The advent of digital marketing has created many concepts or tools through which marketers hope to promote their brands more effectively for potential clients or prospects for more conversions and increased sales. One such concept is social proof, a term that emerged in the 20th century.
Social proof be a powerful complement to your lead magnets. But it can also act as a lead magnet on its own.
In this post, you’ll learn about social proof, why it’s necessary, and types of social proof. We’ll even provide stunning examples of social proof in action.
What is Social Proof?
The term “social proof” (also known as informational social influence) was introduced by Robert Cialdini, an American psychologist and emeritus professor, in 1984. Cialdini’s social proof theory is a social and psychological concept that describes how people are likely to behave in situations when they are unsure of what decision to take. He opines that in such uncertain situations, most people depend on other people’s decisions to decide on what to do.
According to Cialdini, this human attribute partly explains why a laugh track is often integrated into several television shows. The logic is that playing a laugh track during the funny moments of a show (such as a joke or gag) will increase the likelihood of the audience also finding such moments funny. This audience effect will not be the case if no laugh track is included in the show.
Many studies have verified Cialdini’s claim. Even though laugh tracks have drawn lots of complaints amongst viewers who find them more annoying than motivational, they work.
One notable takeaway from Cialdini’s theory is that social proof is most relevant during periods when an individual cannot make up his or her mind. Such as deciding whether to purchase a product or service. In such times, human instinct tilts towards taking a cue from others to arrive at a decision.
In other words, when prospects see the value past clients attribute to a product or service they’ve used, such prospects are very likely to trust the offering enough to purchase it.
From a business perspective, social proof is a tool that product and service providers utilize. It convinces potential customers about the value or problem-solving capability of their offerings. For instance, having a celebrity or influencer endorse your product can bring about a dramatic increase in conversions and sales.
Why is Social Proof Effective?
As noted earlier, Cialdini’s work on social proof has been backed by many studies. In 2008, Cialdini went into another research on the concept, this time alongside his protégé and social psychologist Noah Goldstein. Their experiment (and other similar efforts) further deepened the acceptance of social proof. This led policymakers to engage in serious dialogue about the ethics and efficacy of guiding human behavior through the use of cognitive biases and other psychological influences.
Social proof is effective because it validates people’s social and psychological characteristics.People tend to value the views and decisions of others whom they consider similar to them. The larger the number of people who favor a particular product, the stronger the social proof of that product becomes.
Furthermore, it can be suggested that social proof reflects people’s inclination to conform to what seems to be the popular trend. They want their decisions to be approved by peers to win more acceptance. This trait is also exhibited when people make purchase decisions.
Here are some stats that show the significant effects of social proof:
- According to a study by Nielsen, 70% of consumers trust a recommendation from someone they don’t know
- The same Nielsen study indicates that 92% of customers trust peer advice
- 91% of shoppers read at least one review prior to buying
- According to HubSpot, 57% of customers purchase a product or service that has a 4-star rating
- 80% of shoppers in the US ask for recommendations when making a purchase
Types of Social Proof
Alfred Lua has proposed the following six types of social proof:
1. Expert Social Proof
Expert social proof occurs when an industry expert recommends your products or services or publicly associates himself with your brand. A good example is an expert promoting your offerings via a Twitter or Tik Tok shoutout.
2. Celebrity Social Proof
This type of social proof involves endorsing a product or service by a celebrity or influencer. For instance, when a celebrity or influencer shares a post about your product or service on WhatsApp.
3. User Social Proof
User social proof occurs whenever your products and services are recommended to people by those who have used them previously or are currently using them. This recommendation is usually based on the good experience those users have had with the brand. An example is when a user provides a five-star rating for a product or service on review sites.
4. Wisdom of the Crowd Social Proof
This kind of social proof is premised on the notion that people are more likely to patronize a brand with a large crowd of people behind it than otherwise. For example, a business with a social media page with 250 thousand followers will be considered more established than one with a thousand followers.
5. Wisdom of Your Friends Social Proof
Wisdom of your friends’ social proof occurs when people observe their friends approve of a product or service. Some examples include when somebody sees his friend using your product or service. Or following your brand on social media as well as providing user-generated content about a brand.
6. Certification Social Proof
In certification social proof, a brand is provided a stamp of approval by an industry authority. For example, a verified BBB or Instagram badge.
Stunning Examples of Social Proof
Several companies worldwide have developed various social proofs to enhance conversion opportunities on their websites. And it is a good use of time. Stats such as those presented above and many others indicate that social proofs are effective. Here are a few examples:
User Social Proof – FastComet
With over two thousand reviews, FastComet has an “excellent” rating by TrustPilot, with over 90% of these ratings being 5-star. This trusted standing is capable of attracting more clients to the company.
