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When it comes to effective marketing, most entrepreneurs are familiar with the value of social proof. That’s why companies are clamoring to send celebrities and influencers their products in the hopes they’ll be seen wearing a specific luxury handbag — or posting about their latest product on social media — triggering a huge influx of sales, ideally without a huge marketing campaign to go with it.
Social proof is all about demonstrating credibility, making it a powerful phenomenon that business owners can and should use in their marketing efforts. Not sure how to do this? Here are six different types of social proof, and how to use them effectively in your marketing.
Expert social proof is when an expert in your industry publicly endorses your products or services – or is associated with your brand (for example, through an affiliate program). You can demonstrate expert social proof in two ways: by using the expert status of others to your advantage or by establishing yourself your reputation as an expert.
If you want to leverage someone else’s expertise, start by asking colleagues 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 will help your potential customers see you as an authority.
Podcast hosts are a great example of leveraging expert social proof without necessarily being recognized experts themselves. You may not recognize the host’s name, but if they have a 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, you can do so through association with certain brands or media outlets. If your work has been featured in major publications, make sure to shout about it – and add 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, it is easy to reach through social media content and advertising by reaching out to people to try your product. In general, user-generated content (non-sponsored) is seen as the most valuable — with 85% of consumers report that UGC is more influential than branded content – meaning the more people you can get authentic posting about your products the better.
If you have a service business, such as a coaching company, the celebrity is more likely to be someone else in your space. An example of this would be a celebrity turned spiritual coach that you coached for business. Again, ask for recommendations or testimonials that you can use to promote your value on your website, sales pages, and/or social media.
Related: 5 tips for building a strong influencer program
User social proof is when people who have used your product or service share their experience of what that was like. Whenever you get positive feedback from a customer, don’t forget to take a screenshot of it and ask permission to share it.
Encourage customers to review your products or services and take steps to encourage 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 former customers for their feedback.
If you run a service-oriented business, take it a step further by asking for written and video testimonials to use in your marketing efforts. Ask your customers to share multiple experiences. They may have different things to say about their overall experience compared to thoughts about a specific product or service, meaning you can use both. Videos generally work best, but a written testimonial can go a long way, especially if they’re willing to share their name and photo.
Related: 4 Better Ways to Present Testimonials for Your Business
4. The wisdom of the crowd
This refers to any time a large group of people are seen as fans of your brand. For example, consider the number of people following your social media accounts. 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 grades and improve your stats too. If you can promote the fact that you have 50,000 followers, 10,000 women worldwide, or one of the top 10 business podcasts in the US, then you are 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. That’s why referrals and word of mouth are so powerful. Many people rely on things like Instagram giveaways to increase word of mouth by letting participants tag a friend (or several) in the comments, but there are plenty of other ways to make this happen that are more effective.
For example, if you teach a low-ticket workshop, you can give a discount on every second ticket purchase. Do you have a product-oriented company? Offer customers a “give one, get one” discount where they get a 10% discount for sharing a discount with their friends.
While many of the suggestions above rely on other people demonstrating your experience, you can also demonstrate social proof through your education.
If you have qualifications or accreditations relevant to what you teach or sell, make sure to include them in your marketing. These are differentiators that help you stand out from your competition. If you graduated from a specific business school or obtained a highly credible certification, don’t be afraid to promote these things in your posts.
When it comes to leveraging social proof, it’s all about taking steps to make winning over your audience easier, so you can build credibility and trust with less effort — and more impact.
Related: 4 Benefits of Getting a Certification in Your Field