How To Use Social Proof as Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Sen Boyaci
December 16, 2022
Last Updated On
a woman testing out a foundation shade on the back of her hand

Almost all of us have bought a product or service after it was highly recommended by a relative or friend. In fact, we're psychologically more apt to believe their reviews and consider purchasing the item ourselves if they give us a good testimonial. Today, however, we also rely on the reviews of individuals who we may not know personally but who we trust nonetheless—think credible creators, celebrities, or authentic online opinions. Despite their differences, they all share one thing: trust.

As a result, brands have the opportunity to leverage social proof marketing to put their products and services on the radar of a wider audience. Social proof is one of the most effective marketing tools for brands, especially as today's social landscape provides ripe opportunities for e-commerce to thrive. Brands that invest time and effort into integrating social proof into their marketing plans will soon see an increase in both engagement and conversion.

What Is Social Proof in Marketing?

The power of social proof marketing is an essential component of strategies that harness influence and compliance. It relies on the psychology of traditional social influence, which capitalizes on people's predisposition to conform to social norms. For example, you may take direction from others when unsure of what to do in a new social situation and will likely mimic their behavior to avoid standing out. This concept of social proof is often embedded into marketing blueprints by brands in recognition of its importance. That is why you'll likely get multiple prompts asking you to review a product after an online purchase.

According to reports, 93% of buyers rely on customer reviews when dealing with retailers they're unfamiliar with, while 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don't know. Since social proof is such an integral method, marketers need to get creative and find authentic ways to incorporate it into their strategies and ultimately gain consumer trust.

Different Types of Social Proof

Despite the evident and useful nature of reviews and testimonials, brands can take advantage of social proof marketing in many other ways. Generally speaking, social proof falls into four buckets:

  1. Celebrity and creator endorsements

In this case, a well-known public figure endorses your product or service on social media. Often, this endorsement has resulted in products selling out. Choose a celebrity or creator with a niche well aligned with yours, so their audience naturally gravitates toward your product. As a result, the endorsement will come across as more genuine and authentic rather than not aligned with the usual content the individual promotes.

  1. User reviews

The term user social proof refers to users' recommendations of your product based on their experiences with your brand. You can do this through social media or a simple online review site. Many users who love a product will naturally want to leave feedback, but ensure that your review strategy guarantees that you capture all of them. 

Tip: If you need a boost in testimonials, consider offering discounts to users to compel them to leave one.

  1. Friends & family reviews

Consumers rely on recommendations from friends and family as perhaps the most traditional form of social proof. In many cases, these are more trusted because these reviewers have no reason not to be fully transparent and know the individual well enough to understand whether your brand's product would suit them. 

Tip: Consider offering a referral incentive to encourage friends and family members to recommend your product.

  1. Approval by authority

In this case, social proof occurs when an authoritative figure in your field endorses your work. This may be helpful for consumers who are particularly selective or suspicious about your brand's credibility. 

Tip: Display your awards on your social media or website to serve as this type of social proof.

Which Type of Social Proof Is Best for Your Brand?

Make sure you first have a clear understanding of your overall social media marketing strategy and your target audience before choosing which of the above social proof concepts to incorporate into your approach. Analyze what other brands like yours are doing to determine where you can focus your efforts. However, you should not limit yourself to focusing only on competitors. Take a look at the whole industry.

Once you have a good grasp of these elements, start planning which social proof tactic to use. To help you get inspired, we have provided some examples below. 

Social Proof Marketing Examples

Social proof can be used in various ways to showcase your happy customers to prospects. When it comes to introducing your products and services to new audiences, social proof is an integral part of your marketing strategy. Although the thought of starting may seem daunting, there are several tools at your disposal that can make the process more seamless. You can get started by looking at the examples below.

Utilize Case Studies

A case study can be an excellent tool for B2B brands, especially if they partner with a happy customer to demonstrate their journey with the product. It is also possible for B2C brands to use case studies, which are often demonstrated through interviews or articles published across social media platforms, highlighting satisfied customers discussing their experience with your brand.

Dash Hudson Example

Dash Hudson regularly utilizes client case studies to highlight how specific aspects of its platform have helped clients solve their social media challenges. By demonstrating how delighted customers have overcome relatable challenges within their niche, prospects can get a head start on their research journey by understanding how it can also benefit them.

Share Testimonials

Consider ways to further celebrate and share a valuable review or testimonial that you receive from a customer. You could, for example, create a highlight on your Instagram profile for all the stories you share about customer reviews, or give them a dedicated section on your website.

