Seeing is Believing: Using Social Proof to Influence Customer Behavior

Imagine walking by a shopping street. You see one store teeming with customers and another that’s nearly empty. Which store would you pick? Or say you find two seemingly identical products on an ecommerce site. But one has hundreds of reviews whereas the other has too few. Which product would you choose? If you chose the busy store and the product with more reviews, then your decisions exemplify the power of social proof. 

Why, social proof is even that little nudge that makes you buy something that everyone seems to be talking about. In short, social proof is that one little factor that can influence which store you choose to what brand you trust. It’s a powerful force shaping consumer behavior. Hence, this is one of the most important psychological aspects for marketers to pay attention to.

Are you wondering how to garner social proof and how to seamlessly integrate them into your marketing strategies? You are in the right place. This blog is all about the nuances of leveraging social proof to influence potential customers and turn them into loyal fans. 

Ready to unlock the potential of this silent persuader? Let’s get started. 

Understanding Social Proof & Its Types 

In simple words, social proof is the psychological phenomenon of people being influenced by the actions and opinions of those around them. It is the tendency to trust a brand, product, or trend that most others seem to trust. Is there a celebrity influencer you trust so much that you’re first to buy any product they recommend? Or perhaps a peer group you look up to for purchase recommendations when you are stuck? These are all examples of social proof at work. 

But before we dive deeper into this, you should know that social proof is not just about customer reviews. There are various types of social proof that you use for your brand. Let’s quickly talk about a few of them: 

1. User reviews

What better than the unfiltered voices of customers to persuade those skeptical buyers? Evidently, user reviews are some of the most important types of social proof a brand can use. Real-world experiences tell people a lot more about your brand and product than promotional ads. 

For instance, the below image shows a user review shared by a renowned American meal-kit company, Blue Apron. The review from an actual user here puts a fresh spin on the views about the brand. Instead of a structured and artificial presentation of information about the brand, the review focuses on the raw little details that any customer will be able to relate to. These are the kinds of crude details that are often not available on the website but prove to be beneficial to potential customers. 

In addition to actual user reviews, a glimpse into your clientele can be effective as well. Especially if you have some high-profile clients to feature. The following section on the homepage of the popular work management tool Asana is a good example. The fact that big brands like Amazon and Dell trust the platform speaks volumes about it. 

2. Views of experts in the industry 

When an expert, a skilled professional, a credible voice in your industry recommends your brand, it helps boost your brand image. Their opinions about the quality of your products and the overall experience can help alter a customer’s purchase decision. 

For instance, in the below post, the popular fitness company Peleton features popular athletes using Peleton products. Fitness recommendations coming from athletes are naturally more convincing than ideas suggested in a random ad. 

This shows how the voice of experts in various industries can be influential social proof that works on targeted audience groups. 

3. The star power

Influencer endorsements are the next most popular type of social proof that businesses big and small can make use of. Data shows that the purchase decisions of nearly 39% of social media users are influenced by recommendations from their favorite influencers. 

Most importantly, influencers have a strong social media presence. Therefore, if you are looking to leverage social proof as a tool to boost your social media performance, then collaborating with relevant influencers can be highly effective. 

The below post from Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty features an influencer trying one of their products and showing actual results. As seen in this example, seeing the product in action, the results in real life can be more convincing. Moreover, scroll through Rare Beauty’s Instagram page and you’ll notice that they often collaborate with micro and nano influencers because they are known to have more authentic interactions and better engaged communities. 

Or in the below post, Armani Beauty features Sadie Sink talking about her favorite products from the brand’s lineup. Fans of the actor who come across this video might be intrigued and might even give some of the recommended products a shot. Another great example of social proof! 

4. Throw the spotlight on your awards and recognition 

Awards and recognition that come from external sources are great social proof to win the trust of potential customers. These can also be a good way to strengthen your relationship with existing customers. 

An award highlights specific aspects of your business, and can also establish that your brand has been evaluated and recognized by industry experts and trusted authorities. Such acknowledgments for your excellence can boost the credibility of your brand. 

For instance, Adobe shared the below post celebrating making it to Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list. 

Some companies also leverage this in the form of displaying badges that represent various certifications or awards. And this detail added to your home page can instantly boost your brand’s credibility. Like the eye-grabbing badges right below the hero image on the homepage of a popular mattress company, Emma. These details showcase industry recognition for your product/brand and encourage potential customers to consider your brand over competitors.

