Behaviours are contagious. The researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler used the results of the Framinghan network (a solution that allows scientists to map the social networks of the participants for several years) to track what happened to friends of people dealing with obesity, among other conditions. And what they realised was that the likelihood of a friend of someone who had become obese to face the same challenge was of 171%.
Our network helps us to know what is acceptable, what we are or aren’t allowed to do if we want to part of a group. This is called the moral reinforcement, and it can be used for good or bad – yes, don’t you go thinking that peer pressure is always a negative thing, as many of us would do unspeakable things if we were sure that everybody would congratulate us in the end.
So call it moral reinforcement or peer pressure or social proof, but understand that what is being discussed here is a behaviour triggered by anthropological and biological reasons connected to adapting and surviving. We needed to be part of a group so we could deal with the challenges of nature, and, somehow, our minds still work the same way.
Marketing has made the most of “social proof”
So it is understandable why marketing has used what is called as social proof to attract customers and add value to products and services. And as social proof here, we are talking about opinions and facts brought up by people that we consider as reliable or role models. Their words are used to back up what the business is saying about their portfolio, minimising the impression that companies will always lie in order to sell.
The internet and its social media networks have just made it even easier for marketers to use social proof as a tactic to make their goals come true. Offline or online, peer opinion can bring a significant and much faster return compared to when they aren’t used. And the best thing is that there are several ways to apply it to any kind of businesses.
The five forms of social proof
According to the venture capitalist Aileen Lee, there are five forms of social proof that you should be aware of before start deciding which your next step will be:
- Experts social proof
- Celebrities social proof
- User social proof
- Wisdom of the crowd
- Wisdom of your friends
And the tips that you will read in the sequence try to make the most of these five forms separately or altogether so you can increase your sales using scientifically proven ideas.
1 - Gather ratings and reviews
One of the most common ways to use social proof to attract customers is by gathering ratings and reviews from previous or recurrent clients. Some online services live on them, such as Amazon and TripAdvisor, and they are proven to be powerful.
Who would book a reservation in a hotel whose rating is 1 star, approved by less than 20% of their customers, and with a bunch of horrible reviews to everybody read, no matter how beautiful the place looks like on their website? Exactly, nobody would. On the other hand, products and services with above 80% of approval are more likely to get even more clients.
So you should always embrace the ideas of increasing the number of online reviews about your business. Ask your clients for reviews and give them a direct link so to make it easier. Yes, it is possible that some of them will leave you a bad review instead, but it is also true that people won’t trust on a product with no negative reviews at all – it will just sound that you have paid for them.
2 - Publish testimonials
If, among your clients, there are influencers, celebrities, or any other people that are considered as an authority by your target audience, you should try and get some testimonials from them.
Some great words about your business coming out of the mouths of people that your clients trust will be much more effective than you being the one saying them. If nothing else, they will, at least, stop to hear and analyse your message, something that you might not achieve by yourself.
You can use these testimonials as quotes on your website or you can create ads, and even videos with them. It will depend on your budget and their agreement, of course. And don’t forget to add their logos to your page if they are companies (creating something that is known as “logo porn”). But you can be sure that the results will be the best you can expect.
3 - Increase your number of followers/likes/subscribers
Empty stores feel just wrong, especially when they are located in a busy shopping centre. Same goes for restaurants and bars. Of course, you don’t want to be in a packed place, but when it has no customers at all it feels like there is something wrong about it.
And this is no different with social media. Pages, profiles, or blogs with a very low number of likes, subscribers, or followers raise suspicion about their authenticity and the quality of the services that they provide. On the other hand, more people click on the button to keep getting news from you, more likely is that their friends and even people who don’t know them will think that it is a good idea to join the team.
So do your best so to increase the number your followers, likes, or subscribers (depending on the media or network that you are using). But what you shouldn’t do here is to buy clicks, no matter how tempting it can be – this is easily spotted by Facebook algorithm and by anyone with a bit more of understanding about how these things work. And all your beloved credibility will be ruined faster than you wish.
4 - Show off who has published about you
If your company has been the source of information or mentioned by a reputable publication, you should add it to your ads and website. You can create a “As Seen On” section and display the logos of the publications along with links to their articles or posts if they are online, or a downloadable PDF of the newspaper or magazine if they are offline.
You can also use their articles as a source to your own articles on your own content marketing strategy. This will increase the credibility of your business and will help you to become an expert in your industry. And more readers the publication has, more potential clients you will be reaching through it.
5 - Look for user experiences
Whenever possible, you should encourage your clients to share their experiences with your product or service, and not only by writing reviews.
You can also try and create a contest, in which you can ask them to publish on social media videos or photos using your product, or tell how they got to find out about your company in a creative way. The idea behind it is that if someone is benefiting from it, it should be good – and nobody wants to miss a great opportunity.
You will see that, as a result, all that positive information will bring you several new clients, and that the budget that you will invest in the campaign will be nothing compared to what you will gain from it.
Wrapping it up
Using the power of social proof can be an easy and affordable way to bring you more customers. It will make your potential clients more confident about the quality of your product or service, increase the credibility of your brand, and help you to build an endless fountain of new customers.
To achieve it, you can try increasing your number of reviews, ratings, likes, followers, subscribers, shares, and comments, anything that will make people think that your business is a hot brand.
You can also spread the good experiences of celebrities, experts, and even other clients with your products, so to make your target audience know the value of what you are offering. This way, you will be able to attract more customers to your business using their influence in your favour.
As you can see, using social proof to increase your sales will demand a lot of hard work, but it will pay off. Science and statistics are in your favours, so go ahead and start putting these ideas into practice today. You won’t be disappointed.