Social proof is the 2020 version of street credibility. It’s hard - dare we say impossible, to operate as a business and not have some sort of presence on Facebook, Linkedin and Google My Business. If your company doesn’t have a website or Instagram profile, does it really exist? Digital platforms are here to stay. It’s about time for you to start leveraging their full potential and start building social proof by integrating them into your marketing strategy.In this post, we’ll discuss what role social proof plays in customer relationship marketing and how your business can benefit from social currency. We’ll also share basic social proofing tactics that will get you off the ground and running in no time. And there’s more:
In today’s post we’ll cover:
- What is social proof?
- Social currency and its effects on individuals
- Social proof and the role of social media
- Social currency and brand loyalty
- How can your business gain social currency?
- Different ways to social proof your brand
- The role of user-generated content
- Ways in which your business can benefit from social proof
What is social proof?
Social proof, a term coined in a 1984 study, is a social and psychological phenomenon. Researchers found that individuals tend to copy other people’s behaviour when they themselves are uncertain of what is the correct way to think or behave. This can affect the choices we make in life and our personal preferences, because we choose to conform rather than following our own intuition. And yes, it also affects our purchase decisions.“As customers we buy products that make us feel good about ourselves, products that change us and make us better. By using social proof in the form of testimonials, reviews and trust icons [companies are] helping customers make a decision, feel confident about their choice, and a part of something bigger.” Talia Wolf, from GetUplift
You’re not exempt from the effects of social proof
Just think about how many times you personally have found yourself in a position where you’ve followed a trend or went to an event because you got FOMO the year beforehand. Or, that time when you bought your new couch table from an unfamiliar brand, because they posted cool stuff on Instagram and had hundreds of thousands of followers. That is social proof, live in action. Before we make a purchase decision, we want to know what others think of this product or service.92 per cent of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations from their peers over any other type of advertising.We all are constantly attempting to “save our social currency”. Instead of following our own guts, we act in a way that will make us look good in the eyes of our peers. When we share information, we risk losing our reputation and spending our social currency. Since a huge chunk of our communication is nowadays happening online, that’s also where a lot of social proof is to be gained - and lost.
Social proof and the role of social media
Brands that are “socially rich” have amassed a significant amount of followers, fans or subscribers. Every piece of information you provide through your channels, shapes your identity as a company and builds up your social proof. How “rich” you are in social currency is directly related to how much influence you have, both on social networks and offline.The effects of social proof are amplified when prospects have never tried your services or products. At this point, they’re easily influenced by the opinions of your followers and fans on social media.
Social currency and brand loyalty
One of the biggest drivers of social proof is brand loyalty. Social proof is all about creating a sense of community, and in doing so, establishing a strong link between brands and their customers. This connection is a core driving force for active brand advocacy: People that love your brand and feel that they’re a valued part of your community, are more likely to recommend your products and services to their friends and family. 53 per cent of consumers’ brand loyalty can be explained by social currency.Increasing your brand’s social proof makes your brand more trusted and relatable, so when the time comes for your audience to make a purchase decision, you’ll be the obvious choice. Moreover, brands with a high social currency command a price premium.
How can your business gain social currency?
The power is in the hands of your audience. But where does that leave you? If you now feel the pressure rising, be aware: There are many ways in which you can engage with your customers and prospects to influence the outcomes of their behaviours. Each consumer who likes, shares, and endorses your brand online or offline, lends their credibility to it. To build social currency in a way that consistently drives revenue, your brand needs to provide at least one of the following benefits to your audience.
- Affiliation. Creating a sense of community.
- Conversation. Engaging in the customer conversation around your brand.
- Utility. Creating value for customers, while helping them become more socially relevant.
- Advocacy. Developing strong feelings of loyalty to a brand, to the point where customers recommend and even defend it.
- Information. Sharing valuable information.
- Identity. Providing customers with their own identity in a group.
The different ways to social proof your brand
Start by asking yourself: What makes your brand interesting to your audience? How do you create value for your customers? What are you doing to stand out from your competitors? Any action you take, will help you build your social currency.This may include having solid customer reviews on your website, socials and your Google My Business profile. It also involves any type of client interactions on these platforms. If someone asks a question under one of your posts or sends an inquiry via email, how long does it take you to get back to them? Are you staying cool, collected and supportive until their problem is resolved?
