Almost two billion people log in to Facebook every day and find friends recommending products and services in their News Feeds. Instagrammers often follow influencers who share sponsored posts in collaboration with brands they love. A significant portion of YouTube content is product reviews.
Those are all examples of social proof in action.
In the past, we might have called a friend for advice or searched for an answer in Google, but social media has made social proof part of our every day. It’s something we don’t necessarily seek to find at a given time, but we are exposed to it quite naturally.
What is social proof? According to Wikipedia, when people find themselves in situations where they are unsure of the best route forward, they’ll look to others for clues concerning the correct behaviour. It’s closely related to the concept of social influence, where the influence of others leads us to conform and seek acceptance and likes.
Why is social proof important in marketing?
The answer is obvious: social proof gets your business more sales.
Everyone has purchased something through a friend’s recommendation. Most people have bought a specific birthday gift for our kids (or nieces and nephews) just because a celebrity and all (cool) friends are already using the product. If I have to name one thing from my childhood, Nike Air Jordans was one of the many must-haves in my school.
How do you show social proof?
A considerable part of the social proof is invisible to brands. Friends, relatives, and peers recommend us products when we meet them for a coffee or hang out in private groups and chats online.
However, as a marketer, you can help to ignite discussions online. Engaging your employees and partners to share branded content and participate in online discussions is one of the best organic ways of spreading the word. Coupons and referral programs can give your customers that final push to share their positive experiences with friends. And obviously, traditional media channels like TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, and display advertising still have their place in the marketing mix. Therefore, the best use for marketing dollars is to fuel the word-of-mouth marketing simultaneously in multiple channels online and offline.
However, thanks to social media channels, much of the social proof can be visible and shown online. With social proof embedded on your website and other digital services, you increase credibility and drive conversions.
Here are four ways to show social proof using social media:
- Customer reviews
- Influencer marketing
- User-generated content campaigns
- Event hashtag campaigns
1. Customer reviews
Customer reviews are easy to find online. Google, Yelp, Amazon, and TripAdvisor are well-known examples of consumer platforms to find peer recommendations for products and services. As a marketer, you can increase the number of positive reviews by actively commenting (be nice!) and encouraging your most engaged customers to share a review.
Social media channels are customer review engines in steroids. Because of the built-in viral mechanisms, the recommendations spread from friend to friend – sometimes for months and years without an end in sight.
One of the best ways to encourage sharing is to broadcast your branded hashtag in all marketing materials, from websites to email newsletters. If you happen to have a physical product, don’t forget to add the branded hashtag and your call-to-action to the packaging, too.
One of the best examples of showing customer reviews is the Instagram widget embedded on the Hilton Grand Vacations website. The brand engages their customers to share vacation moments with the hashtag #myHGV.
2. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing has been part of our lives since the first magazine ads, movies, and TV shows. Product placement, celebrity endorsements, and sponsorships fund a massive part of sports and entertainment.
But social media has taken influencer marketing to the next level. In addition to celebrities, brands can work with micro-influencers followed by niche audiences because they share the same interests or live locally.
One of the fascinating examples of micro-influencer marketing is built by La Centrale du Sport. With their innovative platform, local sports teams can collaborate with global sponsors. Teams get rewarded by promoting a campaign hashtag through their social media channels. So, for example, a local football team might have new jerseys sponsored by global brands like Unibet.
3. User-generated content campaigns
User-generated content campaigns are an excellent way of increasing social proof online.
For the past ten years, I’ve had a front-row seat to follow 1000s of our clients organising them – the successful UGC campaigns share some of these key ingredients:
- Spark emotions: People share content on social media because they care about something or someone. When building your campaign, spend some time researching your audience and finding a common theme that sparks emotions. Your customer support team usually has a lot of insights.
- Be specific: Make sure your call-to-action is specific and to the point. Make it easy for most customers to participate.
- Tap into the themes that your audience loves: Are there certain parts and features of your service that your customers love? What are the common interests for your customer demographics? Is there something relevant locally? The holiday season is usually an excellent place to start.
