Every small business understands the value of good digital marketing, and social media's role in increasing brand awareness probably isn't groundbreaking news, either. With digital ads already in place, you might wonder how else your small business can market itself to appeal to a larger audience.
The answer is simple — social proof.
What is Social Proof?
To put it simply, social proof is the idea that people are more likely to do something when they see others doing it. The term was coined in 1984 by author and American psychologist Robert Cialdini to describe the psychological phenomenon of people being compelled to mimic the actions and behaviors of those they interact with or observe regularly.
In the context of marketing, social proof can take on many forms, but the overarching goal is always to show potential customers the positive experiences that others are having with your business or product, making them more likely to do business with you.
In today's society, social proof occurs most often online rather than in person, largely because of the influence of social media. According to Statista, as of 2022, the average person spends 147 minutes a day using social media. This is great news for small businesses looking to use social media to boost sales and increase brand awareness.
What does social proof look like?
There are several ways small businesses can incorporate social proof into their marketing strategy. Here are five of the most common forms of social proof used by businesses:
1) Customer Testimonials
Everyone loves a good, honest review from a fellow customer! Sharing customer testimonials, reviews, or star ratings in your digital ads and on your website and social media pages makes them more visible to other potential shoppers. It helps establish trust and reliability for customers that haven’t yet interacted with you. Just be sure to secure permission to share your customers' testimonials.
2) Expert Approval
This could look like industry awards or endorsements from industry experts who can validate the quality of your service or product. Whether the expert provides written approval in the form of a social media post or makes a personal appearance during a recorded interview or on Instagram Live, expert approvals and recommendations can go a long way towards new customer conversions.
3) Celebrity Endorsements
This form of social proof is pretty self-explanatory. Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t have the budget to gain direct access to Hollywood’s greatest stars, but they can highlight celebrities who live a little closer to home. Focus your efforts on acquiring small-town celebrities and hometown heroes like the mayor, the chief of police, local firefighters, etc.
These “celebrities” can appeal to your local community, promoting authentic engagement with your brand and endorsing your business with fellow locals.
4) Crowd Recommendations
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is, in fact, a real thing! Mass recommendations can come in handy because of the high number of people who are visibly engaging with your brand. When people see large crowds using your service or product, they often start to wonder if they’re missing out on something others are finding valuable or enjoyable.
To support this strategy, you can showcase your social share count (your likes, tweets, pins, etc.) on your website, allowing viewers to see how many times your products or services have been shared with others. The higher your share count, the greater credibility you gain in the eyes of your viewers.
5) Social Media Takeover
This is another great way to use social proof to demonstrate how popular and well-liked your business is. Having someone with a large social media following take over your social media accounts for the day can increase engagement with your audience, grow your number of followers, and boost online sales.
When used correctly, social proof can be a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness, building trust with your audience, and driving sales. Never underestimate the power of this simple marketing technique!
Best sources for finding social proof
Quite often, you can find social proof in the tools you use on a daily basis. Start by taking a look at your internal Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. The data your business has already collected here can provide a detailed account of your growth and engagement over time. Remember the “billions” of hamburgers that one fast food chain sold? Sharing these kinds of numbers with your target audience can reinforce the value your products or services have given past customers.
Do you use any review plugins on your website? If you do, you already have access to customer feedback that can be used and — with customer permission — shared to further promote your business.
Another great source of social proof is other social media profiles. Check to see who has specifically mentioned or tagged your business in their posts, then re-share it - with permission - to build your reputation and expand your follower base.
While the exact ways of using social proof may vary a little from business to business, the power of this tool remains unchanged. Start enhancing your marketing plan with social proof and get ready to watch your business grow!
Next Steps with OfferUp
OfferUp can help. Not only is OfferUp the #1 mobile marketplace nationwide for local businesses, we have the tools and services designed to grow your business. You can use your OfferUp profile and chats to get your own social proof, or run ads showcasing your products and services. Contact OfferUp today to learn more about what we can do for you.