Humans are social beings and that’s why you can expect them to make decisions in isolation. This is especially true when it comes to shopping. Both men and women, young and old, from across the globe, tend to rely on external signals as guidance to take actions and the action of other people happens to be one of the strongest signals they can rely on.
This is not something new, but the fact that people are now using the Internet to make purchasing decisions means that marketers have to adjust their strategies to the new age. Including social proof, marketing is one of the pieces of a successful strategy like that.
What exactly is Social Proof and what makes it important?
Mentioned for the first time back in 1984, in Rover Cialdini’s book called Influence, “social proof” is a term that describes a social and psychological phenomenon in which individuals copy the actions of other individuals as a way to accept certain behavior in a given situation. Now let’s explain this with the help of an example.
The fact is that it’s not very difficult to find shoes that are as good as (or even better) compared to many of Adidas’s models that cost less than the models of this brand. But, Adidas has been using celebrities and athletes as a form of social proof. If Beyonce is praising Adidas, then I am making a good choice by buying a pair of these shoes – an average customer might say. Many other popular products work in this way.
On the other hand, if the product or service you are offering is a little bit popular, with the right social proof marketing campaign, you might be able to create a trend, or should we say a hype, that will make more buyers consider using your product/service. Obviously, it’s easier for established multibillion companies to take advantage of this method, but even small benefits can benefit from it with the right approach.
With the help of social proof marketing, you can build brand trust. This is very important for those who are trying to establish an online presence. Customer behavior can be described as anxious and even suspicious when people are deciding whether they should purchase products/services online from a relatively new or anonymous brand. Additionally, with this approach, you can create excitement and build a community of satisfied and loyal customers.
Now here’s an important question especially after unpleasant global events like the recent COVID-19 pandemic (which is still spreading around the world). Of course, consumer behavior is changing even without this kind of event. Many successful marketing methods used 50 years ago are now abandoned and ridiculed. What’s important to understand here is that customer behavior is changing all the time and only by adjusting your marketing strategy, you can expect success.
At this time, people are more prepared to spend money on groceries, snacks, home entertainment products, personal care products, and household supplies compared to jewelry and footwear for example. But, what does this mean for your social proof marketing effort?
Since more and more people are staying at home, it’s more important to invest in online social proof marketing campaigns. Positive reviews on your website or specialized review websites are becoming more important. Surely, you can’t affect these reviews before they appear on the Internet in another way than simply providing high-quality services/products.
However, you can learn from these reviews and find out how to improve your business. Also, you can provide replies to these reviews regardless of their content (positive or negative). This will make customers see that you care about their opinion.
Brand ambassadors and influencers
It would be great to look for brand ambassadors like online influencers followed by your target audience. Celebrity and influencer endorsements are great. Even local influencers can be helpful. Remember that we are living in times where people want to hear the opinion of others. Another way to adjust to the new customer behavior through social proof marketing is by investing in your social media profiles. Create sponsored posts via Facebook, Instagram, or other social media networks. Remember to target the right audience for your business.
If you want your business to be seen, you have to allow people to share your content. Social buttons are highly recommended for any business website. Add these buttons on every page and check the results after a while. There’s something that you should remember here. In case there’s a low number of shares, it might be a good idea to remove these buttons because they might do more harm than good. There’s also a way to hide the number of shares, but this is also a double-edged sword.
Think of social proof as a modernized version of word of mouth. It’s what encourages people to show interest in specific items and services and ultimately purchase these goods. It is how human nature works. There’s a good reason why street artists are putting a few banknotes and coins in their tip jars before they start performing. The same goes for charity boxes found in many stores.
Social proof has existed in one form or another for many decades. However, the impact it has today is the highest in our history. We have the Internet to thank that. Back in the days, it was not that simple to create a trend or to make something go viral.
Now, with the help of the Internet, these things can spread in a matter of minutes among millions of people across the globe. Since the world is becoming a global village, you can rest assured that these things will become even more frequent soon. Using social proof marketing techniques is a smart way to support your brand.