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Social Proof: How to Maximize its Impact on Your Brand’s Online Presence

Amie Parnaby
27/12/2022
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There are many ways to grow your brand. But if you’re looking for data-backed, proven-to-work strategies, the most important thing you need to focus on is building trust between your business and your target audience. The most influential of these tactics is, without a doubt, social proof. –

These days, achieving this is easier said than done because we’re living through a so-called “crisis of trust”. Yes, almost 60% of people distrust organizations (including businesses) by default. Consequently, gaining consumer’ confidence requires a great deal of work. The good news, is that there are still a few super-effective methods brands can use to prove their authority, credibility, and benevolence. By showing their prospects that they’re trustworthy and dependable entities that deliver on their promises.


Research on Social Proof

According to research, word-of-mouth marketing is the most convincing format of advertising you can employ. Nielsen found that 89% of consumers trust social proof. BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey revealed that 77% of people ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read reviews when browsing for local businesses. ReviewTrackers recently discovered that people engage with online reviews more than ever, with interactions increasing by 50% since the pandemic. According to PowerReviews, including UGC has the potential to improve conversions by 8.5%. Meanwhile while UGC interactions result in a whopping 100.6% conversion lift.

While it may be clear that social proof profoundly influences your brand’s reputation (and its success at attracting and converting customers), it’s nest to consider strategies for making the most of it. So, if you’re interested in maximizing the impact of social proof in your brand’s online presence, here are the tactics that will allow you to do just that.

Get the Most Out Of Your Earned Media

Showing off the logos of publications that featured your brand is an excellent (and easy-to-implement) way to prove your brand’s credibility. 

This strategy relies on the premise that your target audience already trusts authoritative publications in your industry. However, showcasing earned media has tremendous potential for transferring some of your prospects’ trust in those publications to your brand. It’s an excellent way for you to provide some evidence of your solutions’ effectiveness. And it’s a great strategy to create an association between your brand/products and a certain positive quality.

Media Mentions

Knowing that 92% of consumers trust earned media, it’s a low-hanging fruit that any marketer can use to boost brand credibility and improve website conversion rates.

But here’s the deal. Noting that a popular magazine mentioned your business works well enough. Yet, it’s nowhere near as effective as allowing your web visitors to see precisely what those publications had to say about your brand and solutions.

So, when working to maximize the impact of social proof in your brand’s online presence, do your best to take media mentions to the next level. 

For example, you can include links to the content that mentions your products. Better yet, you can show relevant, curated extracts addressing specific benefits potential buyers gain by investing in your solution.

Check out how Arlo Skye employs this tactic below the hero section of its homepage. Featuring quotes from publications like Condé Nast Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, and Architectural Digest, the business presents web visitors with positive things magazines have said about its solutions. But more importantly, note from what publications the brand chose to pull quotes. By associating itself with the three magazines in question, Arlo Skye positions itself as a top-tier luggage brand focused on impressing first-class world travelers looking for sleek design and high-end functionality.

Source: arloskye.com

Social Media Listening

As you endeavor to get the most out of media mentions, don’t forget to set up effective sourcing mechanisms that will allow you insights into the conversations surrounding your brand and your solutions. 

Something as simple as setting up Google Alerts for relevant keywords can help you receive notifications for any content that mentions your business. 

And, if you want to take things a step further, you can also employ social media listening software. Then, you can screenshot, repost, or reply to any post that mentions your brand. For example, take a look at how January did it below. This strategy is particularly beneficial for businesses trying to enter competitive industries or present inventive solutions, as it allows them to use the momentum that comes with each earned media mention to boost brand recognition.

Source: twitter.com

Associate Experts With Your Brand

Resources concerning social proof often highlight the effect peers and influencers have on consumers’ purchasing decisions. They point out that people look to those closest to them — be that friends and family or people they follow on social media — for purchasing advice. But new findings from Edelman reveal that there is one group buyers trust even more than the people nearest to them: experts.

According to the resource, 66% of young consumers trust scientists, and 58% have confidence in the recommendations of brand technical experts.

Source: edelman.com

Knowing this, do your best to find the right spokespeople to provide social proof for your brand and solutions.

