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The Power of Social Proof in Marketing: 10 Ways to Use It from Sprout Social

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people look to the actions of others to guide their behavior and decisions. Social proof hugely influences marketing and can be leveraged across campaigns to build trust and credibility and drive conversions.

This in-depth guide from Sprout Social will explore ten impactful ways to use social proof in your marketing effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Social proof includes customer reviews, testimonials, influencer recommendations, social media engagement, and more.
  • 89% of customers read online reviews before purchasing, making reviews a powerful social proof.
  • Showcasing happy customers builds trust and makes potential customers more likely to buy your products/services.
  • Influencer marketing leverages influencers’ social proof and credibility to promote your brand.
  • Social media engagement, like shares likes, and comments, act as social proof and influence purchasing decisions.
  • Social proof can significantly lift conversion rates when incorporated on high-value pages like your homepage, product pages, etc.
A group of people demonstrating social proof by holding up social media icons.

What is Social Proof, and Why is it Important?

Social proof refers to how people look to the behavior and decisions of others to guide their actions. It stems from the “informational social influence” principle and makes us more likely to trust something if we see others using, engaging with, or recommending it.

In essence – seeing others use, like, share, or validate something gives us confidence to follow suit. Humans are wired to look to the crowd, so we unconsciously trust in it whenever we see collective proof or approval.

There are many types of social proof, which we’ll explore shortly. But fundamentally, incorporating social proof signals into your marketing instills credibility and trust among your audience. It plays a massive role in influencing purchasing decisions and driving conversions.

Studies by Nielsen show that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of marketing. While 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.

So, if you aren’t leveraging social proof in your marketing efforts, you’re missing out on compelling conversion opportunities hiding in plain sight.

10 Ways to Use Social Proof in Your Marketing

Here are the ten most impactful applications of social proof to leverage in your overall marketing and content strategy:

1. Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are among the most direct and influential examples of social proof. A staggering 89% of consumers read business reviews before making purchasing decisions. And 78% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

A steady flow of recent, positive customer reviews helps build social proof that your business offers excellent products/services. Consumer trust reviews so much that even a half-star increase can lift conversion rates by almost 30%!

Action step: Proactively request customers leave reviews after purchase. Feature them prominently on your homepage and product pages.

Young woman giving thumbs up as social proof in front of a group of people.

2. Testimonials

Testimonials take customer reviews one step further by having influencers, industry experts, and happy customers provide focused recommendations about your brand, products, or services.

Compelling, emotional testimonials help make your benefits more relatable while leveraging the social proof of recommendation sources. Display them prominently on high-value pages using images/video for maximum impact.

Action step: Reach out to loyal customers and relevant industry figures to provide testimonials reinforcing your brand promise.

3. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves partnering with relevant social media influencers to promote your products and services to their engaged, trusting audiences. It leverages the social proof and credibility influencers have nurtured to boost your brand equity.

Even a single Instagram post from an influencer presenting your product positively to their followers can create a viral ripple of awareness and interest. Use affiliate links so influencers promote conversion as well.

Action step: Identify influencers in your niche with engaged followers. Reach out to set up collaborative partnerships.

A Social Media Influencer sitting on the floor with a camera and a laptop.

4. Social Shares and Engagement

Social media provides endless opportunities to build and showcase social proof signals that make your brand more discoverable and trusted.

Leverage user-generated content by encouraging social shares of your owned media using hashtags and @mentions. High numbers of likes, comments, and views are solid social endorsements. Plus, each share expands your content’s reach further.

Action step: Track campaign hashtag and @mention volume. Repurpose top social content across platforms to maximize reach.

5. Social Followers/Subscribers

While less directly linked to conversion than some social proof types, having many social media followers and subscribers builds brand credibility through the principle of “the bandwagon effect.”

Humans unconsciously trust in collective approval. So, seeing 50K Instagram followers or 100K email subscribers plants the idea your business is thriving and well-received.

Action step: Grow your owned social media channels by posting valuable content daily. Offer email signup incentives to build subscriber numbers.

6. Celebrity & Business Partnerships

Partnering with established celebrity influencers and businesses helps transfer their brand credibility onto your own by association. Look for relevant partnerships that allow you to create co-branded products or collaborate on campaigns.

