Gaining trust and building a strong online reputation is one of the biggest challenges for businesses. Making customers believe that your business is worth investing and trusting is important for every business to grow. But it is easier said than done.
In the business world, seeing is often much more impactful than just blindly believing. And that is where social proof comes in to turn things around for your business.
If you know how to build social proof and market it, growth can be yours.
In this blog post, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of social proof examples to help you use this marketing phenomenon to your advantage.
Table of contents
What is social proof?
Social proof is a key form of marketing psychology that leverages positive mentions about a business to convince customers to invest in them.
Just as sharing a viral tweet everyone is sharing or following the same fashion trend everyone is wearing, seeing glorious reviews for a business makes people want to try them out. And sometimes, that’s all your business needs.
Social proof is more than just a peer-led movement. We trust and attempt to emulate industry experts, celebrities, influencers, and people we know. Robert Ciadini, the man who coined the term social proof, says: “The greater the number of people who find any idea correct, the more the idea will be correct.”
Why is social proof important?
Social proof draws in clients and customers by boosting your brand awareness and reputation. Thanks to social media channels and other digital marketing channels, word of mouth isn’t the only way to promote your business. Now, customer testimonials and recommendations flood TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter.
Social proof plays a significant role in every business’ marketing strategy by:
- Aiding word of mouth recommendations
- Encouraging customers to post public recommendations after seeing other customers do it
- Improving the value of your brand. The more customers like your product, the more it becomes in demand, and higher your brand value is.
- Boosting brand recognition. With so much user generated content and buzz online, anyone can easily spot your logo next time they see it. This makes you a trustworthy name in the market as well.
Customers also love social proof as it helps them feel confident in their decisions and like they are a part of something bigger.
Whether we like to admit it or not, fitting in feels good.
20+ Social proof examples
While social proof sounds like just collecting reviews or testimonials from customers, it is so much more than that. Anything you can do to improve your standing in the market and improve your reputation is a form of social proof.
Check out these top social proof examples that can help your business.
Customer reviews and ratings are some of the most influential social proof examples. Positive Amazon or Google reviews can mean the difference between a customer buying your product or passing it by.
Look at the example below. Two identical products but with vastly different social proof in terms of reviews. One has a 3.5-star rating and 415 customer reviews while one swing has a 4.5-star rating and 3,584 reviews.
Most consumers will gravitate towards the more popular and highly rated option despite being more expensive.
Pro Tip: When it comes to reviews, work on collecting honest feedback from customers, the more the merrier. A mix of 3-star reviews and 4-star reviews make it more believable for customers.
Testimonials and reviews are similar as customers share their experience with your company or product in this social proof example. The only difference is that customers send testimonials directly to the company rather than a third-party site and are almost always positive.
Customers understand that you will use a testimonial for promotional purposes.
You can showcase testimonials on your website, social media platforms, or other marketing channels. It helps build trust and confidence in your brand by showing that plenty of people have good things to say about your business.
Reviews and testimonials focus on the end results, the solutions you delivered for the business. But it’s human nature to be skeptical, and the only thing that works for many customers is cold, hard facts. That’s where social proof tactics like case studies come in. Case studies tell the whole story, use analysis and statistics, rather than social influence, to demonstrate that a product or service is worth using.
The story helps potential customers identify with your existing customers, coming to a conclusion on what worked for someone else, might work for them too.
Celebrity endorsements grab attention because of a familiar, trusted face. This form of social proof first appeared in the form of royal warrants, which allowed merchants providing goods and services to the royal household to advertise the fact. Now, we trust our favorite athletes and entertainers to tell us which restaurants to frequent and what perfume to wear.
You may not have the pull (yet) to get Edward Pattinson in your commercials, but you may be able to enlist the help of a local celebrity. You could also send a free product in the hopes an A-lister will love it enough to mention it on social media.
The key is to understand which celebrity would resonate best with your target audience.
User social proof is the modern-day version of word of mouth. If your customers can’t wait to jump on social media or their blogs to sing your praises, your product or service could go viral.
It is difficult to have a say in user-generated content because as the name suggests your customers create it and not you. But what you can do is encourage them to tag you on social media, refer their friends, and spread the word with incentives.
And when they do take to social media for your brand, make sure you give them the spotlight by sharing, engaging, and co-creating with them. Just as Starbucks does constantly on Twitter(X).
Influencer social proof
Influencer marketing is similar to working with a celebrity, but on social media customers actively look for recommendations from certain influencers. You can partner with them and expect them to give an honest review for your brand. By choosing the right influencer, you can elevate your brand immensely.
Betterhelp.com has mastered the art of influencer marketing. Many of their social media ads feature recognizable personalities like Us the Duo (328.8k followers on TikTok and 4.3 million followers on Facebook) and Shane Dawson (19.2 million YouTube subscribers and 3 million followers on TikTok). Your company or product could become a household name by partnering with a social media influencer.
If you offer a service, there is likely a certification you can obtain. Showing you are willing to go the extra mile for additional education or that your reputation is upstanding enough to be part of a respected network is an effective form of social proof.
You can also promote product certifications. A product with cruelty-free, allergen-free certificates, etc., can make all the difference to customers. When you get these certifications, make sure that all your customers know about it and can access information on those easily.
Proof of result (Before and After studies)
One reason Proactiv remains such a popular acne medication is the advertisements featuring proof of results as a social proof example. Showing that something or someone has changed for the better because of your service or product can help turn skeptics onto your company.
