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When it comes to effective marketing, most entrepreneurs are familiar with the value of social proof. It’s why companies clamor to send celebrities and influencers their products with the hopes that they’ll be seen carrying a specific luxury handbag — or post about their latest product on social media — causing a massive influx of sales, ideally without a huge marketing campaign to go along with it.
Social proof is all about demonstrating credibility, which makes it a powerful phenomenon that entrepreneurs can and should be using in their marketing efforts. Not sure how to make it happen? Here are six different types of social proof, as well as how you can use them effectively in your marketing.
Expert social proof is when an expert in your industry publicly supports your products or services — or is associated with your brand (e.g. through an affiliate program). You can demonstrate expert social proof in two main ways: using other people’s expert status to your advantage or establishing your reputation as an expert.
If you want to leverage someone else’s expertise, start by asking peers to write an endorsement of your product and/or services. This only needs to be a short quote that you can display on your website or sales pages, and it helps your potential clients to see you as an authority.
Podcast hosts are a great example of leveraging expert social proof without necessarily being recognized experts themselves. You might not recognize the host’s name, but if they have a well-known expert on their podcast, you’re more likely to pay attention to their content.
If you want to establish your reputation as an expert, this can be done via association with certain brands or media outlets. If your work has been featured in major publications, be sure to shout about it — and include a “featured in” banner on your website. Don’t be afraid to seek out these kinds of PR opportunities to establish your credibility as an expert — it can work wonders for your business.
Celebrity social proof is when a celebrity or influencer endorses your products. If you have a product-based business, this is easy to achieve through social media content and ads by contacting people to try out your product. Generally speaking, user-generated content (non-sponsored) is seen as the most valuable — with 85% of consumers reporting that UGC is more influential than brand-created content — meaning the more you can get people authentically posting about your products, the better.
If you have a service-based business, like a coaching business, then it’s more likely that the celebrity is someone else in your space. An example of this would be a celebrity-turned-spiritual coach who you coached on business. Again, ask for endorsements or testimonials you can use to promote your value on your website, sales pages and/or social media.
User social proof is when people who have used your product or service share their experience of what that was like. Every time you get positive feedback from a client, remember to screenshot it and ask for their permission to share.
Encourage customers to review your products or services, and take steps to incentivize sharing on social media as well. Again, UGC content is incredibly influential — we all scour reviews on Amazon when shopping for products — so don’t be afraid to ask both current and past clients for their feedback.
If you have a service-based business, take this a step further by asking for written and video testimonials that you can use in your marketing efforts. Ask your clients to share multiple experiences. They might have different things to say about their overall experience compared to thoughts on a specific product or service, which means you can leverage both. Videos tend to work best, but a written testimonial can go a long way — especially if they’re willing to let you share their name and photo.
4. The wisdom of the crowd
This refers to any time a large group of people is seen to be fans of your brand. Think of the number of people you have following your social media accounts, for example. The more you have, the more you get, so take steps to grow your audience on relevant platforms.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate your numbers and flex your stats either. If you can promote the fact that you have 50,000 followers, 10,000 women served worldwide or one of the top 10 business podcasts in the U.S., then you’re using the wisdom of the crowd to your advantage.
5. The wisdom of friends
People are also influenced by people they know, like and trust — which is why referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations are so powerful. Many people rely on things like Instagram giveaways to increase word-of-mouth by having entrants tag a friend (or several) in the comments, but there are plenty of other ways to make this happen that are more effective.
If you’re running a low-ticket workshop, for instance, you could offer a discount on any second ticket purchase. Have a product-based business? Offer customers a “give one, get one” discount where they get a 10% discount for sharing a discount with their friends.
Although many of the above suggestions rely on demonstrating your experience through other people, you can also demonstrate social proof through your education.
If you have qualifications or accreditations relevant to what you’re teaching or selling, make sure to mention them in your marketing as well. These are differentiators that can help set you apart from your competition. If you graduated from a specific business school or gained a highly-trusted certification, don’t be afraid to tout these things in your messaging.
When it comes to leveraging social proof, it’s all about taking steps to make winning over your audience easier so you can establish credibility and trust with less effort — and more impact.