Herd instinct exists. Yes, yes, when a person does not know how to do better, he follows a crowd. This protective mechanism was given to him by nature: together it is easier to chase away the saber-toothed tiger and catch the mammoth. You can consciously control your behavior, but the subconscious mental patterns will work whenever the rationo cannot quickly find answers to external challenges. Even Holden Caulfield, Randle McMurphy and Guy Montag wanted to be like everyone else when they relaxed and forgot everything they knew about society.
Herd instinct works in marketing. Here it is called social proof. This is confirmed by various studies: people are more willing to buy a product about which other consumers are complimentary. Marketers effectively use the desire of a person to be like everyone else. Remember, for example, "it is better for a man not" and "a new generation chooses Pepsi". Want to know how to properly use social proof in internet marketing? Read the walkthrough.
- Step 1: Use Customer Reviews and Ratings
- Allow the audience to share product feedback.
- Use a rating system
- Use guerilla marketing
- Step 2: Present Social Evidence with Reviews
- Ask professionals to describe the product.
- Create reviews yourself
- Refer to other people's reviews.
- Step 3: Sign on social networks
- Use community potential
- Enlist the support of influential users.
- Share your product or company
- Communicate with the audience
- Increase Subscribers
- Steps 4 and 5: Use the authority of experts and celebrities
- Participate in comparative tests and ratings
- Invite stars to advertise
- Become a public expert in your industry.
- Step 6: Use the trust elements on the website and landing pages.
- Step 7: Use the information as social proof.
- Just love the flock of sheep
What is social proof?
Social proof is a psychic pattern that forces a person to choose the behaviors of the majority when he cannot objectively assess the situation. If anything, this is one of the particulars of the herd instinct. How does she work in marketing?
According to Google, 70% of consumers are looking for product reviews when planning a deal. Moreover, the CompUSA retailer found that almost two thirds of users prefer to buy products on sites that have a rating and review system. It's simple: people want to know what other customers think about the product.
With regard to Internet marketing, there are the following types of social evidence:
- Consumer reviews. The audience eagerly draws attention to the opinion of ordinary buyers.
- Reviews. They help potential buyers to obtain detailed information about the properties and characteristics of the product.
- Signals on social networks: "I like" marks, reposts, comments. Here the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the signals are important.
- Opinion of famous experts. They may be in the form of reviews or reviews.
- Opinion celebrities. For some audience segments and product categories, celebrity words replace dozens of reviews and hundreds of reviews.
- Trust site interface elements: numbers, icons, customer logos, image awards, etc.
- Informational evidence: case studies, white paper, research results.
You can use some or all of the listed types of social evidence to promote a project. Below you will find specific recommendations with examples.
Step 1: Use Customer Reviews and Ratings
This is the easiest and most obvious way to apply social proof. To use it, follow the recommendations below.
Allow the audience to share product feedback.
Include in the site interface the ability to leave and read reviews. To see the realization of this idea, visit the site of a large online store, for example, Svyaznoy or Euroset. In order for the audience to actively leave and read reviews, proceed as follows:
- Make the testimonial block noticeable. For example, display the latest user records on the product description page or place a link to the block at the top of the screen.
- Show the total number or number of positive and negative reviews in front of products on the category page. This will allow users to identify the most popular products.
- Stimulate users to share their opinions about the product. Pay for a review with bonus or real money, give discounts and coupons, hold a contest for the best opinion - in a word, do something that will help get more user content.
- Let me leave feedback through accounts on social networks. First, it simplifies writing a comment to the product. Secondly, some users like to show off their shopping, so they are happy to “share” their opinions.
Use a rating system
These can be stars, pros and cons, ratings on a five- or ten-point scale, and other symbols. The most obvious example of introducing ratings is YouTube with its “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” under the video.
To effectively use custom assessments in marketing, use the following guidelines:
- Implement microdata, with which reviews are displayed in search results. The following resources will help you:
- An article on basic types of markup and microdata such as JSON-LD.
- Plugin All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets for WordPress and Rich Snippets Vote or J4Schema for Joomla. The second plugin is very capricious, but this disadvantage is compensated by its functionality.
- An article on local search that describes how to get feedback on products on Google+.
- Display the ratio of ratings on the product description page and on the category pages.
- Add social widgets to product description pages. I like marks can be viewed as user ratings. Be sure to use widgets with visual social network buttons, for example, Pinterest. The audience uses them to express an intention to buy a product.
Use guerilla marketing
Use guerrilla marketing techniques only if you sell very high-quality products. In this case, most of the feedback received will be positive. To get reviews and assessments by guerrilla methods, ask users for feedback on the product in thematic social communities and forums. Act so that you are not accused of hidden advertising.
Try not to stoop to obvious advertising: allegedly random references to the product, imposing your point of view. You use guerrilla marketing to get the opinion of real consumers about a quality product.
You will find some more recommendations in our article on customer reviews.
