What is Social Proof?
We know that most digital marketing methods are based on the way human psychology works. The concept of social proof is yet another example where psychology meets digital marketing. Social proof is a term in psychology that is used to explain people’s tendency to observe social behaviors around them to adjust their own behavior or to make a decision. You know how you observe people’s behavior when you enter a room, go to a party or enter a store? That need to understand how people act in a certain environment or group is what we call social proof. And, we also use it to make decisions when we are shopping.
The Concept of Social Proof in Online Shopping
How does the concept of social proof manifests itself in our shopping decisions then? Let’s say you’re shopping, and you have three options, but you simply can’t decide. So, you think it’s a good idea to check the product reviews. You see that the first product got 4.5 out of 5 stars and lists more than 1000 comments, while the second product got an average of 3 stars and lists less than 200 comments. The third product hasn’t been rated yet and there are no customer reviews. You would probably buy the first product, right? So, when we’re shopping, the concept of social proof is at play because we have a tendency to look for other people’s opinions, experiences and prior decisions about any given product. In other words, we are looking for social proof to make sure we make the right decision.
How Social Proof is Used in Digital Marketing
Of course, brands know that customers make decisions based on product reviews, i.e., social proofs. So, they make it easier for customers to access these social proofs. That’s why most online stores and marketplaces encourage their customers to leave product reviews and rate their shopping experience. The product reviews are the most obvious example of how social proof is used in digital marketing, but there are other marketing methods where the concept of social proof plays a key role. Here are a few examples:
Sharing customer content on social media
Some online stores encourage their customers to share their experiences on social media platforms under a single hashtag, which helps stores to both enrich their content online and to show their potential customers how happy the existing customer base is with the service they get. The fact that this content is created by the customers rather than the brand itself, makes it more organic and believable.
This method is mostly used in the apparel, footwear and accessories industry, which also gives potential customers the chance to see the products worn and used by real people so that they can get an idea of the sizes, etc.
Most online shopping platforms have a dedicated blog page where positive customer experiences are shared in detail. This method is used in experience-based product categories like skincare, IT, luxury fashion, etc. and helps potential customers find out how the service can benefit them. Although this is a more useful method for brands that offer more personalized products and services, it can be successfully implemented to most online stores and brands.
References from reliable brands
In industries like IT, content creation, advertising etc., providing services to big brands can be used as a social proof element. A brand that has served reliable and well-established brands can use their logos and testimonies with permission to show their potential customers that they are a reliable service provider.
Awards and press coverage
Most brands also have a dedicated corner on their webpage to display the awards they have collected as well as any press coverage they have got over the years, which is also an effective social proof element to instill trust in the customer.