When was the last time you hired a contractor for a home improvement job based on a friend’s recommendation? What about that new restaurant just around the corner? Your co-workers went last week and raved about the app menu. Worth checking out, right?
Social advertising — recommendations from friends and family — isn’t new or newsworthy. Whether you call it word-of-mouth marketing or social proof, it’s free advertising and it’s good for business.
In 1984, Robert Cialdini coined the term “social proof” in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. According to Cialdini, “we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree we see others performing it.”
The digital world presents many opportunities to leverage word-of-mouth marketing in new and exciting ways. From recommendations on Facebook to the wildly addictive TikTok, we can now gather information from more than just our friends and family.
The influencer economy — those folks who review and recommend products for a living — is built on trust. Current research suggests as many as nine out of 10 shoppers are influenced by online reviews and recommendations.
Social proof happens everywhere online. Are you leveraging social proof on your website? Research shows that more than 60% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase from a retailer with product ratings and reviews on their website. Customer endorsements, media mentions and awards are powerful influencers in the online shopping world.
Before you panic that you’ve missed something important, you likely have a lot of social proof waiting to help potential customers choose your business over a competitor’s.
Let’s look at the many ways digital social proof can help build your business:
6 ways to use social proof in your digital — and traditional — marketing
- Customer testimonials. Possibly the most powerful social proof on the planet: credible, reliable and effective. Third-party tools like Yotpo and Bazaarvoice will help you collect reviews and display them on your website and social media channels.
Remember, a third-party resource ensures your credibility and authenticity to consumers as those tools require you to publish the whole review as is, no editing allowed. Place your testimonials on product pages, for sure, but you might also want to consider using a select few stand-out reviews on your “About Us” page as well.
- Ratings and reviews. Similar to testimonials, ratings and reviews are most often collected on your social media channels. Each time you make a sale, consider asking your customers to drop a review on your channel of choice: Facebook, Instagram or maybe Pinterest. Screenshot those reviews and use them on your website, in newsletters and in print marketing campaigns.
- Media mentions. When your business (or you or a member of your staff) is mentioned in a local paper, trade magazine or industry blog, remember that powerful content can elevate credibility. Consider placing snippets on key landing pages with links to the original content, of course.
- Influencer endorsements. A celebrity mention might be the holy grail of endorsements but don’t ignore the power of social media influencers. A highly followed blogger that regularly writes reviews on products can help move the buying needle in big ways. And sharing those influencer endorsements on your social media channels and website lengthens — and strengthens — the shelf life of the original mention.
- Badges and awards. If you’re required to have certain qualifications or certifications in your industry — or you’ve been awarded a nomination or honor — promote those events on your website and social media.
- Research and case studies. Writing about customer challenges you’ve solved will help communicate your expertise to customers who may be considering your products or services. Remember that you’ll need customer permission to write a case study — which will help strengthen the relationship and possibly lead to additional referrals.
Investing in research that helps solve customer challenges — or collaborating with other businesses in your industry — positions you as a leader who cares about their consumers. As with other social proof, use this content everywhere. Everywhere!