I detest celebrity endorsements and don’t believe a word of them, so what is social proof and how can it help you?
Stop for a moment and think about the other side of your life, yes that’s the one. The one where you’re not acting as a professional, not trying to demonstrate your expertise, but you’re a normal person who wants to buy something.
You as a normal person
I suspect that you (as a normal, buying person) notice celebrity endorsements, and doubt you believe them either. No, I don’t believe that most celebrities are even aware of the range of products that most of them endorse, let along use them regularly (am I getting old and cynical?). As my social circle doesn’t extend to celebrities, I’d be unlikely to accept them as social proof either.
However, I’d happily consider “people like me” and as 56% of people who buy things online say they often read user reviews (OfCom) it’s likely you do too. It’s good to know that others like me have used, do use, and find a service beneficial. It reduces my buying fears, even if I don’t fully believe all the statements. What’s more the trend to use reviews is growing, however cynical you (and I) may be.
What buyers fear
As that normal human being, you probably have the same fears that normal buyers have.
- We might look stupid: Most people want to appear wise, but buying the wrong thing could lead others to think less of us.
- We’ll be disappointed: The service won’t deliver what you want it to
- Overpaying: You’re about to be ripped off or overcharged
- Change: It will be hard to integrate it into our lives and will mean changing the way we do things, if it’s to get used.
- Most importantly: There will be some very specific ones for your service, what are they?
The more fears a buyer has, the less they are likely to buy as there’s too much perceived risk (and we all know about perception and reality). Social proof is part of a risk reduction strategy, even if its subconscious.
Testimonials are a great way of dispelling concerns that other people may think. Most people feel better about a service that is used by people like them, but a good testimonial goes further. A testimonial can be a great way of showing that you know of, and have addressed the natural concerns that your target audience have when they’re considering purchasing services like yours.
Think about getting your testimonials to show what people’s fears were and how your service dissolved those fears. You can read more about the questions that uncover these ideas, by clicking here.
What can you do to show that your prospective clients are in good company, and that people in their social circle have/ do or would use your product? Would some of these help you to demonstrate social proof (if used on your website, social media profiles etc.)?
- Case studies: A longer and specific form of testimonial
- Name dropping: If you can show that trusted brands/ people have used you it can help. Who is the biggest supplier in your niche? What well known service providers work in your niche? How can you show their names on your marketing?
By demonstrating that others (like them) have bought your service, prospects feel they are in good company. Social proof, in whatever form it takes, is a good way of reducing the risk of making a purchase.
What elements of social proof have you noticed in marketing around you?