This works best for brands in the service industry including automotive, dental, healthcare, beauty salons, and fitness. Many home services do this and become a trusted-brand using this social proof example.
If your company or product has won any awards, show them off. Consumers want to know how your company stacks up against the competition. In most cases, you don’t have to sit around and wait for someone to notice you. See if there are any competitions you can enter to get more of this social proof on your website and other platforms.
Social media followers
Businesses can (and should) build a following on social media. Not only will your posts and videos garner more views, but you’ll also appeal to the consumer instinct to follow the crowd. If millions follow your account, people will wonder what they’re missing.
It is important for the business to choose the right social media platform to focus their efforts on and build a following. Understand your target audience and pick where the numbers would matter.
Social media shares
A high follower count means a high rate of social media shares. It’s the modern way for customers to tell their friends about a sale, product, or funny or informative photo. If you can create shareable content, your followers will do all the work of drawing attention to your company for you while also providing social proof.
In the example below, ADT didn’t say much about home security, but their content was shared ten thousand times.
Many people will pay more attention to a product or service because a famous person endorses it. Others need expert social proof, the endorsement of someone they recognize and respect as an expert in their field.
This doesn’t have to be a technical expert.
For example, someone looking for shapewear would be more likely to trust the opinion of a known fashion influencer, while someone looking for a child’s telescope would trust the opinion of science educator and former MIT engineer Emily Calandrelli.
Referral programs work wonders when establishing social proof. Most programs work so that the current and incoming customers benefit by receiving a discount, cash back, gift, etc. Referral programs help motivate customers who may otherwise not discuss your service or product.
The easier you make the program (if all they have to do is copy and paste email addresses, for example), the more effective it will be.
And you can build a custom referral program that grows your business in the easiest way possible with Birdeye.
Brag about your clients. If you have a recognizable name using your products or services, you don’t have to wait for them to make the first move. Send a courtesy email asking if you can use their logo on your website, and let the world know that KraftHeinz or duoLingo trusts you with their business.
Client logos can be as valuable as celebrity and expert endorsements.
Again, social proof doesn’t always have to come from outside sources. Draw up a press release if you do something unique, like win an award or release an innovative product. The more people see your name in the media, the more brand awareness and trust you’ll raise.
You can always share those press releases on your website too, so that new customers can see what the world is publishing about you.
Live stats can be a potent form of social proof. Show your customers that they are making an immediate difference (in the case of a charitable or nonprofit statistic). Or show customers that they are part of a thriving community.
They build a sense of community and make customers want to join in.
Affiliate programs are similar to referral programs, except affiliates don’t have to use the service or product, and they don’t reach out to friends and family directly. An affiliate will write a blog post, make a video on YouTube, or recommend your company in some other way.
Every time someone purchases your affiliate, they receive a commission. While influencers typically receive an advance sum for promoting a product, affiliate programs depend entirely on the affiliate to make a commission.
Community positive impact
Make your customers feel good about purchasing your product. For example, if you advertise that part of your profit goes towards a pet charity, you get social proof from customers and pet advocates.But this only works if you have an initiative in place, or it could turn against you and become negative fast.
Test scores can be similar to awards, but test scores have more precise criteria. Perhaps the best example of using a test score as social proof is the health inspection score posted throughout the food service industry.
Other tests, like company culture scores, will also act as social proof, helping customers decide whether or not your brand is trustworthy.
Sales volume/ number of customers
We’ve all seen slogans like, “Trusted by millions!” and “5 million copies sold!” Pampers famously promotes that they are the #1 diaper used by hospitals. Promoting sales and customer volume tells consumers: “This is the book everyone else is reading, the toothpaste everyone else is using, the institution everyone else is banking with, etc. Don’t get left behind!”
Community growth is a combination of social proof. Not everyone will follow the crowd to your company at first – but they may watch to see how it goes. The more you appear on their social media, their network talks about you, and your community grows, the more likely they will trust your brand reputation and follow suit.
Wisdom of crowd
The wisdom of the crowd is also a combination of social proof. The theory behind the crowd’s wisdom suggests that people put more stock in a consensus than individual opinion. If something has a 4.5-star Amazon review, you aren’t likely to let that missing .5 percent affect your purchase decision.
Customers will assume only the minority has an issue with that product and probably pay little attention to it. However, if that star rating decreases to three or two stars, they’ll likely find an alternative.
Which social proof works best?
Customer reviews and testimonials will always be the most effective forms of social proof. 94% of customers avoid businesses with negative online reviews, while 80% say they trust reviews with four stars or higher ratings.
Although depending on your industry, other forms of social proof can come in handy as well.
Social proof works both ways, making people love or hate a brand. Do everything you can to make sure reviews and testimonials work with instead of against your brand reputation.
FAQs about social proof examples
The five main categories of social proof are the wisdom of friends, the wisdom of the crowd, expert endorsement, celebrity endorsement, and testimonials.
A social proof statement is a promotional technique that appeals to an individual’s instinct to follow a group. For example, “9 out of 10 athletes recommend us.”
Social proof relies on others, but you can create social proof by promoting positive reviews, client logos, awards, and statistics and contacting influencers, affiliates, and experts.
Boost online reputation with Birdeye
While there are many ways to gain a strong foothold in the reputation world, it all starts with customer experience. Birdeye can help you find happy customers, survey them, get reviews for them, boost your social media reputation, and provide the best reporting there is.
Use Birdeye’s all-in-one platform to increase positive social proof for your small business. We design our products to attract reviews, referrals, and ratings for our customers, making maintaining an excellent online reputation easy.