Technical Experts

For example, if you have a company blog, you can do something similar to Medical Alert Buyer’s Guide. For their “Best Medical Alert Systems” post, this brand got a registered nurse to review the content. The approach doesn’t just ensure that the information presented in the post is factually correct. Even more importantly, it allows the readers consuming the content to know they can rely on the article to deliver verified, genuinely beneficial guidance on helping senior citizens lead a safe yet independent lifestyle.

Source: medicalalertbuyersguide.org

Influencers

And hiring qualified content reviewers isn’t the only way to associate experts with your brand. You could also reach out to and collaborate with influencers whose target audience and values align with those of your brand. 

Or, if you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, you can do something similar to ChiliSleep and seek endorsement from hyper-relevant figures in your industry. Knowing that the people most likely to be interested in improving sleep and recovery are athletes and fitness enthusiasts, this business chose to come together with NHL teams to present the benefits of its solutions. Thanks to this approach, ChiliSpeep generated several instances of social proof, all exceptionally effective at convincing potential customers of the value of investing in sleep and recovery tools.

Source: chilisleep.co.uk

Don’t Phone In Your Testimonials

Displaying customer testimonials on your website is an excellent way to impact your brand’s reputation positively. But even though there’s nothing wrong with showing plain-old reviews, it’s also not a bad idea to explore ways to take your website testimonials to the next level.

The great news is that you can do this in several effective (and budget-friendly) ways.

For example, instead of just showing off the star rating of your business/solution, you can go a step further and spotlight positive reviews. And you can further elevate these by including a name, a photo, and the credentials of the person who submitted the positive feedback, which is precisely what Menlo Coaching does on its homepage. 

Source: menlocoaching.com

Or, if you run an eCommerce business, you could allow reviewers to upload media like images and videos along with their feedback. This is an excellent way to enrich your product pages with user-generated content, which 79% of consumers find impactful when making purchasing decisions. 

If you check out the Nomad website, you’ll see that this brand successfully utilizes this tactic. Some of its product pages feature as many as several hundreds of traditional reviews and dozens of accompanying photos, unboxing videos, and “X days later” images showing how the items wear and perform long-term.

User generated content is an ideal method of social proof

Source: nomadgoods.com

Finally, if all this sounds like too much work for you, you could also do what BetterStack does and set up an automated feedback-gathering system that sources customer reviews straight from social media. It’s an authentic way to show off social proof, as it doesn’t include any “manipulation,” so to say, of customer feedback. Plus, the fact that each testimonial is clickable allows website visitors to further check the authenticity of the reviewers’ experiences, solidifying the brand’s reputation as a dependable and trustworthy business.

Social proof is perfected using genuine reviews and tesitmonials

Source: betterstack.com

Create FOMO Through Urgency, Scarcity, and Live Sales Updates

Most marketers perceive fear of missing out (FOMO) as an emotional marketing strategy. And while the label does fit — after all, appealing to consumers’ negative emotions has been proven by science to impact purchase intent positively — it’s important to remember that this format of emotional conversion-boosting tactic is based on the principles of social proof.

At its core, FOMO is people’s natural reaction to social influence and herd behavior. 

For instance, when they see a lot of individuals in their vicinity using particular brands and products, consumers will gravitate toward the same brands and products when the moment comes for them to make a purchase. This is why fashion trends go mainstream or how particular solutions, like EV chargers, become go-to items in their specific industries, making electric cars more appealing.

So how does this tie in with using social proof to invest in your brand’s reputation? Well, it’s simple. Rather than telling your prospects to hurry up if they want to snag one of your products, create FOMO-inducing social proof through urgency, scarcity, or real-time sales updates. Show people that they genuinely could miss out if they don’t act fast.

Scarcity

For example, if you want to inspire impulse purchases or position your products as aspirational commodities, you can display the number of items you have left in stock. Or even better, you can label “limited offer” products, like on the Amalgam Collection website. This will prove that people need to act fast if they want to snag one of them. 

