The Impact of Social Proof in Customer Engagement


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Over the past few years, internet marketing has undergone a significant progression. Whereas it was once a disengaged marketing medium, it’s now become a solution for high touch customer engagement. Are you using social proof to enhance engagement and increase conversions?

The Psychology of Social Proof

When customers begin researching a particular product or service, they naturally look to a number of sources. Chief among these sources are friends and peers – whose affirmation and suggestions are considered valuable in the decision making process.

Ultimately, as consumers, our decisions are intrinsically tied to the notion that the actions of others are reflective of correct behavior. So, if we see someone purchase a particular product and they verbally affirm that product, we tend to see value in the same product.

Social proof is not a new phenomenon. It’s existed for centuries in one form or another. However, the internet and social media have certainly heightened the role social proof plays in marketing.

Thanks to an endless stream of conversation, content, studies, and data, nearly 70 percent of consumers now say they look at some form of a product review prior to making a purchase.

4 Social Proof Strategies for Engaging Customers

If you’re involved with customer service, marketing, or advertising, your ears should be perking up. Social proof represents an opportunity to engage and convert prospects into paying customers. However, you must know what you’re doing. Let’s take a look at a handful of social proof strategies and examples of what they look like in practice.

  1. Incorporating Recognizable Logos

One of the more popular strategies right now is to use logos from customers and partners to prove credibility and convey authority. This is why companies often have sections titled “As Featured In” with logos from publications and industry journals where they’ve been published. Others use special pages – such as in this example – where they tout their press coverage.

It’s also why companies like to incorporate logos from their partners, such as in this example where the company’s homepage reads “Military Flight Travel Partners With…” and then features logos of United, Delta, American Airlines, and other major airlines.

  1. Using Customer Testimonials and Reviews

Customer testimonials and reviews are clearly the most widely used forms of social proof in digital marketing because they directly engage customers with unbiased third-party reviews from people who understand their situation. Sometimes a simple quote with an image is enough, but other times it’s necessary to include a very lengthy and detailed testimonial. is the perfect example. On the homepage, Desk pulls out isolated statements from longer reviews and scrolls them across the screen. But they also allow the customer to click the “Learn More” button to read a much more comprehensive review with additional details. It’s the best of both worlds.

  1. Leveraging Social Signals

Does your content get shared a lot? It may be a good idea to incorporate social signals into your blog posts. Social signals are the little buttons that can be installed on website pages that show how many times a particular URL has been shared on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking platforms. When readers see that others are sharing your posts, they subconsciously recognize them as more valuable.

  1. Touting Case Studies

Case studies are great when your audience is skeptical or uninformed. While they are largely associated with B2B industries, it’s becoming increasingly common for B2B companies to drive positive social proof through the use of sponsored case studies. It’s certainly more costly than asking for a casual review or slapping some logos into the homepage, but it’s also highly returning.

Social Proof Best Practices

The specific strategies you choose to pursue will dictate the approaches you take, but the following best practices apply across the board.

  • Stay positive. The whole point of social proof is to remain positive. Even the inclusion of negative words like “never,” “no,” and “overpriced” are enough to turn customers off. Always choose a positive spin.

  • Visualize when possible. A visual is always better than standard text. For example, while a client testimonial is powerful on its own, it’s much more powerful when accompanied by a headshot of the client. 

  • Don’t fake it. No matter what, don’t ever fake social proof. It’s simply not worth the trouble or risk. If anyone ever finds out that you’ve fabricated a review, skewed data, or otherwise lied about something, it will jeopardize all of your marketing efforts moving forward.

If you keep these three tips in mind, you’ll be able to maximize your efforts with very few drawbacks.

Make Social Proof a Priority

There really isn’t much of a question regarding whether you’ll leverage social proof moving forward. Brands that don’t will find it increasingly difficult to be competitive in a marketplace that relies on peer reviews and affirmation. The real question is how will you leverage it? There are a number of distinct strategies – including those referenced here – and you’ll likely find that certain ones are more effective for your customer engagement strategy than others. The sooner you can figure this out, the more successful you’ll be.

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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