Instantly Attract Customers with These 5 Social Proof Techniques

The #1 most powerful selling tool on the planet is a psychological phenomenon called social proof. If you haven’t yet heard of it, now’s the time to read up.

Whether you make widgets or sell ideas, your ability to attract customers will be the single biggest factor of success.  But, hold up. Inspiring consumers to act has more to do with psychology than business.

That’s right. Marketing isn’t all economics and graphs. The most successful strategies are rooted in less tangible concepts – like trust, authenticity, and a desire to belong. But these can be hard commodities to come by on their own, particularly in a marketplace flooded with options and noise. Less than half of consumers say they trust brand advertisements, so tooting one’s own horn just isn’t going to work.

Enter social proof.

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve chosen the most highly rated hotel, the most popular ice cream flavor, or caught yourself looking up at the sky because twenty other people just did, then you have experienced social proof. “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it,” explains Robert Cialdini, psychologist and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. That’s why simply presenting product information is rarely enough to drive conversions. Prospects rely on social cues.

So which techniques have the greatest impact?

Create Contagious Enthusiasm in Social Hubs

The desire to belong is a fundamental human motivation that drives everything we do, writes Entreprenuer contributor Eric Christopher. That’s why fostering an atmosphere where customers feel they are part of a larger community is key. “…When we see other people taking interest in a product or service, we become more motivated to follow the crowd and purchase it ourselves,” Christopher notes.

That’s why many marketers are utilizing social media integrations to communicate brand popularity. By aggregating relevant posts from all the major social media networks, administrators then have the opportunity to build a “best of” reel, curate product-specific content for e-commerce pages, or even display real-time feeds at live events.

Seeing authentic, peer-driven content is exactly what consumers want. 90% of US shoppers say UGC is the most influential part of their purchase decisions, and 92% say they trust earned media (like recommendations from family friends) more than any other form of advertising.

Feature Customer Feedback for Added Trust

One of the most straightforward ways to leverage social proof is through customer reviews. When ordinary people share opinions, we tend to listen because we value the authenticity. Reviews and ratings are helpful indicators of brand popularity, and, fortunately, they are increasingly easy to collect. Nearly three-quarters of US shoppers have submitted UGC about a brand, and they do so primarily because they’re excited to support the companies and causes they care about. This UGC tends to be overwhelming positive, so don’t hesitate to embrace these fans as your brand ambassadors.

The presence of peer content alongside brand messaging not only builds purchasing confidence but also boosts sales. Research shows that shoppers are even willing to pay more and experience slower shipping speeds as long as they can view product UGC!

Let Social Influencers Do The Talking

“The strongest voices are usually the ones that excite the crowd,” writes Marketo blogger Lynnie Lucas. “It’s called the halo effect; if someone reads an article or a post written by someone they love and respect, automatically anything associated with that person is held at a higher regard than it was before.” This is why many legacy brands pay high dollar for celebrity endorsements. But there’s a hot new trend in town, and it’s much more affordable.

Influencer marketing comes in many shapes and sizes. For the best results, Cialdini advises thoughtful selection. “A simple way to make things happen in your direction is to uncover genuine similarities or parallels that exist between you and the person you want to influence, and then raise them to the surface. That increases rapport.” Rapport leads to conversions, and conversions to brand loyalty, and suddenly you have a new influencer in your court.

Related Read: “Nanoinfluencers: When Friends Promote Brands”

Perception Generates Demand, But Use Storytelling To Inspire Action

FOMO isn’t just a punch line. It’s not a new fad either, though social media certainly does make it more convenient to envy all the fun products and experiences others seem to be enjoying. But mere interest doesn’t necessarily beget action.

What engages consumers more fully, Swell CX CEO Drew Sparks says, is the power of story-telling. “When you are able to collect the unique, individual stories of how your product or service helped meet an individual’s needs, you can create emotional connections that better appeal to potential customers…The more personalized these experiences are, the more engaging such reviews will be.”

A great example is how Hyatt Australia used social media to tell how hotel guests felt about the brand’s superior customer service. The #CaretoShare campaign invited both customers and staff members to post thank-you notes on social media, whenever a particularly memorable interaction took place. The full kindness collection was then displayed for all to see – communicating far more about the brand’s story than any travel brochure ever could.

Show Fans You’re Listening

Customers today expect to be acknowledged, and social media is the primary method for young consumers. But don’t expect all the complaints, praises, and opinions to slide in as DMs. Much of the conversation occurs outside of official brand accounts, which means you’ll need a system in place to find it.

Fortunately, social media aggregation engines can be used – not just for public display, but also to search and monitor the most popular networks, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.  Whether you choose to feature posts in your brand’s digital properties or simply compile UGC as a research tool in the dashboard, the opportunity to glean insights and connect with consumers should not be overlooked.

Indeed, the benefits are significant. Millennials – which represent one of the largest demographics in the marketplace – say they are 62% more likely to become loyal customers of a brand that engages with them online. Cialdini is not surprised.

“People give back to you the kind of treatment they’ve received from you,” the psychologist says, so “if you do something first, by giving them an item of value, a piece of information, or a positive attitude, it will all come back to you. The key is to go first.”

For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

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