Lemming instinct exists. Oh yeah! When people don’t know how to act, they follow the crowd. Nature gave them this protective mechanism. Together it is easier to win a saber-toothed tiger and to catch a mammoth. You can control your behavior. But the subconscious mental patterns will find the way out. Every single time when your senses are not able to find answers to external stimuli, they'll do it. Even Holden Caulfield, Randle Patrick McMurphy and Guy Montag wanted to follow the crowd when they had time to relax and to forget everything they knew about the society.
The lemming instinct works in marketing, too. It’s called a “social proof” in here. Different researches favor this. People more eagerly buy a product about which other customers make flattering remarks. Marketers use effectively a man’s desire to be like others. Can you remember the famous slogans “Gillette: The best a man can get” and “New generation chooses Pepsi”? Do you feel like knowing how to use properly a social proof in digital marketing? Read this step-by-step guide.
What’s a social proof?
The social proof is a psychological pattern enforcing people to choose models of conduct of the majority, when they can’t access a situation objectively. If you wish, this is one of varieties of the lemming instinct. How does in work in marketing?
According to Google, 70% of customers research testimonials of a product planning a bargain. Moreover, the retailer ComUSA determined that almost two-thirds of customers prefer buying products on sites with an integrated system of ratings and testimonials. It’s simplicity itself: people want to know what other people think about a product the former ones want to buy.
Concerning digital marketing there are the following types of social proofs:
- Customers’ testimonials. The audience eagerly pay attention to points of views of mere customers.
- Reviews. They help potential customers receive detailed info about features and characteristics of a product.
- Particular options on social networks: likes/dislikes, reposts, comments. Qualitative and quantitive characteristics of the options are important here.
- Respected experts’ opinions. These opinions can be expressed in form of testimonials and reviews.
- Influencer opinion. Holding an influencer opinion is more important for certain audience segments and product categories than watching tens of reviews and hundreds of testimonials.
- Trusted user interface of a website: numbers, icons, client logotypes, award images, etc.
- Informational proofs: case studies, white paper, research findings.
You can use several or all the above-mentioned types of social proofs for your website promotion. You can find concrete recommendations with examples below.
Pay attention to customers’ rating and comments.
This is the simplest and most evident means of applying social proofs. To apply this social proof follow recommendations such as below:
Let the audience share points of view of a product
Give a possibility to leave and read comments on a website. To take a look at the realization of such an idea, visit a website of a big eCommerce store like Aliexpress. To make visitors to actively read and leave comments, act as follows:
- Make visible a section with comments. For instance, display the latest comments of users on a product description page and put a link to the section at the top.
- Display total number of positive and negative feedback near products on a particular category page. This will let customers see the most popular goods.
- Give your customers a reason to leave comments. A small discount or even cash can make your audience more engaged. In a word, do all you can to get more user content.
- Let leave comments via Social Networks accounts. First off, it makes easier to write a comment on a product. Second, some users love boasting of bought products. That’s why share their opinions with pleasure.
Star ratings, pluses and minuses, likes and dislikes and other symbols can serve this purpose. One of the most remarkable examples is the YouTube’s “Thumbs up” and “Thumbs down”
To effectively use user ratings in marketing, follow the recommendations below:
- Place a markup with the help of which reviews are displayed in search results. Check out these plugins:
- Display ratings of product description pages and of category pages.
- Place social widgets on product description pages. A like/dislike ratio can be considered as users rating. Use necessarily widgets with visual buttons for social networks. For instance, Pinterest. The audience use it to show an intention to buy a product.
Use guerrilla marketing
Use this marketing technique only if you sell top notch products. The majority of rating votes will be positive in this case. To get positive comments and votes through such a technique, ask for users opinions of a product in some thematic community or in a forum. Act attentively not to blamed for hidden ads.
Avoid using obvious ads. Don’t offer a product busily. You use guerrilla marketing to find out real customers’ opinions of a top notch product.
Step 2: Present social proofs via reviews
Regard testimonials as advanced reviews professionals and power users make. Visitors regard this type of content as a source of true info about characteristics and quality of goods and services. On this occasion, testimonials should be complete and objective. Follow the ideas below.
Ask professionals to tell about a product
Apply to professional having prestige in the sphere. Among them are:
- Bloggers having thematic sites and their readership.
- Editors specializing in this field.
- Power users of a chosen product category.
