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How to Leverage Social Proof for More Leads and Sales

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  • January 5, 2017

How to Leverage Social Proof for More Leads and Sales

social proof

Fun fact! Reddit grew their website using FAKE users. They did that to populate the sites and make it seem as though it was popular.

The founders even submitted their stories as they wanted to set the tone for others to share interesting stories and content too.

Fast forward to today and Reddit has over 234 million users, over 850,000 subreddits and 8 billion page views. That is SOCIAL PROOF.

What is Social Proof?

In a nutshell, social proof is the concept of using people’s past decisions to influence the future decisions of others.

On the surface, social proof seems like a simple concept, but there’s more than meets the eye here.

Thanks to the power social media, social proof has gained steam over the past couple of years. I’m sure you’ve seen those influencers promoting fit tea, hair jelly, or coffee scrubs. These influencers were hired to boost the social proof of these products.

Robert Cialdini, author of the best-selling book Influencer, laid out six principles of persuasion. It’s no surprise to me that social proof is one of them.

Social proof:

  • Builds trust

  • Adds credibility

  • Validate buying decision

In this post we will discuss how you can apply social proof to get more leads or sales.

We’ll examine eight common ways to provide social proof. We’ll also look at some examples of each and why they work so well.

Let’s get to it!

1. Customer Testimonials/Reviews

Testimonials and reviews are probably the most commonly used forms of social proof. They are tried and tested techniques that has taken many shapes in the past. Testimonials and reviews are now even easier to leave, more transparent, and thus more powerful with social media taking over the world.

According to research by Nielsen, 92% of people trust a recommendation from a peer.

In fact, 70% of people trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.

That’s how powerful customer testimonials and reviews are. They’re everywhere! As a consumer, when I decide to purchase a product, I’ll always look at the reviews first.

Example of Execution

iHerb sells thousand of products! It’s so hard to decide what to purchase. To help increase sales, there are tons of reviews on each product. Once I purchased a toner just because it had over 6,000 mostly positive reviews.

iherb

Despite only having a small skew of products, they utilize testimonials to get more sales. They even email you directly to ask for your opinion about the product to increase the number of reviews.

vanity-market

Other ways you can apply this is to retweet or screen capture positive testimonials from customers and post them on social media.

2. Influencer Endorsements

Influencer endorsement is when a popular influencer endorses a product. Thanks to Instagram, influencer endorsement has skyrocketed. Using influencers as part of a Twitter marketing campaign is also very popular.

Today, more businesses are reaching out to influencers to get their product in front of their fans.

The key is knowing who your business’ demographic follows.

Example of Execution

DW is a great example of a company that took advantage of influencer endorsements to help promote their watches. In fact, they have over 200 million in sales because of influencer endorsements.

GetResponse promotes not only businesses who uses it but also showcases influencers who use its services. They have Neil Patel, a hugely influential marketer, giving his testimonial on their website.

get-response

3. Case Studies and Success Stories

Case studies and success stories are some other great ways to add social proof to your business and sell, sell, sell. The way it works is to showcase how customers are using your product and the successes they have achieved.

You can then promote these through social media and/or write a blog post highlighting their successes.

For an effective case study, be sure to include:

  • Before case study numbers

  • Goals

  • After case study numbers

For a great example, I recommend you take a look at Twitter success stories. Twitter features a number successful businesses who were able to get leads, and they break down what they did to get them.

twitter-success-story

4. Mass Media Mentions

Have you been mentioned by the media such as Huffington Post, Mashable or other popular media in your niche or industry? Use that to your advantage. Media mentions are a great example of strong social proof, especially if the source is one that is popular and reliable.

Even if someone doesn’t know much about you, when they see you’ve been mentioned by trusted medias in your industry, they are more likely to subscribe or buy your products.

Example of Execution:

I’m a huge fan of Adam. I’ve always been. Here’s an excellent example of him giving away a report. Notice the bottom? He added media mentions too.

adam-braun

Talented Stephanie’s blog is strengthened by all her social proof, with media mentions as well as the number of YouTube subscribers she has.

stephanie-carls

5. Feature Sales Volume 

Some websites feature the numbers of sales or purchases of a particular item.

