Social proof can be one of the best ways to get people to engage with your brand. While small businesses work hard to educate their clients and prospective clients about who they are and what they offer, consumers tend to trust what others say about you vs. what you have to say about yourself. To take advantage of this, here are a few tips on using social proof to increase website engagement and get more business.
Why social proof matters to small business owners
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. In other words, it’s showing approval of your brand from others, and it is one of the most powerful techniques there is in marketing. It’s the idea that consumers will adapt their behavior according to what other people are doing. According to Neil Patel, while it might be a time-honored advertising strategy, leveraging social proof is just as relevant—if not more so—in today’s world of digital technology. According to research published in 2018, as many as 81% of smartphone users research products and services on their devices. They’re looking for recommendations, testimonials, and the trust that comes with social validation. This is exceptionally powerful for small businesses who may lack the resources for larger budget marketing tactics. Many social proof activities take little or no money; simply your time and the tenacity to keep focusing on garnering more social proof for your small business. While a related tactic, word-of-mouth or referral marketing for small businesses is powerful, social proof goes beyond referrals and can do much more to reach prospective clients.
Statistics that illustrate the power of social proof
Need more convincing that garnering social proof is worth the effort? Check these statistics out, as illustrated in a social proof article by A Better Lemonade Stand:
- People turn to online reviews for their social cues more than ever, with 85% of customers trusting them as much as personal recommendations.
- Compared to branded content, 92% of consumers will trust recommendations online, even from people they don’t know.
- 49% of customers say they would need to see a positive online review before working with a company.
- Every one-star improvement in Yelp rating “tends to lead to an increase of 5-9% in revenue.”
A few more fun facts about social proof
- Nearly 70% of consumers rely on online reviews before making a purchase
- Product reviews are 12-times more trusted than product descriptions and sales copy from manufacturers
- 86% of female shoppers say they put the most trust in product recommendations from real people — either industry bloggers or people they know — more than celebrities.
- 60% of consumers prefer to make purchases from brands they are familiar with.
Social proof WORKS!
Generating social proof for your small business
Getting social proof for your products, service or brand doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ve put together a comprehensive list on ways to obtain social proof for your company. The more you can do, the better, but even a few of these can make a big difference!
Product reviews and service ratings
We’ve been preaching about the merits of getting customer reviews for years because it’s WORKS. People trust reviews from other people, especially people they know. That’s the model behind Yelp and other review sites. The better you can get on asking for reviews for your small business, the more social proof you’ll build up for your brand. Using customer reviews to market your business is big!
Testimonials from happy customers
One report found customer testimonials to be among the most powerful content you can have on your website, with a content marketing effectiveness rating of 89%. That’s impressive! Unlike reviews, which are often about a specific product or service, testimonials tend to be more about the company as a whole and also tend to be more benefit-oriented such as “This company saved my 40% by helping me set up and manage a CRM.”
Celebrity endorsements from your community
Celebrity social proof typically takes the form of a celebrity using a product and promoting it on social media or in public. This form of social proof is especially meaningful if the endorsement is unpaid. Sure, if you can get Justin Timberlake to endorse your product, that’d be pretty sweet but honestly, local “celebrities” can have a lot of pull too! That can mean a public official like a mayor or governor, the owner of a prominent business in town, or someone active and well-known in your community. It all helps!
Expert social proof adds credibility
OK, assuming “JT” is available to tout your small business, you still have access to experts in your industry. When we buy something that we’re unfamiliar with, we often defer to an expert’s opinion to see what they have to say about the product or service. If a product has been reviewed and recommended by an expert in the relevant field, we are more likely to trust that review and think highly of that product.
The crowd mentality and how it encourages people to follow
Have you ever visited a product website and noticed a widget that flashes how many people have just bought that product? How about going to a travel site and seeing that 12 people booked that hotel in the last 24 hours? That’s crowd mentality or following the wisdom of the crowd and it’s powerful! If you sell a product, look for widgets that leverage this; it’s very convincing for site users who see it and don’t want to miss out on the next big thing!
Need more examples of social proof? Here are a few more from Optimizely:
- Photos and testimonials from customers
- Company names and logos, particularly from recognizable and well-respected brands
- Customer case studies
- Research or other statistics
- Seals of approval from well-respected organizations
- Number of followers on social media platforms
- Download and purchase counts
- Listing the number of customers
Using social proof to increase website engagement and ultimately purchases is a savvy way for small business owners to grow their business. Take time to add this to your strategic marketing plan and see what kind of results your small business gets from this effort.
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