To motivate specialists give them product samples or a free trial of a service. Create a presskit for bloggers and journalists. If you have enough money, hire some professionals for making a series of testimonials.
Create testimonials by yourself
As it was remarked above, two-thirds of customers look through reviews and testimonials before buying a product. Make it so that clients could read and watch this type of content of your website. How does it touch social proofs? After publishing a good testimonial on your website you’ll receive users’ comments and questions. They will help you affect ambivalent customers make a choice.
You can publish testimonials on outside sites as well. Depending on a website, publish them as a guest post or an ad. You’ll attract more users and will get some extra feedback which will be your social proof.
Refer to other’s reviews
If you sell customary goods use other’s reviews as social proofs. It’s simplicity itself. It’s enough to place a link to a famous geek praising a definite smartphone.
Keep in mind, such a tactic can lead to decrease in traffic and in deals. Thus, if you’re referring to a website where a product of a cheaper price can be found, you’re most likely to lose a client. That is why use links to others’ reviews carefully. Don’t carry a torch for someone’s business.
Step 3: Build a presence on social media
Network resources are one of the most powerful tools of generalization and spreading of social proofs. You already use the functions “Share” which contribute to your “likes”. Go ahead.
Use community potential
Develop groups and accounts of a company on social networks. Receive social proofs by the following means:
- Announcing the content which you publish on a website: articles, reviews, goods descriptions.
Your goal is to get as much feedback as possible in form of likes, sharings and comments.
- Organize and support thematic discussions. You may try creating a photo album for users’ photos and try offering followers to share images of products they use themselves. You will garanteedly have passionate talks with kick-ass fights (joke).
- Run competitions. Usually competitions are held to attract attention to a product and to a seller. Though popularity of a competition and user content can be used as social proofs.
- Hold opinion polls. They’re one of the most obvious ways to get social proofs on social resources.
- Take advantages of social media. If you succeed in launching some viral marketing campaign, in making a hashtag popular, in making users post photos with a product of yours, you can consider that you’ve got gigabytes of social proofs.
If you’re selling a famous, top notch or even and popular product, use trolling. Let’s imagine that you’re selling SEO-products. Try declaring in any SEO-forum that those things went the way of a Dodo bird long ago and that now digital marketing rules. You’ll get heaps of social proofs of vital capacity of the old school promotion. You’re to use a fake account for that trolling. To make this tactic work there has to be lots of loyal supporter of your product.
If you’re selling a top notch or a unique product it’ll be sufficient for you to show it to the leaders of opinions. If a product’s customary, you’ll have to make a powerful user be interested in it. One or another charge type can be used as a motivator: personal discounts, exclusive service conditions, mutual mentioning, etc.
Share mentions of your product and of your company
This can be realized on Internet groups, in corporate website or on personal accounts of recruits. To find particular mentions use the following tools:
- Hashtag search
- Product or company title search
- Checking the users’ accounts shared your post
What should you do if you’ve received a flattering testimonial or comment? You’re to tell the whole world about it.
Keep in touch with the followers
This recommendation is the first thing to follow for huge enterprises. Chatting on social networks you can prove you see definite customers and their needs in goods. You also remain to be a living creature and not an anonymous customer relations manager. How should you chat on sites? How you wish to:
- Answer your post comments on social media websites
- Publish interesting contents
- Tell about successfully realized projects
- Share photos taken at corporate parties
- Exchange views with colleagues
Briefly, do all you can to show you’re flesh and blood, too.
Attract more followers
Use number of site and group followers as social proofs. Place widgets of popular social media networks like Facebook on your site.
Avoid increasing the number of followers via bots, salesy invitations and spamming. You need true followers. On this occasion choose real means of attracting customers: publication of thrilling contents, competitions, professional discussions.
Step 4 & 5: Use celebs’ and experts’ authority
You’re already using professionals’ opinions as social proofs. With the help of the ideas below you’ll be able to convert famous people and experts’ opinions into social proofs.
Take part in comparative reviews and ratings
You must already have dealt with comparative reviews of software, car tire testing and trustworthy banks ratings. Usually authority figures, like experts and huge enterprises, hold such reviews and ratings. Your aim’s to take part in ratings of the best companies in the industry.
Choose those tests and ratings in which your company or product will take a rightful place. On that account you have to find out about competition terms and criteria of judging beforehand at any costs. To get social proofs you won’t necessarily have to place high. It’ll be enough to fail to mess up at the testing and to favorably set out the results to the audience. Let me give you an example. If your product takes place 9 out of 15 contestants then you should boldly write that your product is TOP 10, according to the results of a competition.
