Imagine you’re shopping online for a new couch. You may be considering two or three options, and unfortunately you can’t try them out for yourself. Chances are you’re reading reviews before making your final decision. (Who doesn’t?)
According to the product reviews, option one has a 4.5-star rating with over a thousand reviews, and option two has a 2-star rating with only 30 reviews. Which one do you decide to purchase?
The winner is most likely option one — unless you’re a risk-taker, of course! This is called social proof, and you may not even realize how much you rely on it. It’s basically the idea that if other people think something is cool, you probably will too.
Did you know? 93.4% of online shoppers rely on customer reviews when they aren’t familiar with a brand, and 93% won’t even purchase until reading reviews.
Some people view social proof as a psychological phenomenon — the assumption that the actions or opinions of others demonstrate the correct behaviour for a given circumstance. Social proof is particularly present in situations where people are unable to determine the “correct” course of action, so they look to others for guidance. Think about how many times you’ve done this personally and you’ll know that social proof influences way more way than just your shopping habits.
Whether it’s buying something based on review count and experience, or a service based on a friend’s recommendation, social proof is a justification and affirmation process you’re already engaged in, likely every day.
Different kinds of social proof include:
When people shop, they look for reviews and recommendations from other customers who’ve purchased or used the product or service themselves. People are more likely to hit the checkout button if they see others love and approve of the product. They’re more likely to take the next step and ask about your service when they see other people have had great experiences.
Social proof helps people trust you more quickly, while improving your reputation and increasing sales to new or returning customers.
On the other hand, social proof can negatively affect your business, too. If you’re selling a product or service that has problems or doesn’t deliver on its promises, social proof can backfire and decrease your business sales dramatically.
If your business has ever had customers, the hardest part is already done! You’ve sold your product or service — now you just need to ask these customers to review it. You should start by determining what you want to know from clients and creating a set of questions for them to answer. These may include…
To gather these answers, you can communicate with your clients through email or an online form on your website. You can also prompt your website visitors to complete a Google review. Make it easy and efficient for customers to review you, and consider offering a small incentive to current clients.
Improving your brand reputation starts with social proofing. Your customers will feel confident spending their money on your brand knowing that other people have, too!