When looking for somewhere to dine on a Saturday night which restaurant are you more likely to pick: The one that’s empty and has no one inside it but the wait staff? Or the one that is lively and bursting at the seams with a crowd outside waiting to be seated?
Most people would be instantly attracted to the busy restaurant because it had ‘social proof’. This means it is demonstrating that it’s worth your hard earned money and time otherwise why else would it be flooded with customers. That’s how the human psychology works and this exact phenomenon is what marketing experts employ to increase confidence in anxious customers to convince them to try out a product or service.
So how can you build social proof with your business? Let’s take a look at some tried and tested strategies that will help spike your customer base and conversions:
1. Online Reviews and Customer Testimonials
Online review and testimonials are the easiest types of social proof to share the merits of your brand with the outside world. Most online shoppers will search out and read reviews of your products or service prior to purchase and the more customer feedback you have will help them to validate their purchase. Almost all eCommerce stores use online reviews as social proof on their product listings. In addition to this you can use your expert and best customer reviews to your advantage by displaying them on the front of your website for potential and present customers to see.
As well as utilising your existing customer base, there are many experts and bloggers that you can invite to review your product. For the best results look for people that are respected and work in your niche or specific product category. It never hurts to reach out to someone with a great profile, many of these people review products like yours for a living and actively look for new brands to share to their audiences.
2. Sharing your clients and customer base
Let’s take the restaurant example once again. Because you see people flocking towards a particular venue, you believe it’s a quality one. So, in this case, the more customers you see the more it strengthens your trust in the brand. Telling the world how many customers you’re currently serving is a great way to grow your existing clientele.
Sharing the numbers of customers, active users and subscribers you have can all help build social proof and make you look more legitimate to potential customers.
Many brands providing services demonstrate social proof by sharing their clients logos on their website. The reasoning behind this is that bigger the brands you are working with the more professional and successful you’ll appear.
3. Media Mentions and name drops
The power of mentions and name drops can be a very effective way to build authority and validate your product or service. If your product has been featured by a popular magazine, a TV segment, or an interview, it will help you build credibility and introduce you to a wider audience.
Media mentions may even come from the most surprising places like the time that the Queen of England name dropped ‘Game of Thrones’ in her Christmas Day address. Even if your customers don’t see or hear it make sure they can discover it by sharing the excerpt on your website or to your email subscribers.
4. Celebrity Endorsement
It’s no secret that people look up to celebrities and public figures and take note of the things they wear and the items they use. If you are a fan of a particular famous person you’d be naturally inclined to try out a product line or a service that they endorse.
If your budget allows you to pursue a celebrity endorsement, the right partnership can be incredibly lucrative. Some brands send out samples to celebrities in the hope that they will endorse them and instantly build rapport with your brand to a large audience. Of course some celebrities may be genuine customers of your brand and not need any prompting to share your products with their fans.
On a lesser scale many brands are using influencer marketing to the same effect. People with large followings on social media can be employed to help promote your brand to their online communities. Although with so many celebrities and influencers capitalising on paid promotion the effectiveness of these collaborations can be questionable.
5. Recognitions, Certifications, and Badges
Ever noticed how schools and colleges are recognised by certain Universities? If an establishment is nationally recognized by the government or a regulatory body, it establishes a sense of trust among the community.
Brands can use this to the same effect by applying for awards and publishing their certifications, badges, and recognition. There are lots of awards you can apply for as a business and winning them can give you a huge advantage over your competitors. The more certifications you have the more credible you’ll appear so make sure you mention your associations and awards by sharing their logos on your website.
6. Social connections and sharing
People’s knowledge of brands and products today can frequently come from within their personal social media networks. Customers will use your social media accounts to verify and connect with your brand so the more you can cultivate an engaged following online the stronger your brand will appear. Having an active and welcoming social presence is key to building social proof as many customers will refer to your social accounts to see the type of content you share prior to purchase.
Creating great branded content that customers want to share and recommend to their friends and family is some of the best social proof you can get. Even better are customers that are so enamoured with your brand that they create their own content featuring your product. This essentially creates a visual review of your product and when they share it, an authentic word of mouth recommendation. You can incentivise and invite your customers to create content by having your own branded hashtag and sharing their photos on your own social accounts
When it comes to selling products online, trust is the most delicate commodity and the hardest one to earn. It is important to do everything in your power to increase confidence in your customer and reduce their path to purchase. Building social proof is not something you can rush as it involves demonstrating the integrity of your brand across multiple touch points, however there are some great tools to help implement the results like Proof. There is no one tactic you can use that will convince your customer to hit that checkout button but using a combination these suggestions will certainly help.