Use celebrities in advertising
Curiously enough, but this tactic works thanks to capacities of social proofs. Your grandmother buys washing powders of a particular producer because a celebrity in a TV commercial declared that this washing powder is excellent. Power customers of yours are going to buy obediently a product of yours if a celeb tells them to do it through a TV ad.
Follow the recommendations below:
- Pick celebs and commercial channels taking into account preferences of the audience. If your grandmother watches Andy Kaufman’s performances, the young tend to watch Jim Carrey’s ones on Youtube.
- Use different formats of celebrity involving in advertising. Depenting on your budget you may either pay for a post on a celebrity account or for shooting a group of famous celebs in the video.
- Use team-work with popular celebrities as an ad.
Become a thought leader in your field
People will tend to get your social proofs on this occasion. Your authority will respectively affect both your company and products. This tactic’s used by lots of Internet businessmen. Thus, Nil Patel is a welcome visitor at a conference of any industry and on pages of online newspapers. This affects respectively the popularity of his goods like KissMetrics, Hello Bar, Quicksprout and what else he’s invented
If you’ve successfully realized your product that means you’ve become an expert in a chosen field. To use your opinion as a social proof you need to become a thought leader. Use the following techniques:
- Keep a blog. It can be a live journal or a corporate website. Share boldly your learning skills with the audience. You become a thought leader in the eyes of users.
- Take part in this industry activities.
- Prove your opinions: publish case studies, tell about achievements and awards.
- Answer questions on Quora. This is a most respectable and popular question-answer service.
- Be media-opened: show the audience your interests and hobbies, discuss various topics. You’ve made up your mind to be publically opened – introversion is not an excuse.
Step 6: Use trusted elements on a website and on landing pages
Wider Funnel marketing agency expert Chris Howard states that publication of trusted elements on sites and landing pages increases conversion rate in 9 cases out of 10. These data have been received through multiple slip-tests.
What’s a trusted element? This is any content playing a role of a social proof and enhancing customers’ confidence in a website, a product or a company. What are the types of trusted elements? Here are a few ideas:
- Prize, award and rating position information
- Industry membership information
- Clients and experts testimonials
- "Most Popular" tags
- Clients and partners list
- Irrational graphic and text tags “GMO free”, “Quality 100%”, “all natural food”, “Editorial office choice”, “Almost sold out”, “No overpayment”, “Store #1”, etc.
- Staff details
- Access counter
- Representative bodies and trade outlets photos
- Company history
- Registration data, representative bodies addresses, licensing information
- Illustration of things symbolizing success, prosperity and quality. But you’d better not use stocks of banknotes and heaps of gold, this is vulgar.
- Sponsorship info, social projects and charitable acts support;
- Vacant positions info;
- Manager’s feedback form;
- Office live stream.
- Performance guarantee information
- HQ photos of your products
- Terms of products use and confidentiality provisions information. Few users read this content though it serves as social proofs security
- Financial reports and contract formation
You have no need to use all trusted elements on one page. Choose several options, combine them depending on current tasks
Step 7: Use information as a social proof
Researches prove that the more expensive a product is the more information a customer examines before buying it. Your task is to provide potential clients with reliable information necessary for taking a decision before a bargain. The audience will be grateful for the following informational social proofs:
- Case studies. This type of content presents real stories of usage of your product, problem-solution approach, success and failure to clients.
- White paper. White paper format is an excellent social proof having high virality potential.
- Realized research reports. You don’t necessarily need to spend money on opinion polls and experiments. Referring to search results of established companies will do.
- Market segment, product popularity, user preferences, number of clients information
Who keeps company with the wolf, will learn to howl
It doesn’t matter how sad this proverb may sound in the context of digital marketing. It describes accurately one of the factors affecting people’s behavior. Everyone wants to follow the crowd even if this want is unconscious. All that is left for you to do is to take advantage of it, to present potential and present clients social proofs.
Apply user testimonials and reviews, operate actively possibilities of social media websites. Bring in experts and famous people.
Use informational social proofs when dealing with the audience that is consciously looking for facts and explanations. Manipulate potential clients’ perception with trusted elements, quality tags and phrases like “TOP-sales.
If you feel like criticizing, adding or discussing the material, be free to do it in comments.