While there is such a thing as objective and material truth, the social consciousness of a fact is a completely different thing. Social proof doesn’t tell people what something is, but rather how other people feel about it. Our tendency for conformity does the rest.
This little psychological hack is often used semi-maliciously in politics but can have a good aspect when it comes to marketing all of the features in a service or product.
There are three benefits for social proof in marketing:
- Better explains the product
- Increases buyer confidence
- Adds an emotional component of community
Using these benefits means that new buyers don’t need to be converted to the product by a marketing department with clear and narrow goals, but can be converted by previous customers.
What is Social Proof in Marketing?
Social proof in psychology is a phenomenon where people tend to believe what a lot of people around them say. The logic is that hundreds, or thousands of people, can’t be wrong if they like or dislike something.
But, there is also an emotional component. We want to like things other people like, and similarly dislike what others dislike.
This applies to food, sex, activities, and thus to marketing as a whole.
For marketing, social proof is bringing in former or current customers to support your product in some way. It can also be allowing influencers and public personas to use and talk about your product.
Generally, when people see mass support by the vox populi for your product or service, they tend to want to know what all the fuss is about. And they are less afraid to make a bad decision because if they do they will share the said decision with a lot of others.
Basis in Human Psychology
Humans like thinking of themselves as ‘’higher’’ in the evolutionary chain than any other animal, and we are definitely the global hegemon when it comes to Terran species. But, there are only a few factors that distinguish us from any other simian species.
We are collectivist animals, and for a long time banishment from the tribe was the biggest punishment you could suffer. It was worse than death because it was not only physical but emotional as well.
That is why we like to conform to what others expect of us. We like being accepted and loved and taken care of. Such actions push chemicals in our brains that make us feel good.
Regretfully, what others choose is not always correct and there are cases where something becomes popular without any value behind it.
Aside from social conformity as a deeply human aspiration, there is also the benefit of casual information to your future buyers from those already experienced in the product. The best example of this is gaming ‘’let’s-plays’’ on YouTube.
Because the seller is often the expert in the field, they will use a slightly more complicated language used in the niche. But, a consumer with experience will talk in the language of other consumers.
They will know what people think is good and what might be the flaws. As such, they will make the product more appealing and easier to understand for anyone else. That is why it is good to ask for testimonials and comments whenever you can.
Influencers and Celebrities
Having an endorsement from an influencer may not be the same as a chorus of customers supporting your business. But, it can be equally influential for conversions.
As humans, we believe that our leaders, people who are for some reason chosen to speak publically, smarter, and better informed than us. This is why we trust them. Also, many want to emulate their idols and celebrities, which is often done by using the same products or services.
While the value of such endorsement is less in conversion than regular word of mouth, it is a great way to gain traction and to bring your product to a place people already like discussing matters.
Finally, the best thing about social proof in generating leads and conversions is the circulating interest that will make your product popular and used much longer.
A single marketing campaign is finite and it needs to end at some point. But, if enough people talk about your product and it is being discussed on online message boards and in comment sections, you will always get new people with questions and others with answers.
This way, the product in question can, quite literally, sell itself by bringing new people to the fold without the need for the company to draw them in.
At the highest tier of this phenomenon, there is the status of a ‘household name’, meaning that you don’t even need a commercial for people to know about you. Such is the case, for instance, with an iPhone.
You don’t need to see a commercial to trust how the ‘’new iPhone’’ is a good product. That idea is circulated outside of the company by the throngs of loyal fans of the device.
Social proof is currently necessary to build customer trust in your service or product. Because there is a lot of competition currently in any niche, buyers want to know that they are not being fooled and that you can provide what you are selling.
And they might not trust you. Honestly, every business will talk good about their own product. What they want to hear are people who have no need to be affiliated with your brand supporting you.
For such a task, you will need to show testimonials, showcases, or public endorsements by people with credibility on the line. All of that information for the customer will make them convert easier and faster, and with less time spent by the company.