In India we believe happiness is an emotion that multiplies when shared. It is now proven to be true. Emotions expressed online are wired literally! Meaning the feelings, we pour out on various online platforms are contagious. These emotions spread like wildfire, especially happiness, concludes a recent Facebook study conducted at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine with the help of software.
This fact is also underscored in a Buffer piece by Courtney Seiter, 7 Social Media Psychology Studies That Will Make Your Marketing Smarter, which begs the question –
What is Social Proof?
“Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that causes us to be naturally inclined to trust other people’s opinions and let this influence our behaviour,” explains Manish Dudharejia in 6 Easy Ways to Build Social Proof and Incorporate It into Your Website in an article for Single Grain, a digital marketing agency.
Influencer marketing has gained immense currency in recent years. However it is by no means a novel concept. There have been literally hundreds of studies carried out in the past that pass a clustered verdict on ‘Influencer Marketing’ – it works. In a Solomon Asch conformity experiment – 1951, a psychologist by the name of Asch also managed to prove that #crowdthink or #groupthink is a big-time influencer, recognised by experts who study human behaviour.
For the marketing perspective, it undoubtedly can be used as a powerful tool. It can indeed be used as a catalyst for clearing cobwebs in the mind of “probable customers”. Brands can simply show them what “other customers” want or think about a brand, or a service, thus eliminating the risk of ‘brand self-promotion.’
The ‘Proof of the Pudding’
Here are some figures to drive home the point:
Ethan Jakob Craft reports in AdAge’s 5 Key Takeaways from The 2019 Edelman Brand Trust Survey – 81% consumers confessed that ‘trust’ counts as a major factor that stimulates their buying behaviour. More startling – a majority of these respondents regarded brand advertising as deceptive and unreliable.
According to Bright Local in Local Consumer Review Survey, 76% of consumers are generally willing to trust even an unfamiliar person’s opinion on the web, if it seems to be a genuine user experience.
Quoting the above survey by Bright Local, Dominique Jackson in Social Proof: How to Use Marketing Psychology to Boost Conversions in for Sprout Social, hurries to clarify that on average most consumers read at least 10 web reviews before making a buying decision.
Nearly 57% of customers will only purchase or use a business service if it has a minimum of 4-star rating.
For half of the customer circle, the immediate response to an affirmative review about a company is to check out their website.
Need more proof?
Here are a few more social proof examples that if you can learn from, can chart your business to the next level of growth. Mind you all these strategies are organic wherein you don’t have to blow up huge marketing budgets. If applied cleverly, these can be especially beneficial to SMBs. So let’s begin with the fundamentals.
Brand Fitbit has empanelled experts from healthcare and tech industries to wax eloquent about the superior quality of their products under the “Buzz” section of their website. The brand finds a mention in HubSpot’s 20 Examples of Social Proof in Action in 2020 by Sophia Bernazzani, who praises its high-credibility factor.
Integrity is an important factor as it adds a lot of weightage to the brand’s claim about itself. The premise is that ‘if so and so is saying so and so about a brand, what the brand is saying about itself, must also be true.’ It makes sense and it makes a consumer confident about that brand’s espoused attributes. Actually this could be the reason why Fitbit is rated as the top fitness tracker in the market.
The most genuine confirmation however comes from user reviews and testimonials. A brave approach is to go totally honest. On the company webpage, publish uncensored content from all customers and not just fake-sounding glowing tributes that an average customer can easily see through. For instance The Pearl Source, an e-retailing luxury, jewellery brand went on to upload a keyword laden (when possible) with quotes culled from user review section to mark-up the trust factor in its brand. They painstakingly gathered over 7,000 verified-user reviews from the pool and ran those on their website and various product pages – unfiltered! This instantly established social proof. Very soon, the brand came up higher on organic Google searches, thus pulling in more traffic to the site.
Social media marketing services can creatively club this influencing style with their other social media marketing campaigns. The only condition is – publish nothing but honest feedback.
Advised by Friends and Family
This one never fails!
The most popular digital platform is Facebook page, the world’s largest aggregator of personal information on brands and their consumers. It suggests Pages and write-ups to users based on their friend’s interactions with other brands. This format of social proof rightly assumes that building trust in people is easier than building trust in brands.
Word of Mouth Report by Chatter Matters declares that recommendations by friends and family are one of the most effective and evocative forms of social proof. Almost 83% of consumer base in their study agrees that their purchase probability of a product or service is higher when it is suggested by a near and dear one.
Just think about it! One happy customer can multiply into many happy customers and there is literally no spend on this.
Follow the Crowd
It is also called the “Wisdom of the Masses”. The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) psychology has an amazingly impact on the millennials. Have you noticed how Netflix “uses the user trends” by suggesting new movie and TV content based on your past choices? This is what leads to binge watch. Using social proofing, Netflix is able to cleverly retain and entertain its customer base.
‘Persuade the User’ comes easy to social media marketing services that specialise in their application of this ‘social proof’ strategy.
The bottom line is – you can create lots of ripples in still waters if you learn the ropes of these social proof examples that we discussed.