Source: amalgamcollection.com

Urgency

Alternatively, you can inspire potential buyers to act not by creating a sense of urgency but by showing them what they’re missing out on. For example, if you check out the Klaviyo homepage, you’ll see that the brand displays the amount of money its customers have saved while using its SaaS product. It’s an excellent way to use social proof to awaken FOMO. And, considering this particular brand’s reputation and popularity, it’s safe to say that it’s an effective conversion-boosting strategy.

Statistics show proof of success

Source: klaviyo.com

Live Sales Updates

Finally, if you’re selling fast-moving B2C products (which are, ideally, impulse purchases). You can use real-time sales updates as a way to create FOMO. This gives web visitors the feeling that you run a busy, trustworthy store and that they need to act fast if they want to snag one of your sought-after products for themselves.

When implementing this tactic, it’s a good idea to provide as much detail about the transactions as possible. Do what Book Depository does on its homepage and include customer locations and product details in the update. The info will add a dose of authenticity to the notifications and inspire people to convert.

Watching people shop is a perfect example of social proof

Source: bookdepository.com

Publish Case Studies and Tell Customer Success Stories

Displaying positive customer feedback is a great way to use social proof to boost your brand’s reputation. However, if you targeting professional customers,remember that the B2B buying journey is complex, lengthy, and heavily based on information.

With this in mind, consider using data-based social proof formats, like case studies and customer success stories. Case studies will allow you to present your prospects with valuable data reports filled with real-life information. They will also educate potential buyers about the following:

  • What pain points can they expect to solve by investing in your products/services
  • What the implementation process will look like for specific pain points
  • The timeline of acquiring sought-after outcomes (along with any bumps or hiccups that may occur along the way, which they need to be prepared to deal with)
  • Results they can expect after a predetermined time frame
  • Proof of the effectiveness of the solutions you offer

B2B – Social Proof with Data

To see a solid example of a B2B brand utilizing case studies as social proof, check out Bloomreach. This brand regularly publishes updates on what its customers have managed to achieve by using its solutions. The brand employs a beautifully designed template for its case studies, which includes sections dedicated to outcomes, challenges, and customer quotes. All of these contribute to the convincing power of the reports.

Use Social Proof in Case studies

Source: bloomreach.com

B2B – Enrich with Statistical Data

To make case studies even more convincing, you could enrich them with stats and numbers. This is what Omnisend does on its Customer Stories page. It describes in detail the processes its customers used to achieve results. However, the brand also provides measurable outcomes, like the revenue-per-email, open rates, and click rates customers achieved by using its product.

Experiment with more channels

Source: omnisend.com

B2C – More Informal

You could also go with a more informal approach to customer stories, like the one on the FE International website. It’s a great alternative to more traditional case studies, as it allows satisfied clients to describe how your solutions helped solve their needs. Moreover, this is a super authentic way to employ social proof and utilize it to boost your brand’s online presence.

Social proof using testimonials

Source: feinternational.com

Get Your Brand Certified by Industry Authorities

As you explore ways to maximize the impact of social proof in your brand’s online presence, don’t forget that, in some cases, the best way to prove your authority is by showing that you’ve been validated as a competent, trustworthy business by relevant authorities. 

Displaying certification badges you’ve earned is an excellent way to tell website visitors that your claims are genuine. Moreover, these trust signals communicate that you’re prepared to follow through on any promises you make. This helps customers overcome their conversion obstacles and encourages them to invest in your solutions.

For instance, if you check out the ATH Sport website, you’ll notice that it contains a mix of custom and 3rd party badges. These inform potential buyers of the brand’s commitment to selling clean and high-quality products. The North Shore Lifeguard Association and BSCG certifications stand out in particular. However, the fact that custom illustrations support them makes them that much more convincing.

Social proof using endorsement from noted authorities

Source: athsport.co

Final Thoughts

Getting the most out of the social proof on your website sometimes requires creative solutions to guarantee that it’s genuinely contributing to your brand’s credibility and trustworthiness.

No matter how difficult this may seem, remember that it’s a worthwhile investment. Not only because great social proof sells. Most importantly, it allows you to build a brand predestined for growth and success. Simply showing that you’ve made your customers happy in the past and you’re committed to continuing into the future.

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