How social proof is the key to authentic social media marketing

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In a world where we are constantly being bombarded with advertisements, it has become increasingly important to find ways to break through the noise and get people’s attention.

Marketers have been finding new and creative ways to do this for years by utilizing social proof as a psychological phenomenon where people are influenced by what others say or do.

User-generated content is content that is created by users of a product or service. It helps to build trust in the audience because they believe it is more authentic than any other form of “marketing”!

In this article, we’ll discuss what UGC is. Also, how marketers can successfully use social proof in campaigns. And how it can be an effective way to advertise their products and services, so let’s get to it.

What is user-generated content and how is it connected to social proof?

Let’s talk about what UGC is. User-generated content is any form of marketing in which the audience creates the message themselves and shares it online.

Whether that be through things like a vlogging camera, Instagram pictures, reviews, or social media tweets, this includes anything that involves creating content.

UGC helps marketers reach audiences because it builds trust and credibility. These are things customers are looking for when researching products to buy!

Before social media apps like Twitter, Instagram, Amazon reviews, Reddit posts, and YouTube were around, people had to rely on testimonials. These are about certain products or services, good old word of mouth.

Nowadays with platforms like social media and instant messaging apps at their fingertips, people have become more skeptical of advertisements they see online for fear of being tricked by false statements made by brands, which puts more pressure on customer retention.

One way to stand out in the crowd of advertisements is to create authentic UGC campaigns!

This can be done by having customers post pictures or videos on their own personal social media accounts. Marketers can also ask them to write reviews for products they already purchased. This makes it seem more trustworthy to consumers.

As marketers, this opens up a whole new opportunity for us to reach more audiences. These would be the ones who aren’t connected with our brand on any kind of social media platform.  All we need is their email address and permission.

How does social proof affect marketing campaigns?

In order to have a successful campaign, marketers need to feel confident that they can pull it off. They may struggle with this if they don’t have a lot of resources or time on their hands. Mostly, like smaller start-ups typically in SaaS.

As marketers, we can use the power of social proof as an opportunity to create authentic UGC campaigns by asking customers for help in producing content!

In fact, 92% of consumers trust online content from friends and family above all other forms of marketing, and a whopping 10% increase in conversion by just adding social proof in the purchase path!

One way we can do this is by having customers post pictures or videos on their own personal social media accounts.  This is f they agree, of course.
Marketers can also ask them to write reviews for products they already purchased.  This will make it seem more trustworthy to consumers.

By asking customers for help in producing UGC, marketers are projecting an image of patience and understanding. And amongst this, they are also making the audience feel appreciated by involving them in the process!

Also, getting customers involved is super important because it helps you gather information about your target market, which is key to powerful marketing in the first place.

You can do this by asking them questions like: What problem were you trying to solve before buying our product?

Or, what benefits did our product provide you with?

This leads to my next point: how companies can create content for their products and services essentially for free.

Companies can post pictures and videos on social media or even articles on the website. These pictures highlight the benefits of their product used by the customers in action.

Instead of having the perfect product images and features that look overly promotional, you now have user-generated content that speaks volumes and resonates with the target audience.

This is also helpful for the consumers because it saves them the headache of having to figure out all the details about the product or service themselves when deciding what they want!

Remember, no one cares about the features as it’s just jargon in the way of making a purchase. How does your product BENEFIT them instantly?

This type of social proof also helps brands seem more personable — like a friend instead of a corporation, which people tend to be wary about spending money with.

There is a saying that people buy from people first, and it holds true even more in today’s social media age.

As marketers who understand the power of UGC now, let’s use it as an advantage so we can help build trust and credibility with our consumers.

By doing this we’ll become more successful at marketing our product or services.

Benefits of using social proof as a marketing strategy

So far we understand that social proof is extremely important in any marketing strategy, but exactly what are the real benefits of implementing UGC?

  • Content generated by users is seen as being more authentic and credible.
  • Builds massive trust and raving fans of the product or service.
  • Allows you to gather information about your target market.
  • Influences purchase decisions.
  • Free marketing content generated by users.
  • UGC has a massive scale that encourages organic traffic.
  • Builds a community and brand loyalty.

Now that you’re aware of what user-generated content is and how it helps marketers break through the noise using social proof as a psychological phenomenon, let’s get into some real-life examples of huge brands doing it right!

Examples of successful UGC campaigns!

Part of successful marketing is creating the right image about the brand, product, or service. People are influenced by what other people say about a certain thing before they make their own judgment. This is why it is important for marketers to get customers involved in creating authentic content for their brand.

To explain this further let’s take a look at some examples of how companies used social proof right in order to achieve massive success.

1. Starbucks

In 2014 when social media was just starting to gain massive traction, Starbucks decided to host a little drawing contest on Twitter.

People were invited to create original artwork that would be turned into a limited-edition cup design which would then be sold in stores.

The campaign was titled “White Cup Contest” and the rules were simple: post your own unique drawing on a white Starbucks cup, get it approved by Starbucks, get retweeted by the official Starbucks Twitter account, get your tweet tagged with #WhiteCupContest and you would be automatically entered in to win.

People began flooding into the conversation which generated thousands of tweets, pictures, and even videos. These were users submitting their designs, and the campaign created massive exposure for Starbucks. It also solidified their brand and love with customers all around the globe.

2. Aerie

Being a lingerie and swim suite brand, Aerie decided to make a campaign where they would showcase customers wearing their clothing.

They created the Instagram tag #AerieREAL which was used solely for consumers submitting photos of themselves using the products. The idea behind this was to show that real people can wear Aerie just as well as models with the photos being unedited.

The emotional responses from the customers were that they all had positive things to say about the brand. It’s because of how comfortable their clothing felt, which attracted new customers who wanted that feeling too.

Aerie also donated $1 for each unedited, raw, and real-life photo tagged with #AerieREAL to the National Eating Disorders Association. This was in hopes to give everyone around the globe a positive outlook on how they feel about themselves which led to the campaign being even more successful.

Each photo submitted was tied to a greater cause, making the UGC campaign a huge success!

3. Coca Cola

In 2011 Coca Cola came up with the brilliant idea to print over 150 common names on the labels with the campaign “share a coke”.

People loved the idea because everyone could relate to one of the names on there. Also,  people found it cute that their friends would randomly order bottles with their own names on them.

This tactic is an excellent example of social proof marketing. It’s because customers have a sense of belonging to something by ordering the same bottle as someone else.

The campaign was a huge success and people started to share photos of them drinking cokes. This massively increased exposure and brand loyalty, solidifying Coca Colas in the global market even more.

All of these campaigns were extremely successful in getting customers involved and helping to create authentic content for the brands. Not only did this help with marketing, but it also helped with building trust and credibility for the brands.


What is social proof content?

Social proof content is user-generated content. It is created by users of a product or service, as opposed to being created by the company itself. UGC is often more trusted and credible than other forms of marketing. It is because it’s seen as being more authentic, builds trust, credibility, and raves fans of the product or service.

How do you develop social proof?

Developing social proof is more than putting out content on social media channels or even strategically using email marketing.

To build trust you need to systematically commit to “social proof” strategies daily, week after week, and month after month. Think of it like building a tight community of raving fans.

How important is social proof?

Social proof is extremely important, as it helps to build trust and credibility with customers. When customers see that other people are buying from you, they are more likely to buy as well.

Wrapping up

Social proof is a great way to break through the noise in your marketing campaign.

When you leverage this, instead of producing all of the content yourself, it can be seen as more authentic and credible. User-generated content builds trust with customers. This is to ensure they are willing to buy from you when they see other people doing it too!

Which UGC campaigns do you love from the above examples?

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