A dinosaur uses a magnet to garner positive social proof.

The 411 on Social Proof

Think of the last time you purchased a product or service based on the recommendation of a friend, family member, or your favorite social media influencer. While social proof may sound like a fancy marketing term, the truth is that we’ve been reliant on it since the dawn of time. Yup, even dinosaurs looked to fellow terrifying reptiles for guidance on their buying habits.

Okay, so the last part may not be exactly true (who’s to say?!), but that doesn’t detract from just how important social proof is. Take us, for example. Before switching over to a 3PL partner, merchants usually devote a considerable amount of time to checking out reviews, digging through press releases, and asking trusted colleagues for their thoughts and advice. In fact, stumbling upon this article may very well have been part of your outsourcing process!

Today, we’re going to give you the full social proof breakdown. By the time you’re done reading, you should have another excellent addition to your marketing toolkit. Let’s begin!

What Is Social Proof?

Let’s take it back to the Mesozoic Era. You’re a dinosaur in search of a great spot to settle down with your little scaly family. After stomping around for a bit, you notice that your buddies seem to stay far away from some suspicious-looking shrubs. Because of their negative reaction, you also decide to avoid the shrubs and move into a luxury, asteroid-sized community in the Yucatán Peninsula instead.

Was that a good choice? Only time will tell. Regardless, it’s undeniable that the opinions of others have a significant impact on our daily decisions, and eCommerce is no exception. With so many options to choose from, it’s become the norm for buyers to research their future purchases, taking a cue from the general public before clicking “Buy.”

To put it more technically, social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are correct. If following the hive mind has never been your thing, consider that this is something we do all the time on a (likely) subconscious level. And, while the results aren’t guaranteed to always be accurate, the wisdom of the crowd can help us find yummy restaurants, riveting movies, and, yes, amazing products.

Types of Social Proof

Social proof can come from all sorts of places, but the below examples have proven to be some of the most effective. Ideally, you’ll want to use as many forms of social proof as possible, but you’re welcome to adopt and adapt as you see fit. The world is your oyster!

Word of Mouth

Marketing has witnessed a host of sophisticated trends, but word of mouth will never go out of style. After all, we usually trust the people we’re friends with, and, even if a conversation is with a casual acquaintance, getting feedback from a living, breathing human can be as compelling as a hundred virtual strangers.

User Reviews

But don’t get us wrong — rounding up the opinions of a hundred virtual strangers still works, and it works well. Instead of gambling with their online shopping, consumers prefer to scour the web for people who’ve already been there, done that. 

Customer Testimonials & Case Studies

User reviews provide plenty of value, but more complicated operations can greatly benefit from customer testimonials and case studies. If you’re wondering what the difference is between the two, a testimonial is a short blurb from a satisfied customer, while a case study provides a more in-depth look at how two (or more) companies have worked together to find a mutually advantageous solution.

Product Endorsements

Are you in the market for a new protein powder? How would you feel if The Rock himself was the brand ambassador? If you’re like most people, your level of interest would be considerably piqued. After all, if The Rock cosigns, of all things, a protein powder, then it must be good, right?

The answer to that is probably, but having a trusted source endorse a product means that taking the plunge becomes that much easier. Aside from industry leaders and celebrities, endorsements can also come from social media influencers — just make sure that your product representative is chosen wisely.

Public Recognition

Being recognized for a job well done not only feels awesome, it also does awesome things. Awards, certification badges, trust seals, and positive press can all come together to put your customers’ minds at ease while simultaneously solidifying your presence in your chosen niche.

While you’re at it, why not establish your company as an industry leader? Look out for community events and talks, and don’t be afraid to initiate or participate in a social media takeover or two. The more you get your name out there, the better chance you have of being recognized!

Social Media Stats

Speaking of social media, investigating a brand’s “legitness” has never been easier. Social media is free, accessible, and chock-full of useful information for prospective buyers.

Stats like follower count are super important, but don’t forget about engagement rates! Savvy shoppers will see right through inflated numbers, especially if a brand’s engagement leaves a lot to be desired. At the end of the day, service and inventory quality beat vanity metrics 100% of the time. 

Congratulations! Your marketing game has just leveled up. Now that you know all about social proof, we’re expecting to hear about your products from far and wide. You can do it!

Questions? Concerns! Talk to us! We want to hear from you.

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