Consumers are smarter than ever: They look at product reviews, friends’ recommendations, and reputation scores when making purchase decisions.
For companies, a positive impression makes all the difference between conversion, and a shopper going elsewhere. For individuals, they get sought for business advice for being seen in prominent social circles.
At the heart of the matter: People care what others think. It’s important for brands to publish positive testimonials from customers, industry experts, vloggers, and influencers.
Here’s why social proof is convincing.
1.Everyone can’t be wrong.
“Trend-setters have enormous power to shape public opinion, and marketers should do what it takes to get their stamp of approval,” says Steven Dorn, an entrepreneur, talent scout, and social media expert who has consulted for high net worth individuals, athletes, and celebrities.
“It’s a crowded marketplace and a lot of things get ignored. Influencers cut through the noise to endorse products or potential partners to whom we should pay attention to.”
When 10,000 users on Twitter or Facebook “like” a branded post, they all can’t be wrong: That’s what we say to ourselves.
According to a YouGov survey a while back, 78% of U.S. consumers read reviews before making a purchase decision. And according to a 2018 Online Reviews Report, 94% of respondents stayed away from a business after reading a bad review. Every 1-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in sales.
Social proof gives consumers confidence that they’re making the right decisions amidst a large number of choices.
2. It’s about who you know.
In the social age, relationships are extremely valuable: The right contact, whether business owner or celebrity, can just be one or two degrees of separation. And an introduction can open the perfect opportunity.
“Your network is more valuable than your net worth,” claims Steve Dorn, who publishes on Instagram posing with Hollywood entertainers and star athletes like Floyd Mayweather, Jr, Meek Mill, and Joel Embiid. For example, Dorn says knowing wealthy and famous people around the world, and publishing these relationships on media platforms, have helped him to collaborate with rising stars, and facilitate business deals.
By networking in the entertainment industry, Dorn discovered, helped, and funded artists such as Bryson Tiller, Yo Trane, and/or Pink Sweat$ early in their careers.
“To help launch their careers, we utilized social media and influencers to boost their fan base” says Dorn. “Main Street embraces success. Social proof is powerful because it shapes people’s perception.”
When it comes to business, social proof is also valuable. A brand can have a large social media following, or a big number of customers, or app downloads and be seen as a trend-setter in their sector. People gravitate towards what others already like.
3. It’s a shortcut to a favorable reputation.
In the age of social media, there’s value for one’s personal brand if you mingle in power circles. Photos are snapped and published, creating favorable impressions everywhere.
Dignitaries may not know who you are, but most viewers (whether consciously or subconsciously) will interpret the image as a sort of endorsement of one’s products or services.
It’s a faster way of building a reputation. But one must actually ensure to keep the bar high, such as delivering exceptional service or recommending outstanding individuals to keep a reputation intact.
4. It diffuses skepticism.
Nightclubs refuse entry when there’s plenty of room in the dance floor. Why? Because they want patrons to form a long line outside. This encourages (or tricks) passersby to join the line.
But these clubs are merely creating an optical illusion: The line outside gives the venue the perception of popularity, even though there’s empty space inside.
Do you fall for it?
Social proof extends beyond business matters. Many men want trophy girlfriends or wives to validate their success, not necessarily because they truly love their companion.
What began as schoolyard behaviorism carries over into adulthood. We feel good about ourselves by being popular, or by being around famous people.
Social proof is a marketer’s ability to leverage popularity to obtain social engagement and, ultimately, conversions.