The power of social proof
Sunday Morning, 10am. You’re in Northbridge, meeting with friends for Yum Cha. You’re strolling around, debating which restaurant to choose from the dozens that are open. They all look pretty similar from the outside, and being a late hour for breakfast, stomachs are rumbling pretty assertively.
Do you choose the quiet, spacious restaurant that you can get into with no delay? No. You choose one with a long queue trailing out the door, and a 30 minute wait for a table.
Social Proof is at work
Social proof. No, it’s not the headache you have the morning after that cocktail function.
Social Proof is the concept that people will conform to the actions of others when unsure what to do, because they assume that other people’s actions reflect the correct behavior.
As well as the popularity of a restaurant, social proof can take the form of:
- Reviews – particularly on sites seen to be independent. Yelp, TripAdvisor, ProductReview and Rotten Tomatoes are well-known sources.
- Social Media endorsements on LinkedIn and comments or reviews on Facebook. Social sharing counters and Facebook ‘Like’ boxes on your blog are also evidence of popularity.
- Word of Mouth and referrals from trusted sources.
- Testimonials from existing clients. They can be in multiple formats including written and video.
- Case studies that clearly demonstrate the problem or need the customer started with; the product or service they used to solve the issue; and the results they had.
Why is social proof so important?
Thanks to the internet, consumers are now doing far more research before buying. This study found up to 81% of consumers researched online before making a big purchase. The greater the purchase risk and the level of uncertainty the customer has about what path to take – the more research they are likely to do.
How to use social proof in your marketing
Making the right kind of social proof available for different stages of the buying journey can demonstrate how your product or service is the best solution for their need or problem.
Digital Agency Publicis Hawkeye’s 2013 B2B Buyer Journey Research showed that testimonials and case studies were seen as the most important information source in the evaluation stage. As the evaluation stage is when buyers are weighing products, services and providers up against each other, this is crucial.
What type of social proof works the best?
The most powerful case studies and testimonials are those that feature an individual that the potential customer can relate to. These types of social proof have been shown to be even more powerful when used with a photo of the person or people being quoted.
How to power up your marketing with social proof
If you aren’t yet using social proof in your small business marketing, here is a short action plan for getting the ball rolling.
1. Be methodical about collecting testimonials or reviews
Get into the habit of requesting a testimonial from every client, as soon as you have delivered your product or service to them. If you have a service based business where you build a relationship with individuals, request this personally. If you are selling products online which are delivered, send a postcard thanking them for their purchase and encourage them to leave a review on your website – and give instructions on exactly how to do this. You may want to incentivise reviews in this case by entering all reviewers into a prize draw.
If your customers are on Facebook, you can simply ask them to add a ‘review’ to your business page. I find this can have a faster result than asking people to email you a testimonial, and also keeps the testimonial briefer and more focused. Copy the review and add to your website testimonials section, and save in Word or Evernote to add to brochure copy, proposals, newsletters and other documents.
2. Draft up Case studies
Write case studies that tell the story of how your service or product has helped clients. Focus on profiling those who most closely match your ‘ideal client’. Prospects are most influenced by social proof from people that they can relate to and who they see as being similar to them, so like will attract like.
In each case study, describe the problem or need the customer had, what you did to address their problem, and what the results have been for the customer – and incorporate quotes from their testimonial. A good guide if you sell B2B is here .
The Weight Watchers Success Stories section has many examples of effective B2C case studies. If you have ever look at Weight Watchers and similar sites, you’ll see that they feature a wide range of people of different genders/ages and weight loss needs, so that more of their prospects can find someone that they recognise as similar to themselves. Our own case studies are displayed under recent work.
3: Take photographic evidence
By hook or by crook – get some photos to show that these are actual, real people that you are talking about, and not just made up ‘personas’! High res, professional photography of your customers in their ‘real life’ settings would be the best resource to aim for. This way you get have quality assets to use across your marketing, telling the story you want to tell.
If you can’t swing to this, try to take high res images yourself with a decent camera – natural light is best if you don’t have a photographic set up. Or request that your clients email you a photo themselves. Your graphic designer can set up a template for you to use for layouts. Alternatively you can use Word, Powerpoint or Canva to lay them out yourself.
4: Sharing is Caring
Get your testimonials and case studies in front of eyeballs.
- Add testimonial quotes and case studies to your website
- Reformat the case studies into blog posts
- Publish the case studies on LinkedIn
- Share on your Facebook business page
- Create handouts of the Case Studies to take to client meetings.
- Include both testimonials and case studies in capability presentations and proposals.
- Promote new case studies in your next client newsletter.
Use the power of social proof and track the impact
Follow these steps and track the impact this has on your marketing. The social proof should be in the pudding!
Have you already been using social proof in your marketing? Has anyone mentioned they have come to you because of a review, testimonial or referral?
Need some help getting social proof into your marketing?
Contact Hook and Loop on 08 9228 8063 to find out how we can help, or drop us a line