Certification Social Proof – Kettle and Fire
The above landing page from Kettle and Fire clearly shows that its product is certified gluten-free. This helps dispel the concerns of those that may be concerned about gluten and thus increases their likelihood of purchasing the product.
Wisdom of the Crowd Social Proof – Apple and Microsoft
A close look at the two tech giants captured above shows that even though both companies have millions of followers on Twitter, Apple’s followers are a lot more than Microsoft’s.
Expert Social Proof – The Herschel Supply Company Using HootSuite
This video testimonial by Herschel is a good example of expert social proof. Small brands and other followers of Herschel that are not finding it easy to drive growth through social media are bound to be motivated to use Hootsuite by watching this video.
Wisdom of Your Friends – Facebook
Facebook is one of the social media organizations that uses your friends, family, and peers to offer you a variety of ideas based on their activities on the popular platform.
Celebrity Social Proof – Capital One
Instead of over-elaborating on all the pros of acquiring a credit card through Capital One, the company utilizes the charisma and wit of popular celebrity Samuel L. Jackson to endorse its product, thereby sending a powerful message to its prospects.
How to Use Social Proof On Your WordPress Site
Social proof can be used in various ways on a WordPress site. Below are ways of integrating social proof into your WordPress website.
User forums are somewhat similar to social media, but the information provided is kept on your website rather than continuously shared or modified as is typical of social media settings. They are ideal for WordPress site owners intending to create a thriving community where members can publicly discuss the products and services offered by the forum creator’s brand.
For the brand, a forum is a great place to gauge the feelings of customers in addition to answering any questions or inquiries they may have. Such engagement ensures your customers are always carried along while providing significant social proof for your brand. Several plugins can be used to create a forum on your WordPress site.
Customer or Client Testimonials
Customer or client testimonials are powerful lead magnets and one of the best ways to utilize social proof on your WordPress site. They allow prospects to read or hear directly from clients that have used your product and/or services in the past. Such direct feedback from the horse’s mouth helps to build trust in potential clients and hence can motivate them towards making a purchase.
If your business is young and needs more testimonials, one way around this is to ask those you’ve already worked with to provide you with some. It may surprise you to see that most brands or people you approach will not hesitate to oblige you with quality testimonials, especially if you’ve established a good customer relationship with them.
As soon as you’ve got a reasonable number of your desired testimonials, you can then create a dedicated testimonials page (if you don’t have one already) for them. Check out the Testimonial Block from Kadence WP. With this block, you can add testimonials as a carousel or grid with four built-in preset styles to choose from. The testimonial block is easy to use and easy to customize.
Like user forums, there are also WordPress testimonial plugins you can leverage to build social proof on your site.
Several quality testimonial plugins are available in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Here are some things to consider before settling on a plugin:
- Good design
- Simplicity and extra options for expert use
Be sure to back up your site before installing any plugins with a powerful backup plugin like BackupBuddy!
Get the bonus content: 10 Things People Get Wrong About WordPress Site Backups
You can also create testimonials in video format (as shown in one example above). Video testimonials are very advantageous. They may capture the mood and faces of satisfied clients happily recommending the product or service they’ve used to others. This adds a powerful natural flavor to the testimonial since prospects will visually see emotional outpourings of clients based on the impacts of a product or service on their lives.
Video testimonials can be enabled on your website in the following ways:
- WordPress testimonial plugins
- Embedding video testimonials hosted outside (such as from YouTube)
- WP themes
When you finally have everything set up, you can utilize the many available settings options to enrich your testimonial visually. For instance, you can add an effect and select how the added effects will appear, among others.
Though case studies are similar to testimonials when it comes to highlighting a client’s experience with your product or service, they are a bit different because they provide more in-depth details to capture the client’s journey with the company. This may include how the client learned about the company, his first contact with the company, the problems that made him seek the company, and how the company eventually offered an effective solution for this problem.
You do not need many case studies as social proof. One or two case studies that provide sufficient insight into the experiences of older clients can make the desired impact. Moreover, the storytelling style of case studies often enables prospects to more readily insert themselves into the story so as to envision outcomes that relate to their own lives or situations.
WordPress site owners often struggle to grow their businesses. This can change with the use of social proof, a powerful digital marketing tool that you can integrate into your WordPress site to convert new prospects, deepen brand loyalty, and eventually establish your company as an industry authority.
Luckily, integrating social proof into your WordPress site is easy and can be achieved in various ways, such as those mentioned above.
Kathy is a Product Marketing Manager for Kadence at StellarWP and has been working with WordPress for over a decade. She has both technical and marketing experience and has worked with a number of brands in the WordPress space. She has helped numerous organizations empower their businesses with WordPress. She’s helped organize both WordCamp Phoenix and WCUS. She currently lives outside of Denton, TX where she can often be found walking golden retrievers or hanging out in horse barns.