Social Proof: Types, Benefits, and How to Use It In Your Marketing

If you’ve ever shopped for a product online, you’ve probably been influenced by social proof before hitting the buy button. 

When implemented correctly, social proof can cause people to choose you over the competition and your customers to keep on doing business with you. 

This article explains the different types and importance of social proof, examples, and different ways to use it for your business. 

What is Social Proof?

In marketing and business, social proof is when people get influenced by others to act in a certain way. Social proof was mentioned in Robert Cialdini’s book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” which was originally published in 1984. 

In his book, Cialdini refers to it as one of the 6 key principles of persuasion. (Other principles include reciprocity, consistency, authority, liking, and scarcity.)

Social proof becomes extremely valuable especially when people are uncertain about their decisions. That’s because they look to the opinions of others on how to best behave. 

Popular examples of social proof include testimonials and reviews from customers, case studies, follower count on social media, and celebrity endorsements. 

The Different Types of Social Proof

There are 5 basic types of social proof and using one over another will depend on your campaign or the product or service you’re offering. Learn about each of them below: 

  • Expert: In this type of social proof, experts or influencers in your industry endorse your brand. For example, a dietician endorsing your meal replacement shake would count as an expert recommendation. 
  • Certification: This includes the blue verification badges on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Digital certifications you may have on your website also apply to prove that you possess certain skills, carry the right credentials, or that your page is secure/legitimate (such as the case of trust badges).  
  • Wisdom of the crowd: This is when your brand is popular among a large group of people. For example, having thousands or millions of followers on social media gives you the ability to easily sway other people’s purchasing behaviors. 
  • Wisdom of friends: This is the type of social proof where people listen to the recommendations of friends and family members. For example, if your best friend tells you about a new tool that makes their photos look stunning, you’re likely to show interest. 
  • User: This is probably the most impactful form of social proof if you’re selling products and services online. For example, happy testimonials from those who’ve experienced amazing benefits after using your product. 

Why Use Social Proof in Marketing?

Social proof psychology benefits your business by conveying trust and confidence. Whether you’re in the local marketing, e-commerce, SaaS, or coaching space — people want proof before they can decide to do business with you. 

Below are stats showing how effective social proof can be for increasing website traffic, landing page conversions, and sales: 

  • A local consumer review survey revealed that 77% of consumers “always” or “regularly” read reviews when browsing for local businesses. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 92.4% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy a product or service if they’ve been able to read a trusted review about it. (Source: G2)
  • Content that’s put out by influencers generates 8 times more engagement among younger millennials than content shared directly from brands. (Source: OptinMonster) 
  • 82% of Americans seek recommendations from their friends and family before making a purchase. (Source: OptinMonster) 
  • 79% of people say that user-generated content (UGC) highly impacts their purchasing decisions. (Source: HubSpot) 

Examples of Social Proof in Action

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best social proof examples from local and online businesses in different niches: 

Max Rhymes

Max Rhymes is a children’s book series that aims to teach positive behavioral patterns to kids. While using UpViral for their giveaway campaign, they featured a video of Dr. Bruce Lipton, ​​an American developmental biologist and bestselling author, below their signup form. 

In the video, Dr. Lipton talked about Max Rhymes where he also said, “Max Rhymes can change millions of lives.” This endorsement has helped Max Rhymes in generating 7,878 total leads and social media growth. 

Kurnell Christmas Market

Shire Talk is a local news, media, and marketing agency based in Australia. Brett Whipp, the agency owner, used UpViral to promote a local event through a 13-day giveaway that resulted in 20,000 people coming to the event. 

He boosted the campaign’s social proof by mentioning in his social media post that one of Australia’s top jewellery designers is going to showcase her collection at the local event. 

UpViral

What better way to display social proof than letting people know that your customers are happy with your product or service? At UpViral, we display some of our best testimonials from business owners, including industry experts like Russell Brunson and Ryan Deiss.

Ways and Tips On Using Social Proof in Your Business

Here’s how you can incorporate social proof marketing into your everyday campaigns and tips on using it for the best possible outcomes. 

1. Use case studies in your marketing. 

Case studies allow you to show people the actual results that customers have achieved by using your product or service. By including quantitative data — such as the number of leads generated through a software (like with UpViral) or the amount of weight lost (like with a weight loss nutrition program) — you can convince people that what you’re offering is worth their money.

💎Bonus tip: Take advantage of every opportunity to showcase your case studies. Use them as lead magnet PDF downloads in exchange for a blog reader’s email address or as part of your email content. Additionally, businesses with a growing number of case studies should have a dedicated page for those case studies that visitors can easily find. 

2. Keep on collecting new reviews. 

When it comes to garnering consumer trust, stats show that “85% of consumers think that online reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant.” 

Reviews help you get noticed when people are randomly looking for a quality product or service. In other words, they expand your brand’s online presence, especially when they appear on third-party websites and platforms like Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, and Google. 

Want more reviews? Go ahead and ask for them. 

A clever strategy is to do it at the right time, and that’s after they’ve made a purchase. Strike up a conversation in your email where you say something like, “How are you enjoying [product/service]?” Don’t forget to provide a link to the page you want the review to appear on. 

In fact, if you’re already running a rewards program, why not add a step where you incentivize people for leaving a review? 

We’ve made this possible for our UpViral users through our Online Reputation Engine template. With this template, you’ll be able to encourage people to leave reviews to get valuable rewards! It doesn’t matter what niche you’re in. This template works for any business. 

3. Pair social proof with urgency.

Applying any means of urgency in a campaign, whether by using a countdown timer or adding marketing trigger words like “deadline,” “hurry up,” and “save your spot,” can double the effectiveness of social proof. 

For example, if you’re running an UpViral giveaway and you’re offering your bestselling product as the prize, add testimonials of your product on the lead capture page along with a countdown timer showing the remaining number of days or hours before the campaign ends. 

4. Share user-generated content (UGC) on your social pages. 

When someone on Instagram raves about their awesome experience with a product, that’s user-generated content or UGC. 

Starbucks is one brand that’s fond of executing UGC in their campaigns. Take, for example, their #WhiteCupContest where they encouraged customers to decorate a Starbucks white cup with customized art and submit their photos on social media.

UGC can come in many formats, but the most impactful are visuals. Images and videos are more authentic and are easier to relate to. Remember that no one can promote your brand better than your customers! 

How do you get more user-generated content? Run a contest where you give your participants an option to post a photo of themselves using your product or service. In exchange, you give them additional points. 

You’ll be able to do this conveniently by choosing the UGC Collector template inside the UpViral app. I talk more about the UGC Collector template in this video.   

5. Collaborate with experts on whatever you’re promoting.

Last but not least, consider working with experts every now and then. 

You can invite them to share their insights on one of your podcast episodes, speak in your next webinar, or partner with you in a giveaway. 

To make the collaboration successful, make sure the influencer aligns with your brand and audience. Working with recognizable names in your industry will expose your brand to a wider audience, which would be quite profitable for your business. 

Conclusion

As you’ve read in this article, social proof takes various forms. These are influencer endorsements, certifications, recommendations from friends, and customer testimonials. 

Fortunately, any business will be able to include social proof using the strategies above, including paying attention to what their competitors are already doing to boost social proof. 

Even better, you can gather more social proof starting today with UpViral. 🙌

Our templates, Online Reputation Engine and UGC Collector, will allow you to reward participants for leaving an online review or posting their images where they’re using your product or service on social media. Plus, you get the added benefit of growing your email list. Discover more UpViral features here.