Many of us have heard about social proof, many have probably used it but why don’t small business owners use it on their website? Just a small addition such as a video testimonial could dramatically increase the results you get through your website as it increases the perceived trust people have in you.

In this article, we’re going to discuss the various types of social proof and why it’s so important to marketing your small business.

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof roughly translates as ‘evidence (or proof) from other people (social)’ and it helps to convey just how great your company is by demonstrating just how many fans you have. By having a large number of fans, you help people make buying decisions.

Types of Social Proof

Social proof can be broken down into 6 types:

  1. Testimonials
  2. Reviews
  3. Logos
  4. Case Studies
  5. Social Media Popularity
  6. Media Mentions

Each of these 6 types of social proof have a different purpose, but ultimately help improve your online reputation and website conversion rates, so the importance of social proof cannot be understated.

Type 1: Testimonials

A testimonial is a short, written or video snippet providing an description of a personal experience that someone has had of your product or service. It’s important that these are not generic, something like ‘Showcase is the best’ would possibly do more harm than good, and the more details provided about a particular positive aspect of your product/service the better.

Ideally, you’d capture a testimonial from someone well-known in your chosen industry as this holds more weight/authority than someone unknown, but any testimonial is better than none. The first thing we do when we do anything for a client is ask for a testimonial because we know that if the client is happy to share their experience with others, then we’ve done a good job!

Can’t you just fake testimonials?

Some people worry that putting testimonials on their site is all well and good, but that visitors must think they’ve been faked. It’s a logical thing to worry about but one that’s not a concern for businesses with clients willing to provide testimonials. Many businesses get around this by either providing the contact details of the person giving the testimonial (with their consent of course) so potential clients can follow up with them directly – though it could still be argued that this could be staged. Another method of overcoming this worry is to have a short video testimonial provided, actually showing the person providing the testimonial. This holds most authority if it’s an industry leader putting themselves on camera promoting your business.

Testimonials can be collected on paper (posted in or written down from a phone call), via a social media platform such as Facebook or Twitter, on video via your phone or even by email.

Type 2: Reviews

Reviews are a bit like testimonials in that they provide details about someone’s experience with your product or service, but reviews can also be much more in depth and often cover a range of aspects of your service/product.

Authentic reviews are huge in the online sales / ecommerce industry with 93% of people now saying that they are influenced by others’ reviews before making a purchase online. If your business sells things on the web, you simply MUST have a reviews functionality and encourage your customers to use it. It makes claims that you make on your website real when others review your products/service and mention those things positively and this really can make a huge difference to your conversions.

There is also another type of review which is the type of review you find when new products are launched. This ‘interview review’ is where someone will test and rate each part of your product / service and write extensively about it. This can be really good feedback for making future improvements and will also provide good information to your potential customers about what they are thinking of purchasing.

Type 3: Logos

There is a lot of inherent power in placing the logos of household names that you’ve worked with on your website. As soon as potential customers see the calibre of client you have (or businesses you work with), it adds to your businesses’ credibility.

The simplest way to incorporate this into your website is to have a ‘Client’s we work with’ section on your website, which proudly displays those impressive logos.

But I don’t have any well known businesses as clients…

If you don’t have any well-known clients, ask yourself if there are any other connections with well-known businesses that your business has. Some enterprising businesses have negotiated discounted products and services from other, well-known businesses and then been able to say that they’ve partnered with them – adding to their own credibility. What can you do?

Type 4: Case Studies

Humans by default are very receptive to stories. Case Studies harness this innate trait and allows you the opportunity to show how you’ve positively affected someone else who has used your product or service. By discussing this in a story form, your potential customers are much clearer on what you do and the potential outcomes of using your product/ service which in turn leads to a better conversion rate.

Top tip for making case studies more effective – make sure you use real data and try and publish case studies that highlight difference aspects of your product/ service so that people can understand each of them. Try and highlight the outcomes too, rather than the process as this is what people are really after.

Type 5: Social Media Popularity

If you’ve created some content that is seen to be popular on social media – it insinuates that other’s are telling their friends and colleagues about what you’re offering. It’s a microcosm of the world we live in today – where we all want to create the next viral video or content as it will help us get more widely known.

By adding social share buttons to your pages and posts, you are helping facilitate people sharing your information, and once you get to a reasonable number of shares you should definitely amend your social share buttons to show the share count. This self-perpetuates future sharing as people come to the site and see that this post is seemingly being shared by everybody – so they want to follow suit. Make sure though that you don’t add the count in until you get to a significant number of shares as that could actually hurt the popularity and engagement rates of your post/content.

6: Media Mentions

If you’ve been mentioned positively in the media, it’s important to shout about it! The media publishes stories it feels are important to the public, so it’s almost as if they are vouching for your importance by publishing something about you. So you need to utilize that as much as possible!

Blog about it, put it in people’s faces and use it as evidence that your company really does do what it claims to. This will help make a customer out of your readers.

By media, we don’t just mean the press or TV media, but also blogs and mentions from other people – particularly industry leaders if you can get them. As soon as other people are talking about you and your message, that’s the best kind of advertising you could hope for.

Summary – Why is social proof so important?

When people recommend your product/service it says something for your business. Having happy customers vouching for your business helps to persuade others who were perhaps on the fence, that the outcomes they can expect from your product/service are as good as (if not better) than they were hoping for.

Adding the logos of your ‘partners’ business’ to your website helps to add credibility and again, persuade people to give your business a shot.

It’s one of the simplest ways to improve your online reputation and improve conversion rates through your website.