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Building Trust and Credibility with Social Proof

These six tactics can give your business the credibility it needs to increase conversion rates using one of Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence: Social Proof.

Author: Jeremy Harrison

Updated: November 4, 2021

In 2009, one guy in a crowd of leisurely concert-goers started to dance by himself. He was totally into it, but everyone else around him just kind of snickered and continued listening to the music. Then another guy joined his dance. Then another. Two minutes later, hundreds of people gathered around him, cheering and dancing with their hands up.

You can hear people at the end of this video asking, “How did he do that?” 

The answer: Social proof. 

Social Proof

Social proof is one of six influence principles identified by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, written in 1984. This book has made a direct impact on the way we market our businesses, especially in the realm of digital advertising. 

Social proof is the idea that people will do what they see other people doing. As social creatures, it’s built into our nature to want to belong. When a new restaurant opens up in town and you see lots of people going there, you are going to be more likely to try it out. If an event pops up on Facebook and you see 15 of your friends are also interested or going, you’re more likely to want to clear your schedule and attend the event, too. 

When we see other people—people we respect, admire, and value, especially—doing something, we want to be doing it, too. The Influencer movement on social media is rooted in the concept of social proof. 

When you provide evidence that other people just like your buyer are doing business with your company, it builds trust in a way that helps persuade that buyer to take the next step toward working with you, too.

Social Proof in Practice

Social proof is at work in each of these tactics and has been proven to improve conversion time and time again. Here are several ways this principle can be put into practice in your business: 

  1. Iconography: Display the logos of other businesses you’ve worked with and include social media icons where your business is represented. These visual triggers help a customer visualize the type of crowd that is gathered around you and whether their business will fit in with that crowd.
  2. Testimonials: Request testimonials from your key customers that represent the kinds of businesses you want to be working with, and feature them on your website, landing page, and in other marketing materials. For the best results, include their name, title, and photo along with their quote to help establish the credibility of their testimonial.
  3. Case Studies: Not only does the case study lend emphasis to the other types of businesses you’ve helped, it also provides practical evidence that whatever you’re offering worked for someone else, social proof it may work for me, too.
  4. Reviews: Don’t overlook the power of reviews on third-party websites. In fact, in 2017, a whopping 93% of consumers said that online reviews impacted their buying decisions. Encourage your customers to join the party crowd and leave a review.
  5. Data: How many people have you helped? How many years have you been in business? How many locations are you in? Whatever metrics matter most to you and to your customer, display them prominently on your website. It’ll help your customer see themselves as fitting within your numbers.
  6. Social Media: Tools like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are built upon social proof. By nature, we want to be where the cool kids are. Engaging in positive conversations with your customers on social media, showcasing (and saving) what people have said about you, and connecting with your customers in ways that cultivate a community of rabid fans will make their friends want to be a part of the movement, too.

I am confident that if you incorporate even just one of these tactics into your marketing, you’ll begin to see improved
conversion rates. If you’d like help finding and shaping your business’s story using social proof and other principles of influence, we can help.

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