How Digital Marketers Can Exploit Social Proof

21 November 2016

How Digital Marketers Can Exploit Social Proof

“Don’t just take my word for it...” has been a standard advertising catchphrase for many years. Successful companies are well aware that many people have an instinctive suspicion of sales people and their claims and want to see evidence to support them. That’s where social proof comes in. Don’t just take our word for it, see some examples of how digital marketers can exploit social proof in an ethical way.

1. Publicise your feedback (all of it)

It may have various names (reviews, testimonials, ratings…) but the basic idea is the same: customers are asked to give their opinion on their experience with you. Feedback is a numbers game and as the number of reviews increases, the more likely it becomes that there will be the odd average or negative review, but in the context of an overall picture of good reports, people are unlikely to worry about this. You can, however, turn these around by responding to the feedback and attempting to engage with the customer. Even if they don’t change their review, other people will see that you at least tried to resolve the situation.

2. Seek out endorsement opportunities

Endorsements are a modern take on personal recommendations from a friend, but their value is highly variable and depends on a number of factors. The most valuable endorsements of all are those that are given for free by trusted figures in any given community. It is crucial to ensure that the influencer or company that recommends you is a good fit for the product (such as when washing machine manufacturers recommend a particular laundry detergent). It is also important to be clear about what is expected from the influencer. Microsoft for example, were probably less than thrilled when Oprah Winfrey used her iPad to send an enthusiastic tweet about how much she loved their Surface device.

3. Provide independent evidence from authority figures

These could be statistics from credible organisations, certifications from recognized bodies, case studies or any other form of verifiable information from a reputable source. This evidence should be as current as is reasonably possible; in some cases, it may even be possible to provide it in real time. For example, many internet sites now display statistics on how often any item of content has been seen and also about the level of social media engagement. This form of social proof is particularly useful in situations where marketers have limited customer feedback on their product or service, perhaps because it is new or because it is a big-ticket item, which most people are only going to purchase on an occasional basis.