This post provides nine visual and brilliant examples of how digital marketers use “social proof” on some of our favorite websites to increase followers, purchases, sign ups, email subscriptions and conversions. If utilized the correct way, this marketing tactic can be a very effective digital marketing strategy. When you’re done reading this post please share any brilliant ways you’ve seen digital marketers use social proof to influence users.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where a person looks to the actions of others as assurance (or proof) that the decision they intend to make is the correct one.
Social proof is also 1 of the 6 key principles of influence, as researched by Robert Cialdini for his book titled, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. When discussing social proof, he gave a very interesting example of how social proof influences people. In an experiment one or more people would look into the sky, and other bystanders who saw this looked up into the sky as well. This reaction occurs in many scenarios, and of course it happens online. We look for social proof before we purchase, subscribe, or follow.
I recently experienced social proof offline with my wife when visiting a new outlet mall in the the Chicago-land area. We attempted to walk into a Tory Burch (no clue who that is) store, but we were quickly stopped and told to wait in a line of about 10 people before we could enter. As I looked into the store I noticed only about 15 people were actually in the store. It quickly dawned on me that this was a tactic of social proof. Tory Burch was attempting to influence bystanders by creating a line of people outside the door. Being the savvy marketer I am, I refused to wait in line knowing that I was being psychologically toyed with. However, as a digital marketer I must admit that I am some what of a hypocrite because I not only envy social proof tactics online but utilize them as well.
Types of Social Proof Online:
- Displaying # of downloads
- Displaying the # of purchases
- Displaying the # of subscribers
- Displaying your # of followers
- Case studies
- Showing # of views
- Showing # of comments or engagements
- Displaying customer logos
- Share buttons (that display number of shares)
Below are some brilliant examples of how websites use social proof to improve conversions. To some this may seem like bragging, but to marketers, it’s just brilliant.
Can anything be more impressive and reassuring than seeing that 6,644 companies signed up last week for Basecamp. Obviously they’re doing something right. Let’s sign up!
So you’re telling me that you have 4,500 happy customers? That’s good enough for me. Where do I sign up?
Wait, how many jobs have been posted in the last 30 days? And how much money have people on your site earned? Heck ya, I’ll register now!
4. Social Media Examiner
220,000 of my peers read your blog regularly? Wow! Yes, I would like updates. Here’s my name and email address.
5. Active Campaign
Well, I do need help with email marketing, and I am a small business. You say that you’ve helped 100,000 small businesses with email marketing.
…ya got me. Where’s the sign up button?
6. Web Designer Depot
Surely 353,254 people can’t be wrong. They would have opted out if the content stunk and they got spammed. You want my email address? Oh, why not.
Should I follow this Danny Sullivan guy? He says he talks about SEO.
…HOLD THE PHONE! He’s got over 300,000 followers. Following now! Thanks for the insight twitter.
I don’t want to waste my time watching a boring video. However, this video has been viewed over 87,000,000 times. It’s got to be good. PLAY! PLAY PLAY!
As a person who has purchased many themes, I really need to know which themes are good and which are bad. 34,000 purchases gives me the assurance I need.
If you’re thinking of utilizing social proof as a digital marketing strategy, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that it should be very easy to display an automated or manual number on your site to help sell whatever you’re selling. The bad news is that you may have to wait until you get your numbers up. Five subscribers are impressive but 5,000 subscriber are very impressive.
Please share any social proof examples you can think of below.