Social Proof

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Science plays a key role in marketing with one of the most influential disciplines is the science of psychology.

We at Adept Creative have studied and written a bit about behavioral psychology. Having a bit of understanding of some of the driving forces of behavior can go a long way toward better understanding your audience and why they do the things they do.

People Run in packs

People are pack animals. If someone else is doing something we are more likely to do it as well. Whether you are aware of it or not the herd mentality is real.

Social Proof is a term first used by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1984). It describes the psychological and social phenomenon where people copy the actions of other people when they are uncertain about what to do. Basically, we tend to assume that the people around us our friends, experts or celebrities have more knowledge about what is going on and what should be done.

“We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it” – Robert Cialdini

In addition to the behaviors associated with social proof, we often make judgments based on our overall impression of someone. This is known as the halo effect named by psychologist Edward Thorndike.

92% of people trust recommendations from their peers, and 70% of the consumers trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know (Nielsen, 2012)

Earned media powered by social proof and word of mouth marketing will always drive better results, up to 4 times better results than paid media. Now let dive into this powerful psychological phenomena and explore the ways you can use it in your marketing.

There are six types of social proof

  1. Expert
  2. Celebrity
  3. User
  4. The wisdom of the crowd
  5. The wisdom of your friends
  6. Certification

Social Media sharing and commenting on an article by is an example of social share

Social Share 

People are more likely to read an article that has been shared by thousands of people. So, show the number of shares on social media. It gives credibility to your claims and it will encourage even more shares.

However, a low share count can actually create a negative perception of your article. In fact a low share count can have a worse effect then no share count at all. People might think the content you are providing isn’t quality enough. 

Instead of displaying every counter separately thinking about showing a total number of shares across all social channels. 

If you have a high subscriber count, show it off. Show the people how many fans you have of your content. 

Website elements can sometimes distract visitors. Using A/B testing we saw a 11.85% increase in conversions by removing social share buttons on landing pages. The key is to know when and where to use social proof.

Testimonials and Reviews

Displaying the quotes of past or present customers is one of the most used and effective forms of social proof. The addition of a high quality photo will boost the perceived credibility.  Take it one step further by recording someones experience.

According to PEW 82% of Americans read reviews before making a buying decision. We are also paying more attention to the negative reviews than the positive ones. A healthy mix of both positive and negative reviews creates more trust and can even improve conversions.

Reviews should be encouraged but its best to allow them to come naturally.

Endorsements from Influencers

The power of endorsements. Try giving your product away for free to people with a high social reach within your niche. Ask them for feedback. Since these influencers have a positive reputation, people tend to associate that positivity with your product. This cognitive bias is known as the halo effect.

If you have a hard time getting your product in the hands of a Kim Kardashian, try using direct quotes from them instead. Even if the quote isnt directly related to your product, showing a quote released to the bigger picture of your nich can have a positive effect on your product via the halo effect.

Customer case studies

Tell an in-depth story of how some of your customers use your product. Provide a meta-analysis on how your service improved a certain metric. Case studies not only provide social proof but also all other potential clients to imagine how your service can help them.

Marketing data, analytics and customer case studies influence buyers behavior.

Statistics

Expose your visitors to raw numbers. The larger the number the better. Anything from your mailing list, customer base, number of downloads or any other relevant statistic you can think of. Use them everywhere, in your bio, on social media and in your ad copy.

The key is to remind potential customers that a large crowd is using your service – and what is good for them must be good for me. 

WordPress uses a perfect example of this tactic by posting the following headline on their landing pages.

“WordPress powers 28% of the internet.”

Using exact numbers instead of rounded numbers will make the statistics seem even more believable.

Brand Advocates

A brand advocate is someone who can help spread the word of your brand through word of mouth marketing. Identify people who have a strong affiliation with your brand. These can be past or current customers, employees, business partners or influencers.

Make time to constantly review and onboard new member to your advocacy team. 76% of people say they are more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people.

New brand advocates can be gain threw a strong customer service model. However your advocacy team must be nurtured.

Additional Proof

A study found that a one-star increase in Yelp ratings led to a 5-9% growth in sales (Luca, 2011).

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