Even a short celebrity endorsement video conveying positive sentiment around your brand makes audiences more receptive through fame-based social proof transfer.

Action step: Brainstorm win-win partnership opportunities with credible brands to build borrowed equity and awareness.

7. Social Media Plugins

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube offer free social media plugins like share bars, follow buttons, and subscriber widgets that help build social proof directly on your owned platforms.

Visually displaying your social proof metrics helps reinforce community trust and credibility. Position them in sticky sidebars or website headers so they are prominently visible.

Action step: Audit your website, and signup flows to incorporate relevant social plugins that maximize visual social proof.

8. Awards & Certifications

Prominently showcasing industry awards, certifications like “Facebook Blueprint Certified,” and media features establish third-party proof that you are recognized as a thought leader.

Awards act as social solid reinforcement that you deliver extreme value. Display them across channels like your homepage, email signatures, LinkedIn profile, and more.

Action step: Track relevant industry awards and nominations cycles. Self-nominate your business for consideration by award committees.

A nurse holding flowers, providing social proof through her certificate.

9. User-Generated Content

User-generated content like customer photos featuring your product in context acts as authentic social proof that real customers enjoy your product or service.

Proactively invite customers to submit visual content and reviews. Then, creatively showcase the most potent images across channels – like Instagram galleries or video testimonial reels.

Action step: Incentivize customers to submit visual content through giveaways and competitions to drive engagement.

10. Referral Programs

Nothing builds social proof quite like peer word-of-mouth recommendations. Savvy brands incentivize referrals through special discount codes and loyalty perks to harness customer advocacy.

This amplifies organic WOM sharing driven by providing an exceptional product experience that customers naturally want to share with friends. Tapping into referrals this way turbocharges social proof development.

Action step: Develop a customized referral program that rewards existing customers for spreading brand awareness—track referral volume as a metric.

A pair of shoes capturing the essence of Social Proof in Marketing, showcased next to the word social media.


Still, have some questions about leveraging social proof? Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Q: What are some examples of social proof I can show?

Significant examples include customer reviews, testimonials, case studies, media features, awards/certifications, referral volume, social followers, engagement metrics like likes and shares, UGC, etc.

Q: Where should I display social proof on my website?

The best places to showcase social proof include your homepage, “About Us” page, individual product/service pages, pricing pages, contact page, website header/sidebar, popups, and confirmation pages to name top options.

Q: How much does social proof increase the conversion rate?

Correctly leveraged, social proof can lift conversion rates by up to 400%! Customer testimonials alone can increase conversion by 34%. While ratings/reviews influence between 67 and 90% of purchasing decisions, depending on the industry.

Q: How do I get more social proof fast?

Offer email signup and social sharing incentives, run referral programs rewarding share volume, partner with influencers to build credibility, proactively request reviews/UGC from top customers, offer co-branded partnership opportunities, and apply for relevant awards.

Q: Isn’t buying social proof signals unethical?

Yes, purchasing followers, likes, reviews, etc, erodes consumer trust if discovered. All social proof must stem from authentic user experiences, engagement, and advocacy. There are no shortcuts – but there are many ethical ways to accelerate legitimate social proof signals.

Q: What tools can help manage social proof?

All-in-one social media management platforms like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and AgoraPulse have built-in analytics to track engagement and referral volume. Plus, user-generated content management and influencer identification tools to activate advocacy.

A person demonstrating social proof by holding a thumbs up and a thumbs down sign on a blue background.

Wrap Up

There are clearly endless opportunities to ethically leverage different social proof types like ratings, reviews, testimonials, influencers, partnerships, engagement signals, certifications and referral volume across your digital ecosystem.

Use this guide as inspiration to conduct an audit identifying where adding or emphasizing social proof could positively influence customer trust and purchasing decisions. Don’t leave this hidden conversion potential untapped!

The psychological influence of social proof generates real ROI. So start actively incorporating it across touchpoints high in the purchase funnel. Continually reinforce proof elements post-conversion as well, to harness the selling power of customer advocacy through reviews and referrals.

Let the crowd go to work for your business! Then track conversion and revenue metrics diligently over time to quantify the revenue impact aggregating legitimate social proof delivers at scale.

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