Have you ever used the reviews from other people online to make up your mind about a product? That’s social proof at work. The average consumer wants to see what other people think about a brand, more than the brand’s message.
This is why you need to invest more time into gathering as much social proof as possible for your new online business. The textbook definition of social proof is that it is a psychological phenomenon where people copy others in the belief that the crowd’s opinion is the best. If dozens of people are praising a service or product, more people feel comfortable about using the same service or paying for the same product.
It is no surprise that 92% of online consumers look at reviews before they pay for any product. Additionally, reviews are trusted 12-times more than product descriptions or sales copy from a manufacturer.
This article will cover how you can build social proof for any online business and increase your conversion rate.
Tap into Customer Testimonials
Testimonials are one of the most effective forms of social proof. When you consider the fact that more than 80% of customers trust testimonials online, you can understand why companies actively solicit them and display them boldly on their websites.
If you have positive testimonials from happy customers, show them off on your website and social media pages. Don’t have any yet? Ask for testimonials from your existing customers. Offer an incentive they can’t ignore. Remember, the average customer will not leave a testimonial if they were satisfied with your service. Give them a nudge! Don’t forget to put a face to the testimonials to make them more powerful.
Find all Social Media Mentions
Your social media mentions are important. In the early days of your business, you may not get more than a dozen mentions per week. However, what you do with those few dozen mentions will go a long way to determine if you will get more in the future!
If you find any negative social mentions, do not ignore them. It is your chance to make a customer happy. As you handle the mention, other social media users will see the interaction and form an opinion about your brand. With positive mentions, show appreciation to the user and share the mention with your followers. You can also use it on your testimonials page.
Reacting to positive mentions also helps you to spread the word about your brand, but more importantly, it makes the social media user feel good about praising your brand. This increases the likelihood of them becoming some sort of brand ambassadors for you.
Create Case Studies
Whether your brand is in the B2B or B2C niche, case studies are powerful forms of social proof you can’t ignore. They are lengthy and in-depth content used to highlight how your brand solved a problem for a customer. Many businesses have a section for case studies on their website because it is the go-to page for most customers looking to see exactly how they stand to benefit from paying for a particular product or service.
Your case studies page should be a catalog of projects you have worked on and the problems you have solved. With this, you are showing that your brand can be trusted to deliver while also highlighting customers that have trusted you in the past.
Highlight Media Coverage
Did you land an interview with any respected publication? Was your product reviewed by any top blogs? Highlight this on your brand’s website. When you visit some websites, you will find logos of top media publications listed towards the footer area, often under the heading “As seen on”. This is another example of social proof.
If your activities thus far have not generated much attention, you can actively seek interviews or review opportunities from such reputable brands. Getting interviews may be difficult, but there’s no dearth of media brands that will do a review of your product or service, with the right motivation.
Display Relevant Certifications
If your business has acquired many certifications, show them off on your website. Most brands that offer certifications have logos and badges you can use. If you don’t have any such certifications, you can find them with a quick Google search. As a new business, avoid costly certifications. Start with free or moderately priced options and work your way up. With every certification you acquire, update your “Homepage” and “About” section to reflect the new change. These are the two main places your customers will look for such information.
Additionally, you can display trust certificates. Options like an SSL certificate, Money-Back Guarantees, review site logos, etc. are excellent social proof options.
You can generate social proof for your new business by announcing every new milestone and celebrating it with your audience. There is no limit to the type of milestones you can celebrate with your audience. Some top examples include:
- Reaching a specific number of followers on social media
- Completing a certain amount of sales
- Reaching a certain number of app/software downloads
- Generating record-breaking traffic on a post
Encourage More Referrals
Referrals are a powerful form of social proof and an excellent way to market your brand. Encourage your customers to share your business with people in their circle. Word-of-mouth marketing works a great deal because many people trust the opinion of anyone in their social circle. However, most of your customers will only support your drive for more referrals if they are happy with your business. No one wants to recommend a bad product! To get more of your customers to spread the word about your brand with referrals, here are a few things you should do:
- Offer incentives for referring your services or products to your existing customers. This could be bonuses or discounts.
- Simplify the referral process. Make it easy for people to generate referral links/codes that can be shared directly from your website. Many people will ignore your incentives if they have to jump through hoops in your referral program.
Highlight Your Partnerships
Do you collect payments through PayPal or any credit card companies? Do you integrate well-known third-party solutions on your platform? Showcase this on your website by displaying the brand logos of your partner companies. This approach works because it shows prospective clients that your business is already trusted by other well-known brands. In essence, you are tapping into the social proof of these bigger brands and using it to grow your brand’s reputation.
Display the Size of Your Customer Base
Highlighting the size of your clientele is a great way to build social proof. If thousands of people already trust your brand, it will be easier for more people to do so. In the early days of your business, you may not have the paying-customer numbers to show off yet. Focus on other similar metrics like the number of subscribers to your email list, the total number of social media followers, etc.
Encourage social sharing on your website
A user sharing your content on social media shows that they trust your business. Their followers will see the shared content, and either click-through to the shared content or just keep your brand in mind as one that can be trusted.
This is why you should make it easy for your website visitors to share your content on social media. A good tip here is to use social sharing plugins or similar tools that will highlight the number of times a post has been shared already. If people see that many others have already shared your content, they will be more likely to read the content and also share it. This is another example of the social proof phenomenon playing out.
Create Content around Success Stories
Think of this as a more relaxed version of using case studies as social proof. You can create a collection of blogs, short videos, and interviews that chronicle a customer’s journey with your brand. Remember, you have to make these stories fun if you want them to be effective. The jargon or technical speak should be in your case studies alone, while success stories should be super engaging to read or watch.
Become a Trending Topic on Twitter
Becoming a trending topic on Twitter is a sure way to generate social proof for your brand while introducing it to even more prospects. You can achieve this by launching a Twitter chat. Encourage your prospects to join in the chat using a designated hashtag. As the number of participants increases, so will the chances of the hashtag making it to the list of trending topics.
A Twitter chat is also an excellent way to keep your customers engaged. You can use the session to answer questions, generate content ideas for your brand, hold competition and more. All of these will contribute to your social proof while generating more leads for your brand.
Social proof works because many people want to take advantage of safety in numbers. No one wants to be the first to find out if your business delivers on its promises or not, so they will look around to see what others think already. By using these methods of generating social proof as we have discussed here, you can get more people to trust your new business.
While growing social proof, resist the temptation to use black hat techniques as your business may not recover from the impact of getting found out. Don’t buy social media followers or fake views for your videos. Don’t create fake customer testimonials. Encourage organic social proof, and your online presence will have a stronger foundation.
About the author
Rithesh Raghavan is the Director at Acodez, a Digital Agency in India and the co-founder of Acowebs, an online store for eCommerce plugins. Having a rich experience of 15+ years in Digital Marketing, Rithesh loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development.