Conversion | 4 min read

Aug 26, 2018

Applying Social Proof to Your Business

Have you ever thought about your daily decisions and how you take them?

What made you decide to buy a certain flavor of ice cream? Why are you drinking a boba milk tea instead of a regular cup of coffee? Are you also buying the same brand of clothes than your friends?

One of the strongest forces influencing our decision for what to buy, where to go and how to do things is called social proof. When you are surrounded by people, the behavior they exude also heavily affects yours. Wherever you are and whatever you do, as long as there are people around you, they can and will influence you in many ways.

In the business setting, social proof is an essential selling power. But it can also cause a business to die down. When people show negative social proof about your business, then the others are more likely to consider your brand to be the one to avoid.

But what exactly is social proof?

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon. It refers to the decisions that people make based on their reliance on the actions and feedback from other people. It can be closely related to social conformity. When others draw a conclusion, then the next person that falls in the same given situation will immediately assume that the conclusion given by the first persons was correct.

Think of reviews and testimonials. Some people rely on other customers' feedback to determine whether they should push through in buying a product or a service. Due to the technological advances of modern Web technology, real feedback from customers is easily accessible - which makes social proofing both essential and dangerous in every organizational setting.

It doesn't matter if you are a bank, a mall, a grocery store, a toy shop or an online service provider. If you cater to the needs of people, then social proofing is definitely something you need to look into carefully.

To help you further understand this point, here are three forms of social proof weighing heavily on the internet nowadays.

Celebrity Endorsements

A celebrity endorsement is one of the most classic forms of social proofing. An endorsement from a highly paid celebrity or from an A-lister can skyrocket your traffic within days of your launch. You can clearly see this among famous endorsers like Kim Kardashian or Natalie Portman. The products they advertise usually boom up.

Expert Opinion

Asking a prominent person or an expert in the field to talk about your business, brand, product or service is another effective way to use social proofing. A leader or a voice of authority in the industry can heavily influence the purchasing pattern of consumers. For example, a popular fitness instructor can recommend a brand of weight loss supplements and easily persuade his or her social media followers to try the product.

Wisdom of the Crowd

These are also considered as "Product Popularity". This simply speaks of how popular a product is based on the number of people who talk about it.

Customers voice out what they like about their purchases. The more customer stories there are, the more proof there is that a certain brand or product is getting more attention over the others. Now, top that up with real numbers of their sales, and then more people will be attracted to buy their products and follow their brand.

Now that you know what social proof is, you need to study the proofing strategies that will work for your business. Note that not all social proofs are created equal. So implementing one without testing it will not guarantee results. Study different techniques and learn how to present them.

If you think one strategy works, continue to optimize it. If not, then go back to the drawing board, plan and try again. The most important thing here is that you never give up. Social proofing leads to conversions. If you have finally found the right strategy, then go ahead and implement them.


Greg Hickman