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What is social proof and why is it important?

December 11, 2013.

social proofSocial proof certainly sounds like another one of those phrases that marketers use to talk about a new cool ‘thing’ that everyone’s doing. In reality, social proof has been part of our sociological make up for thousands of years.

Essentially, social proof is a psychological state where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect the correct behaviour for a given situation. It’s a type of conformity that leads to compliance and is often referred to as herd behaviour or the bandwagon effect.

It’s a powerful concept for marketers as we can leverage social proof and build trust to aid increased conversions. Here are six ways to leverage social proof in your marketing:

1. Reviews

Especially powerful for organisations with ecommerce websites, reviews with demographic data (age, gender) encourage visitors to connect with profiles similar to themselves when considering a purchase.

2. Best Selling Items

Products that are listed as ‘best sellers’ tell the customer that this is a popular product with other customers. If a large group thinks this is a worthwhile purchase, the customer is encouraged to trust the majority.

3. Customers Also Bought

Familiar to those who’ve shopped on Amazon, this social proof mechanism tells the customer what others have bought with this product – therefore suggesting that the customer will also be interested based on their purchase/search history.

4. Testimonials

These not only show the breadth of your offering and customer base, but they also reinforce your ability, which is essential for building trust. Many organisations cite ‘personal recommendation’ as their main channel for new business, so it makes sense that we actively encourage this type of social proof in our marketing.

5. Social Shares

Online authority can be measured by how customers engage with brands, whether it’s re-tweeting or liking a post on Facebook. The number of times something is shared increases its social proof and means it is more likely to be consumed and shared in future.

6. Press Coverage

Demonstrating that industry leading titles value your product/service/opinion is a great way to leverage social proof as customers look to these titles to not only raise awareness and interest but also act as a catalyst for action.

By understanding your customers, their buying cycle and what triggers conversions, you'll be able to apply these techniques to your own marketing. For more information about how social proof can integrate with your existing marketing, get in touch by emailing customerservice@mackmangroup.co.uk.

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