- Make it fun: Adding a bit of fun to the call-to-action increases the chances of success. Easy things like asking your audience to share favourite places where they use your products and services might add a unique twist and some humour to campaign entries.
Opus Art Supplies, an arts and crafts webshop, is one of my favourite brands actively organising UGC campaigns. For inspiration, have a look at their Community page featuring the recent competitions and stunning artwork from their most loyal customers.
4. Event hashtag campaigns
Because of the global pandemic, most events were moved online in 2020 and 2021. It meant that most of the engagement before, during, and after the event took place in social media channels instead of the closed conference rooms.
It’s now easier than ever to engage experts in sharing their thoughts and your branded event hashtag. You can tap into the expert knowledge regardless of their geographical location.
For more inspiration, learn why every event needs a social wall.
Examples of social proof
Here are some of the best examples of social proof in action.
GoPro: Reposting user-generated content
GoPro, one of the most innovative camera brands, gathers customer reviews with the #GoProAwards campaign. They ask their most active customers to share a video or photo taken with the GoPro camera and then reward the best ones with coupons to their webshop. On their Instagram account, they repost some of the best entries, and with the Flockler technology, display a live-updating feed of images and videos on their website.
Intersport / ASICS: showing product reviews on the website
Intersport and ASICS have something in common – they are keen to increase the awareness of the new shoes and drive shoppers to the webshop. Therefore, a joint campaign with the hashtag #upliftingminds makes perfect sense.
Engaging customers in sharing product reviews with a hashtag is an excellent way to increase the reach on social media channels and add social proof to your websites.
JayPeak Resort: peer recommendations from holidaymakers
Before booking your next holiday, searching for reviews on Instagram is the perfect place to start your research. Holidaymakers love to share their experiences – if nothing else but to make their relatives and friends jealous!
JayPeak Resort is one of the travel destinations adding social proof to their website. An Instagram carousel embedded on their websites displays the variety of activities the resort offers and how guests enjoy their time.
Vivadogs: strengthening the membership with social proof
Vivadogs, a subscription service for dog owners, engages its members in sharing images with the hashtag #vivadogs. Who wouldn’t love Halloween-themed photos with the most loyal friends?
How to add social proof to websites
Case studies are incredibly powerful lead magnets, especially in B2B marketing.
However, creating case studies requires thoughtful and inspiring copy text, visuals, and (usually) approval from your customer before publishing. Often, companies seek to create evergreen case studies that they can use for a more extended period.
With social media, you can make the social proof dynamic on your website. For example, instead of creating content yourself, you can create hashtag campaigns and gather reviews from experts, influencers, and customers.
With Flockler, you can automate the social media content gathering process. The setup doesn’t require any technical skills, and you can display curated social media feeds in any digital platform.
Here is a three-step guide on how to add social proof to any website:
- Gather social proof with automation
- Select the display layout
- Embed social proof on any digital service
1. Gather social proof with automation
The first step is to start gathering social proof from social media channels. Add call-to-actions to your website and all marketing materials for customers to share their reviews and feedback with the branded hashtag.
Then sign up for Flockler’s 14-day free trial and set up automated feeds gathering social media content mentioning your branded hashtag. Some of the most popular channels are Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. You can add a form to your website and allow your customers to upload their reviews as well. Here’s the full list of social media feeds available with Flockler.
2. Select the display layout
The next step is to decide how to display your social proof once the entries start coming in. With Flockler, you are in full control, and you can moderate all the feedback and reviews before displaying them on your site.
Flockler has four different layouts for you to choose and you can create an unlimited number of them. For example, you could create a carousel showing social proof on your homepage, add a grid of reviews to your product page, and display a slideshow in digital screens in shops and at the office. All layouts are included in the same monthly fee, and you can fully customize their look & feel.
3. Embed social proof on any digital service
After selecting your layout, Flockler gives you an embed code. You can add the embed code to any digital service, and there are absolutely no developer skills needed. The embed code automatically shows the chosen layout and updates with new content over time.
You can embed Flockler on any website. Here are step-by-step tutorials on how to add Flockler to some of the most popular website builders and webshop platforms: