In his iconic 1984 book, Influence,psychologist Robert Cialdini focuses on the art of persuasion and the psychology behind why we are attracted to certain influences.
It’s here that Cialdini coined a very important term in today’s marketing landscape: the idea of “informational social influence,” or humans’ tendency to copy the actions of others.
This concept laid the foundation for a budding philosophy, or the assumption that in situations where we don’t know how to behave, it’s best to trust the actions of others.
In the world of marketing, the tendency for prospects to trust the word of others about a product or service is known as “social proof,” wherein they seek proof from social media or everyday folks that an offering is worthwhile.
In this post, we’re exploring five ways you can capitalize on your brand’s longstanding trust to your favor— to foster low-lift, high-value relationships with new customers.
Do reviews really matter? You’re darn tootin’ they do. Not only do many would-be customers look up testimonials about your product or service on popular reviews platforms like Google Reviews or Yelp before making a purchasing decision, but they also look for others’ opinions anywhere online.
While engaging on review-based outlets is ever-important, placing reviews directly on your website is a quick win for building social proof right on the shopping domain.
Instead of creating a “Reviews” webpage, gather some of your best text-based testimonials and splash them on random pages of your website. Whether you plant a scrolling testimonials bar under-the-fold on a popular service page or just dot one or two randomly-selected quotes on your homepage, don’t be afraid to show those great reviews often yet subtly.
Here’s an example from Florida sign maker US Sign and Mill, featured lower below-the-fold on their homepage.
Have you ever looked up an “unboxing” or “demonstration” video before purchasing a product? These clips show you an up-close-and-personal look at the item of interest, usually detailing key features and first-hand accounts from real users. There’s no denying that these videos can be helpful, especially during COVID times when you can’t always go out and see a product in person.
And it’s not just product reviews! Even those who offer services can be up for scrutiny behind the digital screen in comparison videos.
If someone’s talking about your product or service in a blog post, on social media, on YouTube, etc., share some of the terrific things they have to say about it directly with your audience either on your website, in emails, or on your social media. Even if they say a few not-so-hot things, it can be nice to show a transparent look at the pros and cons of your product and build brand trust to reveal the big picture without shame.
There’s also no need to record super “professional-grade” reviews and make it a big production! Adventure brand Chicagoland Skydiving, for instance, took a candid video of one of their first-time freefallers, which illustrates a great example of a social proof service review on their YouTube channel:
We see celebrity endorsements all the time for major brands or Instagram influencers promoting a product. While these forms of social proof can be quite effective, sometimes they can fall short.
Customers are smart, and if they suspect that someone was paid to say wonderful things, they’ll likely be less inclined to trust what the figurehead is promoting is actually 100% genuine. (Though, if you choose the right person for the job who truthfully supports your product/service and cause, this can be an extremely effective form of social proof!).
A better bet, however, may be to seek the endorsement of an expert in your field, revered by those in your industry for their specialized opinion. This person may have years of experience under their belt and a large following of their own, and when they say something’s great, their audience takes it as fact.
Here’s a great social proof example from food brand Monterey Mushrooms. The mushrooms growers teamed up with a highly-revered chef to create a recipe using their brand’s fresh fungi and shared a blog about it with both their communities. Mmmmm, can you smell the brand trust?
When your company is recognized for its excellence, chances are you’ll be featured somewhere online. If you’ve been honored with an award or achieve some sort of milestone in recognition, it’s totally worth sharing online. These upvotes show website visitors or social media followers that you are a force to be reckoned with in your industry.
If your business has earned approval from big name organizations in your field, don’t shy away from mentioning these too. This helps to build authority from trusted sources— once again, elevating social proof.
Whether your company leadership has been organically noticed for their expertise or your public relations efforts are paying off, letting others know that some folks find what you did newsworthy is another way to use social proof to build brand trust. Make sure that it really is newsworthy, though. If you don’t really find the feat exciting, your audience won’t either—and the fluffy piece can erode trust instead of building it.
Cybersecurity brand Mitnick Security Consulting, for example, often is featured on popular news sites when their CEO, Kevin Mitnick, weighs in with his expertise. As a leader with a long history in the cybersecurity community, Mitnick is often asked for his opinion or advice When he is, the Mitnick team shares it with their community— like this post.
These are all terrific, low-lift ways to earn your prospects’ trust, allowing others to endorse your brand for you. Check our more examples of social proof from HubSpot.
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