Numbers sell! When deciding upon a WordPress theme for Leneys, one of my businesses, I made the decision to buy a theme based on the number of sales it had.

Examples of Execution

I’m sure you’ve seen this before. Groupon shares the amount of people who claimed one of their deals to encourage others to follow.

groupon

Theme Forest also mentions the amount of people who purchase their products.

themeforest

6. Fear of Missing Out

People have deep seeded fear of not having or missing out on things. There’s even a marketing acronym for this phenomenon – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). That’s the reason why companies mention low stock or ‘one left’. This is a form of social proof that the product is so popular, you might not get a chance to have it unless you act fast.

It works! I’ve purchased a product because I saw it was on a low inventory, giving me added incentive to buy and a sense of urgency to spur my decision to be made faster.

As a fun aside, if you find yourself afflicted with FOMO, check out Brian Fanzo’s new podcast FOMOFanz that helps “cure FOMO and ultimately help people enjoy a life full of the ‘Fun of Missing Out’ or better yet JOMO ‘Joy of Missing Out.'”

Example of Execution

Example 1: Earlier this year, a strategy my friend and colleague used on her e-commerce store, Leneys, was to showcase there was only a limited quantity of 100 jeans left that will be available for purchase. She posted the photo of that social proof on her Facebook page to tease it.

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-7-34-13-pm

She sold all 100 in a single day. People simply didn’t want to be left out or miss the opportunity.

Example 2: Agoda

Agoda uses this technique with their ‘best seller – limited supply’ tags on rooms.

agoda

7. Feature Number of Users

When a platform takes off, they will consistently promote the number of users they have. Just like the Reddit example, they want to look attractive and get other people to join/use their service.

Example of Execution:  Help Scout

Help Scout mentions the amount of businesses who use their product and the number of countries they have customers in. 

helpscout

8. Social Media Followers

I’m going to put myself out there and say you should focus on the importance of building both quantity and quality followers.

Hear me out. Whenever people decide to purchase from you, they WILL look at the amount of followers you have.

I’ve had friends who refuse to buy from businesses with small amount of followers because they are afraid of being scammed.

They won’t have that feeling when they purchase from a decent page with a decent following and active engagement.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this, you would rather eat in a partially full restaurant rather than eat in an empty restaurant. I know I do, and so do my friends and family.

That’s social proof. It work’s without you realizing. It happens on social media too.

Build a social media following – it absolutely pays off in more ways than one.

Homework

Now that you’re armed to the teeth with knowledge on social proof, it’s time to put these ideas into practice. Now that you are familiar with the types of social proof and how why how effective they are, it’s time to start using them to increase your leads and sales.

Try to do these tasks in the next week:

  • Add customer testimonials to your site

  • Post customers testimonials on your social media

  • Use testimonials as cover photos

  • Add media mentions to your social media and blog

  • Mention amount of subscribers you have

  • Mention amount of readers you have

Summing up:

You too can harness this power of social proof to increase the number of leads or sales drastically for your business.

You just have to take advantage of it.

What do you think? Have you used any of the techniques that I’ve shared? If not, will you start? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

social proof infographic

Author Aaron Lee

Aaron has been sharing social media tips on AskAaronLee.com since 2010 & has recently started ShortofHeight.com , a fashion blog for short men.

More posts by Aaron Lee
  • Molly Fieger Marshall

    Great article, as always! I had a college professor that loved Chialdini… and it’s been on my reading list for years. I need to get one of his books!

    • Thanks Molly, agree Aaron did a great job as always with this post.

      Smart professor sharing his readings with you. Have you not read Influence? It’s a must read. Email me your mailing address: michael@SocialQuant.net (put in the Subject: Influence by Cialdini)

      I’m just reading Pre-Suasion now, his newest release, but still love Influence the most 🙂

      Happy 2017!!!! Mike

  • Margo Wickersham

    Prime example? Endorsement and recommendation from Kim Garst was the final push that made me decide to get SocialQuant. As a result, my followers grew from 400 to over 7000 in a matter of 4 months! That would have happened whether Kim recommended SQ or not, but my trust of SQ went up enough to finalize my decision to try.

    • What a great example 😉 – thanks for sharing! Really glad you’re liking Social Quant as well! We love Kim and that is a great endorsement!

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