Last Sunday, a friend was wondering which restaurant to try out in Rome and ended up at a hole-in-a-wall place called Bonci. Why? Because Anthony Bourdain called the owner “the Michelangelo of dough” on a website. The pizza was amazing and is highly recommended.
Closer to home, I was advising a company to start using a marketing automation tool called Clevertap. The company’s CEO tapped on the website, saw that 8000+ apps use Clevertap and wanted to check it out.
This is Social Proof in action. It is a powerful marketing technique that can build trust, improve your reputation and boost sales.
Social Proof: We adapt our behaviour according to what other people are doing. We also rely on the opinions and actions of others to form our own
Here are 13 types of social proof that startups can use to grow their business. Have tried to give a B2B and a B2C example for each social proof method.
1. User Testimonials
This is the most commonly used method by companies online and is the best vote of confidence. It creates a healthy positive feedback for interested users. Use quotes from customers and if possible, add a picture. Most importantly use testimonials where customers are highly satisfied with your product. Focus on a different selling point in each testimonial. Even better if the testimonials can be incorporated in video format as they help convey emotions easily.
B2C: Floh (Dating Website)
B2B: Appsflyer (Mobile Attribution & Marketing Analytics Platform)
2. Likes, Ratings, Comments, Reviews
Have grouped a bunch of ideas under this heading since they perform a similar task – giving the users a well rounded idea of the product with a mix of positives and negatives. Additionally reviews can be found not only on the product website but also on other sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp and Facebook. Reviews are so powerful that users at times prefer to buy products from marketplaces that have a few positive reviews rather than a product with no review. Proof that another user has experienced the product is as powerful as a brand copy.
B2B: Trustradius (Software reviews and Comparisons)
3. Influencer Endorsements
Find an influencer who caters to your niche audience and get her to endorse your product. Due to their positive reputation, users tend to associate their reputation with your brand. Give your product for free to these influencers or sponsor the smaller influencers to post on their channels. There are numerous examples of B2C influencer campaigns. Cisco built a community of advocates by giving IT professionals a chance to showcase their knowledge of Cisco products.
B2B: Cisco (#CiscoChat)
4. Celebrity Endorsements
We are staying away from paid celebrity endorsements here. Celebrity endorsement attaches the fame of a celebrity to a brand or product. This form of social proof is especially meaningful if the endorsement is unpaid. Any product that celebs are seen using is bound to get attention.
B2C: Isharya (Accessories)
5. Case Studies
Case studies from other clients give your prospective users ideas on how to use your product. Use case studies to give an in-depth view on how your service solved a client’s problem and if possible include a quote from the client as well. These can also be used to enhance your authority in a given industry.
6. Media Mentions
Leverage the trust that large media houses have built. Use their logos if any publication has given your brand positive coverage. Link any talk shows, interviews or news that your company has been a part of. Create a carousel of all the media logos on your homepage and give your website visitors the much-needed approval from authority figures and publications in the industry.
B2C: LeverageEdu (Education)
2B: Khatabook (Business Ledger App)
7. “In Group”
Create an Invitation Only or Waiting List group that creates exclusivity. Think waiting lines to get into a popular restaurant. Create a sense of urgency and FOMO. This will get users to pre-register and spread the word to get access. For this to be successful, the offering needs to be stellar to pique the user’s curiosity. B2B companies can use this feature to get their users to convert to power users.
B2C: Superhuman (email client)
8. Integrations with other Platforms
Mentioning other brands that your service integrates with will help enhance social proof. It not only helps in improving credibility but also gives the user an idea of the various possibilities in which the service can be used. This ultimately puts your product in the company of credible and familiar brands. This is one of the easiest ways to borrow social credibility if your product integrates with third party services.
9. Real Time Statistics & User Activity
Presenting real time data of the activity that is core to your business creates a sense of urgency. By presenting other users’ activity as a feed, the visitor gets an idea of various use cases and products. Even giving the visitor a real time data on likes, shares and purchases drives him to act. Hotstar shows a real time feed of likes and comments during a live match. It also shows the number of concurrent users watching the match on the platform. This provides the user social proof that many more users like him are interacting and enjoying the game on Hotstar.
B2C: Bitfinex (Crypto Trading)
10. Awards, Badges, Certifications
Industry awards, security certificates and association badges lend legitimacy to the organisation. Display them prominently on the website to lend credibility to your site. This also helps dispel any doubts that the user may have while transacting. Wallet companies show security certificates, restaurants place Zomato rating tent cards, hotels display Tripadvisor certificates, software services companies make it a point to showcase their CMMI level to leverage social proof.
B2C: Paytm (Payments – displays its security certificates on the footer)
B2B: Affle (Mobile Marketing)
11. Milestones & Stats
Telling people how many customers you served till now is the simplest form of social proof. Stating huge figures gives the visitors a feeling that they can join others who have benefited from the product. Use milestones to showcase growth and robustness to users. Create celebratory emailers and banners for milestones.
B2C: ZestMoney (Consumer Lending)
B2B: Valuefirst (Digital Solutions)
12. Expert Endorsement
Each industry has a group of people who are considered industry leaders or influential in some way. Featuring an endorsement from these experts and industry celebrities boosts your credibility. The easiest way to get endorsement from an expert is if she is your client. Companies can also quote expert advise of recognised organisations like CDC, FSSAI, etc
B2B: Segment (Customer Data Platform)
13. Wisdom of Crowds
“People who bought this also bought that”, “These are our best sellers”, “Trending” are all ways in which wisdom of crowds can be used to build social proof. This creates a sense of urgency while providing reassurance that users are following the consensus. Leverage this bandwagon effect to build features for your platform and increase the marketing ROI.
B2C: Flipkart (Ecommerce)
While these are just 13 ways to leverage social proof, there are many more that can be added to the list – ranging from creating FOMO to Engaging Brand Advocates. There is ample literature on the web to delve deeper on each of these 13 points. You can read more about them here, here and here.