Patagonia Example

In its "Stories We Wear" section, Patagonia highlights customer testimonials about their experiences with its products. To give more credibility, it even includes photos of customers wearing Patagonia merchandise, adding an element of sincerity.

Showcase Awards 

Make sure you highlight any awards or accolades your company has won on your channels and website. By doing so, you can demonstrate to potential customers that you have been recognized in your niche and further cement your brand as an industry leader. 

Tony's Chocolonely Example

The ethical chocolate brand does a great job of creating content around its awards by highlighting the importance of it to its overall mission and solidifying its position as a noteworthy brand.

Leverage UGC

UGC always lends a higher sense of reliability and trust to brands' products and can also bring in more customers. There are multiple ways you can incorporate UGC into your social strategy, and Dash Hudson's Insights will help you manage your UGC efficiently to maximize its impact.

Calvin Klein Example

Calvin Klein started its own UGC campaign to get customers to share their experiences with Calvin Klein using the fill-in-the-blank slogan- “I _____ in #MyCalvins.” People who used this hashtag would be featured on their website for the campaign, which was also a huge incentive for them to participate. 

Embrace Creator Marketing

As we've learned by now, strong creator partnerships can make a big difference in your social proof strategy. Ensure that the creator's values match your brand's and that their audience will resonate with your products. Dash Hudson can help you get the most out of your creator partnerships by removing manual or surface-level tracking and seamlessly measuring the ROI of your partnerships.

Chipotle Example

There have been a lot of collaborations between Chiptole and social media influencers, but one particular collaboration stands out. As part of the brand's celebration of pride month in 2021, Trixie Mattel, Kim Chi, and Gottmik teamed up with the brand. Their favorite Chipotle orders were featured on their app and website, and $1 from each purchase would go to an LGBTQ+ charity. 

Expert's Approval

An expert stamp of approval is particularly valuable for companies selling ingestible products or in the health and wellness industry. After all, before we make a decision about a product or service that will benefit our well-being, we are more prone to seek out specific expert reviews. Using this tactic, brands can invite experts to livestream on their social channels or simply partner with specific specialists in the field to review products.

Fitbit Example

Fitbit regularly allows health and tech experts to approve its products. As an example, the brand recently partnered with Dr. Amir Khan, a well recognised NHS doctor, to promote its product on World Diabetes Day.

Celebrity Endorsements

Using celebrities to promote products is highly effective, much like influencer marketing. We live in a time when many social media users aspire to live lives similar to the celebrities they admire, so partnering with them can be extremely effective if they have an audience relevant to your market.

Coach Example

Coach took on a new collaboration with Jennifer Lopez, for its iconic horse-and-carriage logo, with a twist. Jennifer also starred in various video ads for the campaign and leveraged the content on her own social media.

Currently Trending

Your brand's credibility and reliability can be enhanced by leveraging the 'wisdom of the crowd' as a social proof feature. Using functions such as ‘trending now,’ you can show your customers what others love, psychologically encouraging them to explore those options themselves.

Netflix Example

With Netflix's 'trending now' feature, audiences instantly see what other people are most interested in watching. As well as serving as a great source of inspiration, it also indicates that something is popular and therefore potentially worthwhile.

How to Measure Social Proof Success With Dash Hudson

Despite understanding what social proof is, how it benefits brands and browsing through a few examples of how to get started, measuring the result of these efforts is traditionally deemed a challenging task. But not anymore.

You can measure the impact of some of your social proof endeavors with Dash Hudson's all-encompassing suite of tools and get the insights you need to make more informed decisions. By utilizing our Relationships feature, you can evaluate the performance of your social-proof creator and celebrity partnerships. In addition, you can use our social commerce tools to determine whether certain social proof content drives consumers to checkout and ultimately calculate the return on investment of your cross-channel campaigns.

There are endless possibilities when it comes to measuring the impact of your social proof campaigns, but one thing is clear. Making more effective decisions based on the right insights is key to developing robust strategies.

Social Proof FAQs

Why is social proof so important?

As human beings, we are psychologically more inclined to trust the reviews and recommendations of others, particularly when it comes to new products. Since 93% of buyers rely on customer reviews when dealing with unfamiliar retailers, marketers must incorporate social proof into their strategies in order to gain consumer trust.

How do brands use social proof?

Most brands use social proof in the form of reviews, testimonials, and celebrity endorsements. Furthermore, creator partnerships, awards, and expert reviews can also benefit brands.

How do you measure social proof?

How you measure social proof depends on the tactic you adopt. For example, when working with creators to promote your product to their audiences, you can use Dash Hudson’s Relationship feature to analyze the success of their efforts and determine ROI.

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