Consumers are frequently skeptical when considering making a purchase from a company with which they lack a rapport. Making a purchase with a new company is a risky proposition, and customers have many misgivings.
Remember when you were afraid to even use your credit card online?
Remember buying a product not from Amazon?
Will the product or service work as advertised? Will I be able to get a refund? Is the business, product or service a lemon? It’s difficult for a lead to fully trust a business they have no contact with before, because they’re all too aware that businesses exist to make money.
Fortunately, there’s an antidote to these misgivings: social proof. Social proof gives leads and customers comfort that they’re not about to waste their hard-earned dollars, and that your products and services aren’t lemons.
What Is Social Proof?
Social proof is essentially any positive and credible review that didn’t originate from your business. Customers telling other customers how great a product or service is exemplifies social proof. Word of mouth is frequently touted as the most powerful form of advertising, and for good reason.
People trust their friends, families, and communities more readily than they trust a business, because their friends and families don’t have a monetary stake in the customer’s decision like a business does. Because money is taken out of the equation and the information comes from a third party, the review or recommendation is much more powerful.
Testimonials are an extremely powerful variety of social proof. People engage with businesses because they’re looking for a solution to their problems. But sometimes, instead of solving problems, dealing with a new business creates even more problems. Having to deal with customer service, returns, and poor quality products and services is a real pain in the neck.
But testimonials help build trust with new leads by proving how well your business solved other people’s problems who are in the same boat as the lead. It helps the lead think, “If it worked for them, it will work for me too.” There’s only one catch: they have to be authentic. If you fudge your own reviews, leads can usually smell something fishy and ultimately distrust your business.
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Product and Service Reviews
Some websites and YouTube channels exist solely to review products and services. For instance, just run a Google search for “best VPNs for ___” and look at all the review pages that pop up. These websites usually monetize their websites by giving honest and authoritative reviews, and then getting a commission on sold products via an affiliate link.
Furthermore, some YouTube vloggers perform similar reviews, albeit in a video format. Reaching out to these websites and vloggers is a good way to boost social credibility, though they’ll almost never do it for free. In exchange, you can offer them some of your marketing budget, or even trade guest posts and guest appearances on your channels.
Age of the Business and the BBB
The age of a business speaks a lot about its quality and success. After all, wouldn’t you much rather make a purchase from a trustworthy business with a quality reputation that’s withstood the test of time than a shaky new startup? If you’re running a fairly new business, don’t worry – you can bolster your social proof with accreditation.
You can visit the Better Business Bureau, find your local chapter via your zip code, and ask them to develop a report on your business. Some specific industries also have certification programs, awards, and standards bodies. If you can earn the reward, be sure to post it on your website loud and proud.
Social Media Comments, Mentions, and Hashtags
Social media is, of course, a source of social proof. It could be something as small as a positive comment on the content you posted. On platforms like Instagram and Twitter, a user may tweet or post and tag your business with a favorable hashtag. If you can create a unique hashtag to get users posting about your business, your social proof will multiply as the hashtag spreads through networks of friends and followers.
Despite the fact that Facebook and other social media platforms have like buttons, even though the button copy is “like,” it doesn’t necessarily indicate that a user liked the content or post. Sometimes people punch the like button because they thought it was emotionally moving, funny, or outrageous.
Nevertheless, more likes on a post, while not necessarily indicating likability, do indicate popularity. People, especially on social media platforms, love to follow trends and be “in the know.” For that reason, higher numbers of likes correlate with higher social proof.
How to Get Social Proof
Now that we have an idea of what social proof is and how it helps your business’s digital presence, let’s take a look at some actions you can take to boost your business’s credibility to consumers. Take the following actions to help leads validate their choice to engage with your business:
Reach out to influencers in your industry or niche and ask for an honest review
Query the BBB to review your business
Proudly communicate to your audience how long you’ve been in business (if it’s a significant amount of time)
- Ask customers for reviews - remember, most platforms don't allow you to incentivize clients for reviews, so be careful if you promise anything in return.
Post genuine testimonials on your landing pages
If reaching out to your audience and influencers in your industry for social proof seems intimidating, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Plenty of business owners don’t know how to appropriately go about increasing social proof and managing their digital marketing campaigns.
In fact, many small business owners don’t have the time to manage their digital presence because of the demands of running a business. But failing to take advantage of social media and digital marketing is a huge mistake.