Step 2: Present Social Evidence with Reviews
View reviews as extended reviews created by professionals and advanced users. The audience considers this type of content as a source of reliable information about the properties and quality of goods and services. Therefore, reviews should be detailed and objective. Use the ideas below.
Ask professionals to describe the product.
Talk to professionals in your industry. It can be:
- Bloggers with thematic resources and a reader base.
- Editors of industry publications.
- Advanced users of the selected product category.
To motivate professionals, send them a product sample or a free subscription to the service. Create a press kit for bloggers and journalists. If the budget allows, hire professionals to create a series of reviews. As an example of using this tactic, video reviews created by the famous guitarist Sergey Tabachnikov for the Skifmusic instrument store can be noted.
Create reviews yourself
As noted above, two-thirds of consumers are reviewing reviews and reviews before purchasing online. Make customers read and watch this type of content on your resource. What does this have to do with social evidence? After the publication of the good review on your resource you receive comments and questions of users. They will help you influence the opinion of the undecided part of the audience.
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You can also publish reviews on third-party resources. Depending on the site, place them as a guest post or advertising. You will increase the reach of users and receive additional feedback, which will be your social proof.
Refer to other people's reviews.
If you sell typical products, use other people's reviews as social proof. Everything is simple: you just need to put a link to the blog of a famous geek who praises a certain model of the smartphone.
Please note that this tactic can lead to the loss of some traffic and transactions. For example, if you refer to an online store website where you can buy a product cheaper, you will surely lose a customer. Therefore, use links to other people's reviews selectively: do not advertise someone else's business.
Step 3: Sign on social networks
Network resources are one of the most powerful tools for generating and disseminating social evidence. You are already using the "share" blocks, which bring you shareings and likes. Proceed further.
Use community potential
Create groups and company pages in social networks. Get social proof in the following ways:
- Announce the content that you publish on the site: articles, reviews, product descriptions. Your task is to get the maximum response in the form of "likes", sharing and comments.
- Organize and support thematic discussions. For example, create an album for custom photos and invite subscribers to share images of the products they use. You are guaranteed to get a hot discussion almost with a fight.
- Hold contests. Usually they are used to attract attention to the product and the seller. However, the popularity of the competition and custom content can be used as social proof.
- Use voting. This is one of the most obvious ways to get social evidence on online resources.
- Take advantage of visual networking. If you manage to launch a viral campaign, make a popular hashtag, force users to publish photos with your product, consider that they have received gigabytes of social evidence.
- If you sell a very famous, high-quality or even a cult product, use trolling. For example, if you are selling SEO services, write to the SEO community that, they say, SEO has long since died, and now content marketing is driving. You will receive a mountain of social proof of the viability of the old school of advancement. Be sure to use a fake account for trolling. In order for this tactic to work, your product must have many loyal defenders.
Enlist the support of influential users.
Everything is very simple here: you need "likes", reposts and comments of users who have a large subscriber base and authority in your industry. How to get a response from influential people? Use all available methods: ask, motivate, mention, buy.
If you sell a quality and exclusive product, you just have to show it to the opinion leaders. If the product is typical, you will have to somehow interest an influential user. As a motivator, you can use one or another type of payment: personal discounts, exclusive terms of service, mutual mention, etc.
Share your product or company
This can be done in groups, on a corporate website or in personal accounts of employees. To find references, use the following tools:
- Search by hashtags.
- Search by product and company name.
- Checking user accounts, "share" your entry.
Also use the special tools described in the article about brand references on the web. What if you found a flattering review or comment? Immediately tell the world about it.
Communicate with the audience
This recommendation is primarily relevant for large corporations. With the help of communication in social networks, you can prove that you see specific customers and their needs behind sales plans, while you yourself remain people, and not faceless customer service managers. How to communicate in social networks? Yes, somehow:
- Reply to comments on posts in your public.
- Publish interesting content.
- Tell about successfully implemented projects.
- Share photos from corporate events.
- Share your opinions with colleagues.
In a word, do everything to show the audience that you are living normal people.
Use as social proof the number of page and group subscribers. To do this, install on the site widgets popular networks: "Vkontakte" and Facebook.
You will find recipes for increasing the subscriber base in articles about promoting pages and groups in Vkontakte and Facebook. Avoid cheating the number of groups with bots, intrusive invitations, spam. You need real subscribers, so prefer the natural ways of promotion: the publication of useful content, contests, professional discussions.
Steps 4 and 5: Use the authority of experts and celebrities
You already use as a social proof of assessment and feedback from professionals. With the help of the ideas described below, you can convert the credibility of famous people and experts into social proof.
Participate in comparative tests and ratings
You have probably come across comparative software reviews, tire tests from different manufacturers, ratings of the most reliable banks. Usually they are conducted by reputable publications, expert groups or reputable companies. Your task is to participate in industry ratings.
