31 Aug People Power and Social Proof
We’ve all been throwing this buzz term of social proof around for a while. But what does it mean and how can we use it to impact our marketing?
Social proof describes a psychological bias that makes us believe that what other people do and say is the correct way of doing or saying things.
Through the power of the internet, customers can get an enormous amount of information about your business before even speaking with you. Statistics show that over 97% of consumers say they look at product or service reviews before making a purchase and 85% of those consumers trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations. And nearly 73% of consumers indicate that they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings or service reviews as positive reviews make them trust a business more, and 49% of consumers need at least a 4-star rating before they choose to use that business.
That said, it’s clear that positive social proof is very influential, and should be placed prominently on your most important landing pages and website. Use it when customers are getting close to making a purchase. It also works better with graphics or video. By now we’ve all heard it to death: Pictures or video increase trust among participants, even when images are nonsensical. But your best course of action is to use high quality photos, and make sure that they look inviting and friendly. For maximum effect, blend the call to action with the social proof.
It’s also good to remember that people are influenced by similar people. So be sure to avoid generic ‘great service!’ quotes like the plague. Ask your customers to describe a very specific and very real pain that they solved with your product or service and try to find a customer that truly represents in the best way, what your ideal customer looks like. We feel connected when we can envision ourselves in a similar situation
Conversely, negative social proof is detrimental to persuasion. It’s to be avoided at all costs. I still see that it is prevalent for businesses to use negative social proof or ‘FOMO’ to increase the effectiveness of their call-to-action, which is destroying their conversion rates. So, if your landing page or sales page, or even your ads warns people of the dangers of ‘missing out’, you’re in trouble. How do you know if you’re using negative social proof? If you’re claiming an activity is ‘wrong’, but do so by saying that lots of people are doing it. Ie. “4 years ago, over 22 million single women did not vote.” Basically, anything that has a negative connotation, but validated by numbers or by something that you provide to mitigate it, that will turn up noses. Positive proof is the only way to go, and the reason is psychological. Our brains are wired to find the positive not only more appealing, but more trustworthy. Reference: The Mind & The Brain by Jeffrey M Schwartz, MD
So how can you make some changes in your business today? We’ll give you 2 simple things to implement in your business to start with. They are not as simple as they may seem, but they are important to incorporate into your business.
- Showcase your customer reviews – People love buying products and services that other people like. So let your visitors know who else is buying your services or products. Client reviews or testimonials give your visitors confidence that they are doing business with a company that is great. Get into the habit of asking your clients for a review immediately after you’ve delivered your service or product, while the good experience is fresh in their mind. Send them an email with a link to your review page or ask them for a testimonial on LinkedIn.
- User generated content – If people like buying what other people buy, then they love seeing other people using what they buy. That’s why user generated content is very powerful. Things like video testimonials are a valuable form of user-generated content, where your clients send you a video telling you how your service improved their business. Or it could be an image of them using a product, or service. All that changes, is how you ask. Instead of asking for a review, you’re asking for a photo of them thanking you for your service, or of them using the product. This is a tougher ask generally, so giving a little incentive to persuade them, like a gift card or perhaps even a reciprocal piece of content for their business might ‘loosen up’ the client
The final thing to keep in mind, is that it’s better to have no proof, than low proof. Certain forms of social proof, such as social media posts, can hinder the goal of the page if they make it seem unpopular. Low engagement could suggest that the content is less trustworthy, because we live in a world where social media buttons clog up our screens and people often look toward share counts as a sign of overall popularity (which isn’t always true.) Having said that, it’s smarter to eliminate it from important parts of your website if you find the counts are particularly low.
The bottom line is, that a lack of social proof can decrease conversions as people assume that the business either isn’t trustworthy, is too new to place faith in, or isn’t used by anyone because it sucks. So, if you’re lacking in social proof, go for the clean and uncluttered look, and people won’t hold it against you.
Sue Mills is a marketing, sales and digital specialist to the financial and professional service sector, and the owner of Sassy Marketing & Communications. With over 20 years of experience working for and with financial planners, accountants, brokers and advisors she shows her clients how to step up and out to be sustainable and thrive in their practices through adopting smart and valuable marketing strategies. Call Sue on 0477 468 888 for a confidential discussion or visit www.sassy.marketing.