Social proof, Wikipedia suggests that “ social influence (or social proof) is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behaviour for a given situation”.
For example, if you see a group of people looking up in the sky do you look up too? Or when you see a line of customers waiting to eat at a restaurant, are you more interested in what that restaurant is doing well? What’s the relevance to your business? Well reports suggest that when a friend or family member recommends a product or service 83% of people say they trust these recommendations over any other form of advertising.
So how do you build social influence for your business? Research suggests there are actually five different types of social proof.
1) Expert Social Proof
Expert social proof is when an industry thought leader or influencer approves of your product. This could take the form of them blogging, posting on social media, or being quoted or photographed as a product user.
2) Celebrity Social Proof
Celebrity social proof typically takes the form of a celebrity using a product and promoting it on social media or in public. This form of social proof is especially meaningful if the endorsement is unpaid.
3) User Social Proof
User social proof consists of positive feedback from actual users, typically taking the form of customer reviews and testimonials.
4) “Wisdom of the Crowds” Social Proof
This social proof appeals to our Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): When lots of people are using or buying a product, others want to follow suit.
5) “Wisdom of your Friends” Social Proof
“Wisdom of your Friends” refers to the recommendations from people we know and trust carrying far more weight than other types of promotions or advertising.
How to build your Social Influence
So if you want to use social media to build your social influence, here are some statistics and tips on best practice:
- 66% of consumers trust customer reviews online. Build reviews of your company’s products or services.
- 77% of consumers say that word-of-mouth from family and friends is the most persuasive way to get information about new products. Social Media platforms are the best, quickest and potentially cheapest way of promoting word of mouth marketing.
- Similarly, 86% of female shoppers say they put the most trust in product recommendations from real people — either industry bloggers or people they know — more than celebrities.
- 60% of consumers prefer to make purchases from brands they are familiar with so advertise and promote your brand on multiple platforms.
- Excessive negative customer reviews in Google Search results can result in a loss of up to 70% of potential customers.
- Testimonials featuring photos perform best.
- Prominent client logos in testimonials are highly memorable.
Examples of social influence:
Amazon provides a great example of how customer reviews and testimonials can be used. In their review sections, they publish the breakdown of the different ratings so visitors can easily see if the majority of purchasers were happy or unhappy with what they bought. Customers can also publish reviews with specific comments and photos of their purchases, which are more eye-catching forms of social proof for visitors than testimonials alone.
Fitbit lets health and tech industry experts speak to the quality of their products in the “Buzz” section of their website. It adds a lot of weight to claims of Fitbit’s success when multiple publications are saying the same positive things they are. That could be why Fitbit is often rated the top fitness tracker on the market.
Facebook suggests Pages and articles for users based on how their friends are interacting with the social media platform. This form of social proof is supported by our inherent trust in people we already know: we take our friends’ recommendations more seriously than any other type of advertising.
Here at M3SM, we help our customers build their social influence. From building attractive social media accounts, to adding social sharing and follow buttons to their website blogs, to developing interesting new content and implementing processes for gathering customer reviews and interactions. If you would like to understand how we can help your business grow, contact us today.