enough to grant you a job interview. Hiring managers will not spend more than a few seconds on your resume.
One of the most effective ways to attract their interest is by citing your accomplishments. However, citing accomplishments without substantiating them with actual numbers is tantamount to committing hearsay.
Consumers want to see how your business has contributed to the success or well-being of its end users. A good example would be the job search website Elance; now known as UpWork, which proudly proclaimed it helped freelancers earn over US$1 Billion.
A good strategy would be to validate testimonies with actual numbers. Going back to our example with the business consultancy firm, a client could state that the service helped their business generate 400% more revenue over the last two years.
Social proof is a proven way of building trust and enhancing the reputation of your website. Today’s consumers are more discriminating. They will harness the power of the Internet to find information that will help them make educated decisions.
By incorporating social proof on your website, you make the research and decision-making process easier for your site visitors. You may be rewarded with a purchase but most certainly, social proof strategies such as product reviews, video testimonies, and case studies will result in higher rankings in Google.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by including social proof content on your website. Even negative reviews can have a positive effect on humanizing your brand.
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