Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological theory positing that in uncertain situations, people look to others around them to decide what to do. Businesses can use this phenomenon in marketing strategies in numerous ways. Here are some ideas on how you can use social proof as a positive force to help grow your business.

The Principles of Social Proof

The principles of social proof in marketing are based on the uncertainty that people feel when confronted with product choices and the tendency to look to others around them for guidance in these situations. For instance, consumers may contemplate the opinions of experts when considering various product options. Alternatively, they may base their decisions on the opinions and behavior of the majority of people who have used the products or services in the past. People also manifest the propensity to make the same choices as other members of their peer groups or those who share the same gender, age, physical appearance, activities, or community. If social proof reinforcement comes from more than one influence, this is known as the multiple source effect.

Examples of Social Proof

Approval from people accredited as experts can have amazing clout in digital marketplaces. For example, if you deal in medical or health products, getting recommendations from doctors is bound to boost sales. Obtaining endorsements from celebrities can be even more effective. If you don’t have access to experts or celebrities, another option is to simply encourage your clients to post reviews on your website, your Facebook page, and on consumer blogs such as Yelp. Offer customers incentives as encouragement to share their comments. Request testimonials from your current clients on how your products or services have improved their personal lives or their businesses. Studies show that stories are far more persuasive than mere statistics.

Utilizing Social Proof

When utilizing social proof in your marketing, don’t wait for reviews and testimonials to trickle in by themselves. Be proactive in soliciting them. Don’t rely on one source alone, such as a review site, for your social proof marketing, but rather cultivate numerous reinforcing channels such as a company blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn account, YouTube videos and others to engage the multiple source effect. Use the case studies from your clients not only online, but also in person to accentuate the effectiveness and desirability of your products and services. Once you launch an effective social proof marketing strategy, it has a tendency to generate momentum and affect far more potential customers than you could have ever reached through other means.