Choose ratings and tests in which your company or product will most likely get a good press. To do this, you must by all means know in advance the conditions of the competition and the criteria for judging. To get social proof, you do not need to win prizes. It is enough not to fail during the testing and it is profitable to present the results to the audience. For example, if you ranked ninth out of 15 participants, feel free to write that your product is in the top 10 based on the results of the competition.
Invite stars to advertise
Oddly enough, this banal tactic works precisely because of the strength of social evidence. Your grandmother buys laundry detergent from a certain manufacturer, because some celebrity on TV said that he was good. Your advanced customers will buy the product as pretty if Celebrity says so.
Follow these guidelines:
- Choose celebrities and advertising channels based on audience preferences. If your grandmother is watching on Petrosyan TV, then a relatively young audience of Internet projects is looking for Martirosyan on YouTube.
- Use different formats for the participation of celebrities in advertising. Depending on the budget, you can arrange a paid post in the star's account or the participation of a group of celebrities in the video shooting. Information about the services on which the stars trade in tweets, you will find in the article on the promotion of applications.
- Use as an advertisement collaboration with famous people. For example, pay attention to the case about the promotion of the site "Eat at Home".
Become a public expert in your industry.
In this case, for social proof will come to you. Your credibility will automatically spread to the company and products. This tactic is used by many Internet entrepreneurs. For example, the famous online marketer Neil Patel is a welcome guest at any industry conference and on the pages of online publications. This directly affects the popularity of his products: KissMetrics, Hello Bar, Quicksprout and what else he has invented.
If you have successfully implemented your project, it means that you have already become an expert in the chosen case. To use your expertise as a social proof, you need to become a public expert. Use the following tactics:
- Keep a blog. This can be a personal diary or a platform for your company's publications. Feel free to share knowledge with your audience. It turns you into an expert in the eyes of users.
- Participate in industry events.
- Show evidence of your expertise: publish case studies, talk about achievements and rewards.
- If you are promoting a project in burzhuneta, answer questions in Quora. Unfortunately, domestic question and answer services did not receive the same popularity and prestige as this social service.
- Show yourself: share your interests and hobbies with the audience, communicate on abstract topics.You have decided to become public, so do not hide behind introversion.
Step 6: Use the trust elements on the website and landing pages.
Chris Howard, an expert at Wider Funnel, a marketing agency, argues that publishing trust elements on sites and landings improves conversion in nine out of 10 cases. These data were obtained using numerous split tests.
What is a trust element? This is any content that acts as a social proof and increases the user's confidence in the resource, product and company. What are the trust elements? Here are a few ideas:
- Information about prizes, awards, positions in ratings.
- Information about membership in industry organizations.
- Customer reviews and experts.
- Marks of popular products.
- Lists of clients and partners.
- Irrational graphic and text messages: "non-GMO", "quality 100%", "natural product", "editorial choice", "product ends", "0% overpayment", "shop number 1", etc.
- Information about employees.
- Attendance counters.
- Photos of offices and retail outlets.
- History of the company.
- Registration data, addresses of offices, information about licenses.
- Images of items symbolizing success, wealth, quality. Just do not use stacks of bills and mountains of gold, it went.
- Information about the sponsorship, the support of social projects, charitable actions.
- Information about vacancies.
- Feedback form with top managers of the company.
- Live broadcast from the office.
- Information about the guarantees of performance of obligations.
- Copy information.
- Detailed product images.
- Messages about product usage conditions and user privacy. Few people read this content, but it serves as social proof of security.
- Financial reports, audit reports.
You do not need to use all trust elements on one page. Select several suitable options, combine them depending on current tasks.
Step 7: Use the information as social proof.
Studies show that the more expensive a product, the more information a consumer learns before purchasing. Your task is to provide potential customers with reliable information necessary to make a decision on a transaction. The audience will be grateful for the following informative social evidence:
- Cases This type of content introduces potential customers with real-life stories of using your product, approaches to solving problems, successes and failures.
- White Paper. The white paper format is an excellent social proof with a high potential for virality.
- Research reports. You do not need to spend money on surveys and experiments. It is enough to refer to the results of research of reputable companies.
- Information on market share, product popularity, user preferences, number of customers, etc.
Just love the flock of sheep
No matter how cynically the line from the song Makarevich sounds in the context of Internet marketing, it accurately describes one of the factors that influence consumer behavior. Everyone wants to be like everyone, even if this desire is unconscious. It remains for you to consciously use it: to present social proof to potential and existing clients.
Use user reviews and reviews, actively exploit the possibilities of social networks. Engage experts and famous people. By the way, the influence of celebrity on the audience is one of the bright proofs of the nature of social proof. After all, each individually knows the price of all these glamorous images, and all together people buy them in parts.
Use informational social evidence to work with an audience that is consciously looking for facts and explanations. Manipulate the perception of potential customers with the help of trust elements: icons, quality marks and phrases like "top sales".
If you want to criticize, supplement or discuss the material, welcome to the comments.