Online Marketing 101: Using Social Proof to Gain Trust

The main aim of a marketing campaign is to get a user to buy (or buy into) your product or service, and that aim hasn’t really changed. But what has changed is how you can successfully do this in today’s competitive online market where users are generally more cautious and distrusting of brands… and that’s by using social proof.

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What is Social Proof?
Social proof is a piece of evidence which reinforces the message of your brand. For example, it could be a positive review, social followings or user submitted content about how wonderful and reliable your product is.

How does social proof work?
Social proof is used to instill trust between consumer and seller. A single piece of social proof can add weight to your marketing campaign and put you ahead of your competitors.
Social proof should be considered as an important element to your campaign just as much as copy-writing and general marketing techniques are.

And although the benefit of adding social proof to your campaign is huge, it is surprisingly easy to apply.

Ways of adding social proof to your campaign:

Social Followings: This is probably one of the most recognized modern day forms of social proof. Marketing your company on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is an easy and accessible way of obtaining loyal followers. The more followers, likes and shares you get the more potential buyers will believe you are a dependable trustworthy brand.

Social media posts should be done often and be current. The more you engage with your audience and the more interactive your posts are the more your product or company will be seen. More followers doesn’t necessarily mean more sales, but it will add credibility to your product.

User-submitted content: This form of social proof can be obtained in a variety of ways. It could be as straightforward as encouraging users to leave a guest post on your blog or comment to a forum you host. You could host a competition with users submitting images or videos using a given hashtag.

Other ways of adding this type of social proof could be as simple as adding a testimonial feature to your landing page and asking users to submit or featuring a small snippet of a review on your landing page with a star rating.

Reviews & Ratings: The most traditional way of adding social proof is by including customer reviews of your product. This could be applied in the form of a small snippet of descriptive text or by a star rating.

Up to 88% online users trust reviews from strangers’ as much as personal recommendations, reports marketingland.com.

You can have a section on your site where customers can leave a review or you can email purchasers directly asking them to review the product, or both; one of the biggest examples of social proof can be seen on Amazon, where consumer reviews and star ratings can be left directly on the website as well as buyers receiving an email asking them to rate a product they have purchased.

Testimonials: These are quite similar to reviews but are much longer in length and tend to be more about the company rather than the product. Testimonials are a great way of inadvertently adding conviction to a product; after all if a company is reliable and trustworthy so must be the products they are selling.

Testimonials can be harder to obtain and it may be a case of asking the consumer directly, but it will defiantly add value to your marketing campaign.

Affiliations: These are easier to obtain and represent a simple form of social proof. A company can easily show other companies, individuals or organizations that they are associated with by featuring logos or trust badges. For example, if your company is part of a well known and trusted organization or consumer protection group then displaying this on your site will add familiarity and when we are familiar with things we feel more comfortable and safe.

All of the examples that we have discussed are relatively easy ways of adding social proof to new and existing campaigns, even with minimal effort you will see how social proof can create maximum results.

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