With the number of products and services available on the market these days, it can be hard choosing which one is best. If you can’t use price, product specifications, or features to help decide, how do you make the right choice? Or how do you know that the product you’re purchasing lives up to the promises made by the company?
To answer these questions, many people are turning to social proof to help them decide which products to buy. They look to customer reviews, expert opinion, and other proof that the product is of the quality promised and the company is credible and reliable. Because if they’re going to spend their hard-earned cash, they want to make sure it’s worth it.
So, what is social proof?
Social Proof is the evidence provided by customers or other third parties that your company provides high-quality services or products and does what you say you’ll do.
Social proof includes things like:
- Reviews on sites like Google, Facebook or Trustpilot
- User Generated Content (UCG): content created by your customers sharing how much they love your brand, or what’s good about your products
- Product reviews from non-related third parties
- Dialogue in the public domain, including thought leadership and participation in forums or Facebook groups
- Features in notable and trustworthy publications.
It can also include other things like celebrity endorsements, the number of followers you have on your social media accounts, and engagement on your posts, as well as industry awards and certifications.
Social proof can also be content you’ve created yourself based on customer experiences with your brand, like quotes, video testimonials, and case studies.
Why is social proof important?
Many consumers have become quite sceptical of ads. They’re savvy to the fact that brands will put their best foot forward. And, with the internet, people are able to do extensive research to find products or services that best meet their needs. Even with the best advertising campaign in the world, people will still do a Google search to make sure you can be trusted – especially for high-ticket items.
As part of this research, they’ll look at what other customers have been saying about your brand, how well your products work, or how good your service was. With the amount of choice available they’ll also likely look for the ‘best of xxx’ to narrow down their search and see if your product is included in the list.
So, when it comes to building trust with potential customers, you need proof from your current customers that your product or service is better than your competitors.
Another aspect of why social proof is important and effective comes down to human psychology: if other people are doing it, we’re more likely to do it too.
How to get social proof for your product or service
While some social proof may happen organically, especially if people really love your brand, you’ll often still have to stoke the fire a little. And, as the saying goes, if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.
So, if you want people to leave you a review on Google or share their experience on social media, the best way to do this is to ask – and make it easy for them.
Here are a few tips to solicit social proof:
- Send a post-purchase email asking them to review the product or service they just bought. This could be directly on your own website or on Google. Make sure to include a link that takes them to where you want them to leave the review. You can get a link for Google from your Google Business Profile, once you’re logged in.
- Ask your customers to provide a testimonial or participate in a case study.
- Encourage your customers to post pictures or videos of them using your products to their social media account (this is an example of user-generated content (UCG)). Create a brand hashtag for them to include in their post and get them to tag your brand to make these posts easy for your customers to find. Then, reshare them on your own social media channels too, making sure you credit the original poster.
- Work with influencers. People look to influencers for product and service recommendations, so find an influencer that matches your brand and has an audience that matches your customer profile that you can build a relationship with to help share your products or services. The key here is to make sure the relationship feels natural and the endorsement feels authentic.
Depending on your business, there may be ways to incentivise creating social proof. One example is a campaign that encourages your customers to share pics of themselves enjoying your product on social media in exchange for the chance to win a prize or a discount on future purchases.
And, if you have a loyalty programme, you could provide points for leaving product reviews on your website. That means that with every review you get a little more credibility, while they get a little closer to their next reward.
How to use social proof in your marketing
Once you have social proof being generated, don’t be shy about using it in your marketing activities. If people are following you on social media or have subscribed to an email newsletter, sharing this positive information means its front of mind and helps build trust.
Here are a few ways you can integrate social proof into your marketing:
- Integrate Google Reviews on your website. There are plenty of widgets that will allow you to customise the feed so only the good ones (four stars and above) are listed on your website.
- If you’re a B2B, list a selection of your customer’s logos on your website.
- If you have done a case study on any of these customers, or they’ve provided a quote or testimonial, you can link to it and make them easy to find on your site.
- If you’ve won any awards or received any industry recognition, this is worth adding to your website. Also post it on social media at the time you receive it.
- Share customer quotes and testimonials (with their permission) on your website and as part of your social media plan.
- Like and share the content your customers are creating on their social media channels on your own.
- If you’re reviewed in an industry publication or otherwise positively mentioned in the media, share this with your audience.
- Include customer case studies in your social calendar and email newsletters.
- Use video testimonials in your advertising, and post video testimonials and case studies to your public YouTube account and social media, making sure you re-cut or reformat as appropriate for each channel. Video testimonials make great remarketing/middle-funnel ads!
What to do if someone leaves you a bad review
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or no matter how good your product or service is, you’ll get a negative review. Someone may be having an off day, have a bone to pick, or something has genuinely gone wrong. This means bad reviews can sometimes crop up.
Just like you want to acknowledge the good reviews, you have to acknowledge and respond to the bad. There are three ways to approach this, depending on the situation.
1. If the review is false, you can report the review to the site it’s posted on, and they’ll usually remove it pretty quickly.
2. If it’s a genuine review, the best course of action is to see if you can contact the person directly to try and rectify the situation. Once they’re happy, ask them to update their review to a more positive one or remove it completely.
3. If it’s a real review but you’re having no luck getting them to change their mind, simply post a genuine, detailed account of your side of the situation with the invitation that you’re willing to make it right.
When it comes to online reviews, people are not just looking at whether people are complaining about the product or service – and what that complaint is about – but also at how the company responds to those complaints. If it’s one negative review in a sea of positives, most people will give the company the benefit of the doubt, especially if they have responded with a genuine offer to rectify the situation.
If your product or service is genuinely good, social proof will be easy to elicit and people will be happy to share their positive experiences. If you’re looking for a little extra help building up the social proof for your business, get in touch with Flow today.
How Flow can help you build your social proof and use it to grow your brand
If you want to start creating social proof or learn how to more effectively use any social proof that’s already been created to build trust in your brand, get in touch with the team at Flow.
Flow has helped clients in New Zealand and abroad and can help build a strategy that will increase the volume of social proof and help you seamlessly integrate it into your marketing plan.