Using Social Proof In Marketing: Tips For B2B, B2C, And Non-Profits

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doctorpc June 19, 2021 0 Comments

Marketing any organization puts you in a weird position. On the one hand, you need to reach as many people as possible and get those conversions. On the other, you’re a consumer – squinting through all the suspicious claims, jargon, and content noise, trying to spot the real deal.

If only there was a helpful, genuine tactic that benefits both business and customer! Well of course there is, otherwise this blog post would be over. But now we’ve set the stage to introduce the magical method: using social proof in marketing.

Social proof is the ONLY kind of marketing content that people not only appreciate, but habitually seek out on their own.

  • It’s trustworthy, because it’s based on data or content from real people outside your company
  • It can provide use case examples and answer FAQs that result in purchases
  • It’s informative, reassuring, and can cost absolutely nothing

Whether it’s customers, clients, or potential donors you seek, using social proof is the most authentic way to help people understand that what you have is exactly what they need.

We’ll dig into what social proof actually is, tips on how to build social proof, and examples of social proof in marketing for B2B, B2C, and non-profits – including where to use social proof on your website and marketing channels. This guide is a doozy!

Contents 

  • What does social proof mean?
  • What is social proof in marketing?
  • How to Build Social Proof for Your Business
    • 1. Encourage Reviews and Testimonials
    • 2.Brand Ambassadors
    • 3. Enter Industry Contests
    • 4. Distribute Press Releases
    • 5. Gather User-Generated Content
    • 6. Use Tools
  • 28 Social Proof Examples
    • B2B Marketing
    • B2C Marketing
    • Non-Profit Marketing
  • Final Thoughts

What does social proof mean?

Social proof is the human instinct to be influenced by, and to copy, the actions of others.

The phrase was coined in 1984 by American psychologist Robert Cialdini. Its origins are about herd behaviour, conformity, and compliance, and our deep-rooted belief that if we’re a bit unsure of what to do and everybody else is doing a thing, then that’s what we should do, too.

That all sounds kind of gross and manipulative, but I promise that’s not what we’re talking about here. There are many honest, legitimate uses of social proof in marketing, which I recommend to clients all the time.

What is social proof in marketing?

As long as there has been print media and radio, businesses have attempted to use social proof in ads by claiming that “everybody” was wearing that saucy new brassiere or smoking those tasty cigarettes. But the only means to actually find out what everybody thought was to read consumer magazines, call your way through your Rolodex, or ask everybody at your next barbecue.

Now we have an instant, endless supply of social proof at our fingertips. We can send group messages to gather opinions, post to online communities, read Google and Yelp reviews, access case studies, hear expert reviews on podcasts or videos, read the comments on social media… it’s everywhere!

Check out these sweet stats about how well social proof works:

  • The average person reads 10+ online reviews before making a purchase (source)
  • Displaying partner or client logos can increase B2B conversions by as much as 400% (source)
  • 88% of buyers consider reviews just as trustworthy as recommendations from friends or family (source)

Plus, Google Business Profile reviews are a critical piece of local SEO, directly impacting how a local business or organization ranks.

The best part about all this modern social proof is that unlike those old advertising claims, it’s 100% legit. People now expect to be asked to share their opinions.

And when you elevate your social proof, you’re not treating your audience like a sea of lemmings. You’re actually empowering them to research your company, products, or impact through the experiences of others, and to draw their own conclusions.

Sure, using social proof still taps into the reader’s instinct to trust the opinions of a larger group. And you’re guiding them to the group’s consensus by strategically displaying it. But the fact remains that you earned those favourable opinions!

(Unless, of course, you pay people to write fake reviews, or outright lie and fabricate social proof, which is so wrong.)

How to Build Social Proof for Your Business

Most businesses that have been around for five or more years have accumulated at least some social proof, somewhere.

Newer organizations, however, might yet not have any data or reviews. Some industries might not be legally or morally able to share the most convincing facts in testimonials or success stories. It’s also possible that your company just never tracked any data before.

Whatever your situation, you can easily start building social proof through these five popular methods.

1. Encourage Reviews and Testimonials

There are lots of ways to earn this content, so please don’t resort to getting friends, family, or employees to write fake reviews!

Here’s how to be legit about it:

    • Make it quick and easy for clients to leave a company review by sending them a link to your Google Business, Yelp, or other review site
    • Provide a direct method to leave product reviews, like a targeted follow-up email after purchases, a website survey, text message, or social post that links to the desired review location
    • Contact satisfied clients to provide a testimonial
    • If appropriate, turn reviews into a fun community by showcasing customer photo reviews on your website and social media
    • Offer an incentive for honest reviews, like a free trial, early access, gated content, coupon, contest entry, or a free feature, service, or upgrade
    • Contact people who leave positive comments on your social posts and ask if you can publish them as website reviews
    • If appropriate for a non-profit, ask the people you’ve helped if you can interview them for a success story
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