Here is an example: You run a successful inner city restaurant. A loyal customer asks via Instagram when you’re planning to reopen for dine in once coronavirus restrictions start to lift. In this instance, you should reply promptly with a date - if you have one set. If not, be honest and transparent. Explain your circumstances and thank your audience for their continued support. Either way, let it shine through that you’re eager to reopen, but that the health of your staff and guests has the highest priority.
Here’s what social proofing your marketing strategy could look in a traditional sales funnel:
Step 1: You’re encouraging potential customers to consider your product or service by sharing valuable content based on their needs and interests on your social media feeds and stories.
Step 2: Once they’re hooked, you lead them to make a purchase decision by offering them incentives, such as a special discount for first-time customers.
Step 3: Now that they’ve made a purchase, you give your customers a way to show loyalty by referring you to their family and friends.
Step 4: A few days later, you send them an email with a request for their feedback.
Amazon leverages their audience size to grow its social currency. By encouraging people to post a review and displaying them as ‘xyz’ customer reviews with product descriptions, the company helps its sellers appear more popular and trustworthy. This fujifilm instax mini film, for example, costs a whopping $25 RRP, but with 148 reviews and a 4-star rating, social proof makes up for the premium price and plenty of people purchase it.
The role of user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is content created and published by a brand's fans and followers. It can include videos, blog posts, images and social media posts or stories. Usually, these contributions are unpaid (influencer posts are the exemption). Why should you care about UGC? Remember how we were discussing moments ago, how important recommendations by friends and family are for people? Well, user-generated content is how you can leverage the power of peer-to-peer recommendations to build your own social proof. User-generated content is five times more likely to influence a conversion than the content you create with professional resources. In the eyes of your audience, UGC simply appears more authentic and trustworthy. It promotes engagement and builds brand loyalty. 86% of millennials say that UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand.Consumers’ willingness to share has great brand-building potential. Once your audience realises that you’re sharing their content on your profiles, they’ll create and share even more content in the hope that it’ll get picked up by you. After all, they’re also just trying to build their social currency.
Glassons is a great example for user-generated content put to good use. When you’re shopping online it can be hard to tell how clothes will actually look on a normal body - as opposed to a size 0 model. Glassons solves this problem by including images of customers wearing the product you’re looking at. It’s a smart solution that’s not only incredibly helpful for shoppers, but inspires the brand’s audience to continuously post pictures of themselves in Glassons’ clothing. And, it drives social proof, both on the customer and brand side.
Ways in which your business can benefit from social proof
Here are some of the main reasons why you should invest in your social currency:
- Increased brand awareness
Social proofing your business’ marketing strategy, means investing in relationships with your customers and prospects. It’ll automatically expand the impact of your marketing activities and grant you access to a larger circle of influence.
- Greater insight into your target audience
As your social currency begins to grow, you will gain greater insight into the relationships between you and your customers. You’ll also gain a clearer understanding of the wants and needs of your audience, and be able to identify gaps in your marketing strategy and manage your brand’s reputation more effectively.
- More organic website traffic and better lead generation
Investing in your social proof guarantees that you’ll receive more “warm” leads: Prospects have come across your products and services multiple times, have read many reviews and are now ready to make a purchase decision. This drives a steady stream of highly qualified leads and helps your business grow.
- Improved customer retention rates and brand loyalty
Investing in your social proof inevitably leads to greater customer loyalty. A brand that earns social currency through its social media channels or by pro-actively seeking customer feedback, makes their customers and prospects feel like valued members of the community.
Wrapping it up
One more thing! If you’re busy handling daily business operations, managing your digital marketing efforts and monitoring your brand authority online can be incredibly hard, we understand that. That’s where Anchor Digital and our team of marketing wizards, creatives and tech experts steps into the picture. Our tailor-made solutions will supercharge your social proof and get you ahead of your competition. Get in touch with us if you’re looking for more details or an awesome crew to help you ride the wave. We’re looking forward to meeting you.