Social Proof: what it is and how to utilize it

Definition
Tuesday 25 June 2024 
Elsa Benaiche Elsa Benaiche
4 minutes
Social Proof: what it is and how to utilize it

Shoppers have an increasing desire to access concrete proof to enable them to trust a brand. 87% of shoppers1 won't even consider a business that has less than a 3-star average rating.

This means that marketing professionals are having to up their use of « social proof » to manifest the added value of a product and boost their sales. Publishing customer reviews can increase sales by 67%2.

Read the definition of social proof and the different ways you can use it to generate sales.

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What is social proof?

Social proof is the psychological phenomenon according to which shoppers rely on the actions and opinions of others to make their decisions. 66% of shoppers3 see customer reviews as « the principal element » that triggers a purchase.

The notion of social proof is based on 3 precise criteria4:

  • Compliance: shoppers have a tendency to conform and to follow the majority to be accepted.
  • Belonging: shoppers are more likely to act in line with their values.
  • Belief: shoppers take the opinions of others into consideration when making a decision.

The different formats of social proof

Customer reviews

Customer reviews are a form of social proof that has a huge influence on shoppers who are more likely to buy from a website with numerous reviews. 63% of shoppers5 buy exclusively from these websites… and some shoppers will read up to 10 different reviews6.

Customer reviews - form of social proof

To use customer reviews as social proof, a business should highlight the success of its products on comparison sites4 such as Capterra, G2 crowd, appvizer. You can also collect reviews online and publish them on the home page of your company's website.

However, it is not a good idea to publish reviews with perfect ratings such as 5/5. They are seen as « too good to be true7 » and have less impact on shoppers.

Influencer recommendations

In an influencer marketing strategy, influencer recommendations are a fundamental social proof.

Influencer - social proof

Shoppers are more motivated to buy after having seen an influencer recommendation with 89% of shoppers7 making a purchase based on this type of recommendation. There are several ways of explaining this influence including the feeling of being close to the influencer, the authenticity of the testimony, the views of an expert on a topic...

To use these recommendations as social proof, it is important to choose influencers that are experts8 in their domain: niche or prominent influencers, members of important businesses… and to showcase8 the content that they generate by reposting their publications on your social network platforms.

Certifications

Certifications represent « an external validation4 » and an effective way of establishing trust among consumers.

Certifications are proof of recognition by a trusted third party and boost the brand's credibility. They are a display of confidence and a means of showing that the business adheres to high standards.

To present certifications as social proof, a business can integrate certification logos on their home page and include them in media publications (magazines, TV shows, podcasts…): 60% of shoppers9 consider these logos to be trustworthy.

Customer case studies

Case studies are another, widely appreciated form of social proof generating even more trust among shoppers10 than customer reviews.

To use case studies as a form of social proof, you should try out different formats such as videos, downloadable white papers, articles… and showcase concrete figures showing all the benefits the product11 can bring to the company: +200% traffic on the website, ROI doubled, 50% less time wasted on tasks with little added value …

This information is essential to show how customers have improved their performance by using a product or service and to encourage shoppers to buy from you to get the same results12.

Key metrics

Metrics are a widely used form of social proof in marketing. Highlighting a large number of users, followers, or reviews is perceived by shoppers as proof of a product that works.

To use these metrics as social proof, a business could spotlight the size of its following on social networks: number of « likes » on a preferred publication, number of Facebook followers, number of people viewing an Instagram live publication… You can also use other metrics such as « the number of visitors currently looking at a page6 ». This real-time data creates a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) among shoppers and boosts sales.

User Generated Content

User Generated Content (UGC) is essential for strengthening social proof.

It shows that other shoppers have bought the product and are satisfied with it. 93% of shoppers13 find this type of content useful for their purchasing decisions. UGC also allows you to humanize a brand and make it more attractive to shoppers. 79% of shoppers13 see UGC as more impactful than content created by influencers.

To get the most out of UGC, a business should encourage the creation of content around their brand. This could involve setting up a specific hashtag, launching a marketing operation or a competition… You also need to get authorizations from users to collect their high-value UGC and use it in your product pages.

Social proof includes many different elements: customer testimonials, reviews, UGC… making shoppers eager to buy your products. To manage these elements, you will need to use a PIM solution. PIM centralizes all product information in a single, central repository. Through this interface, the different teams can use reliable and up-to-date information to design high-quality product pages and enrich them with social proof such as reviews, UGC, or notes… Integrating these social proofs in your product pages will increase your sales, as pages containing reviews get 3.5 more conversions14 than those that don't.

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1 Howarth, J. (2023, November 14). 50+ Social Proof Statistics & Trends (2024). Exploding Topics
2 Vaghasiya, K. 40+ Social Proof Statistics (Latest 2024 DATA). Best Social Proof & FOMO App For Your Website. WiserNotify.
3 Sabiani, G. (2024, January 16). Preuve sociale : 10 tactiques incontournables pour améliorer votre marketing digital. Swello.
4 Gupta, S. (2023, May 16). What Is Social Proof ? How to Harness Its Power for Marketing Success. Gartner.
5 O'Brien, M. How to Get More Reviews and Improve Product Ratings. The BigCommerce.
6 Ben Helal, B. (2018, July 2). 6 exemples de preuve sociale pour booster vos conversions. journaldunet.com.
7 Sost, R. (2021, March 4). Le guide copywriting des preuves sociales pour vos pages web. Livementor.
8 Payplug. (2020, July 30). 3 ressources pour alimenter votre preuve sociale. payplug.com.
9 Capgemini. How sustainability is fundamentally changing consumer preferences.
10 Dahmani, S. (2023, November 9). Qu'est-ce que la preuve sociale et comment l'utiliser ? Hubspot.
11 Groues, H. 13 exemples de preuves sociales pour convertir vos visiteurs. Plezi.
12 Desprez, C. (2024, April 4). La preuve sociale comme outil marketing : comment l'utiliser efficacement. Shopify.
13 Kunsman, T. (2024, June 11). 36 User-Generated Content Statistics that you can't ignore. EveryoneSocial.
14 Claudiachang. (2021, September 23). Product reviews : how to create the best review section for your product page. Contentsquare.

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