5. The power in numbers 

Beyond individual voices and accolades, social proof can also be in the form of showing the magnitude of your customers. It can be about the number of people who trust your company. This collective trust placed in your brand can be a great motivator for potential buyers. This works because a large and engaged user base suggests that your brand has a brilliant track record.

There are many ways to highlight your vast customer base. For instance, year-end summaries showing a quick recap of the big numbers crunched over the year. Like Google’s Year-In-Search trend. Their annual summaries emphasize the fact that a majority of internet users rely on the search engine to get answers. And in a way, the search engine is a driver behind various trends as well. 

Now that we’ve discussed the types of social proof you can use in your marketing strategies, let’s move to the question of where to feature them! 

Where to Place Social Proof for Maximum Impact

On your website homepage for that strong first impression 

Your website homepage is your virtual storefront. Therefore it makes a great spot to feature social proof. It’s like the crowd in a store that instantly reels you in! 

As can be seen in the examples we discussed so far, social proof can be in the form of user reviews or badges representing certifications and awards. 

KIMP Tips: 

Now let’s talk about some quick tips to integrate social proof seamlessly into your homepage design: 

  • Place social proof after a few key details that communicate the core message rather than overwhelming users right away. 
  • Use visuals like customer photos and well-recognized badges and icons to create a crisp and visually engaging display of information. 
  • Add a relevant CTA right after the social proof element to guide visitors toward desired actions. The below design shows how effective this can be. 
Landing page design by KIMP 
In your emails to boost engagement 

Another great place for your social proof is in your emails. When you are crafting an email highlighting a new product or a bestseller, what better way to validate your claims than through actual user testimonials? 

Besides, emails allow for A/B testing different types of social proof to see what resonates best with your audience. 

Email design by KIMP 

KIMP Tips: 

  • Find the right kinds of reviews that resonate with specific customer segments, those relevant to their interests or needs.
  • Feature short impactful excerpts that highlight specific pain points your product/brand addresses. 
Integrate into social media posts for conversion

Several purchase decisions happen on social media. Hence this is a great place to feature social proof. These could be in the form of static image posts highlighting single reviews like the one below or a carousel highlighting a set of reviews that seamlessly tell a story about a particular product or service. Or even in the form of simple testimonial videos that put user-generated content to good use. 

Social media design by KIMP 

KIMP Tips: 

  • Use standard on-brand templates to create a cohesive aesthetic when featuring reviews on social media. 
  • Don’t forget to tag or mention relevant accounts to give them due credits. 
In digital ads, etc.

Within the limited space available for digital ads like in-app ads and banner ads, you need something relevant and impactful to drive people to your website. Social proof can be this driver. 

Given the limited space and the need to attract attention instantly, explore social proof elements like star ratings or customer quotes. These can work in diverse configurations like the example here. 

Web banner design by KIMP 

KIMP Tips: 

  • Keep the text and visual elements clear and concise. 
  • Test different variations in terms of the arrangement of elements for different banner dimensions. 
  • Use proper color contrast and fonts for easy readability. 
On print designs 

The other best spot for your social proof will be print designs like flyers and billboards. Social proof can enhance the trust factor in these tangible marketing elements. 

Especially in the case of text-heavy informative designs like flyers and brochures, user reviews and testimonials, details about awards and accolades can all add a layer of credibility at relevant touchpoints. 

In the below example, the testimonial from an attendee of the program promoted gives those considering the program a few more reasons to sign up for it. 

Flyer design by KIMP 

The X (formerly Twitter) campaign featuring iconic Tweets on billboards is a solid example of social proof. It’s a visual reminder of how some of the most influential figures use the platform to express their views and share their thoughts thus giving users even more reasons to explore the platform. 

KIMP Tips: 

  • Use visual cues to break down the text in your reviews featured in print. 
  • Pick fonts that are easy to read. 
  • Tailor social proof elements that seamlessly fit into the context of the chosen print design and the message conveyed. 

Tap Into the Power of Social Proof in Your Marketing Designs With KIMP 

In short, social proof is an impactful tool to build trust, drive conversions, and boost engagement. User reviews, case studies, testimonial videos, star ratings, award details – there is so much you can feature. But it all depends on their strategic placement and relevant visual presentation of these. You need the right creative assets in various formats like images, videos, and simple animations to draw attention to specific elements in the social proof while also ensuring that the message is clear. 

This is where the expertise of an experienced design team can make a difference. This is where a KIMP subscription can make a difference. Sign up for a 7-day free trial today!