“I’ll Have What She’s Having” - How Are Companies Using Social Proof?

Ever seen people queuing for or surrounding something, then joined in whether you know what they’re queuing for or not? Because if that many people want something it can’t be bad, right? This is Social Proof at its finest. We assume something about a product based on the actions of other people.

In 2011 TechCrunch came up with 5 forms of Social Proof: ExpertCelebrity, User, Wisdom of Crowds and Peers. However, this research is now 7 years old. Marketing has to quickly change and adapt to meet the needs of its consumers; if it doesn't adapt, customers will lose interest. In order to satisfy this change in marketing, Fresh Relevance has produced a new and improved version of TechCrunch's 5 forms of Social Proof, with examples of Social Proof being used in emails and on web pages. 

1. Expert Social Proof

When we purchase something we generally want approval from credible experts in the relevant field before finalizing our decision on whether to buy or not. One example of this is when products have a "Tried and Tested" certificate. This comes from the assumption that if someone who knows what they're talking about recommends a product, it must be the right choice.

There are plenty of examples of this, including when companies display awards their products have won (e.g. Mother&Baby, Good Housekeeping and Hubspot Certifications). Other examples include proving your products are suitable for some shoppers (e.g. gluten free or were not harmful to the environment to process) or even using customer feedback trust badges, such as Hygiene Ratings or Trip Advisor reviews.

Expert Social proof Examples

2. Celebrity Social Proof

Everyone wants what celebrities have, right? Any products used by celebrities are bound to get more attention, hence the massive rise in celebrity endorsements - especially on social media platforms such as Instagram.

Unpaid Endorsements - Fashion retailer QUIZ successfully uses Celebrities as Social Proof by finding similar (or sometimes even the same) outfits worn by celebrities. They incorporate this Social Proof into ads campaigns, emails and on their website. In the email below, QUIZ show how you can dress like a celebrity. Brands can search and buy images of celebrities from various sites including Getty images.

QUIZ example of social proof

Paid Endorsements - The Calvin Klein “#mycalvins” campaign was endorsed by the likes of Kendall Jenner (who received over 2 million likes on some photos) and Justin Bieber across Instagram and gained massive amounts of attention. The American fashion brand debuted the campaign in early 2014 to promote its underwear, and there are now well over 476,000 photos with the hashtag #mycalvins on Instagram alone.

Other celebrity endorsements include "Flat Tummy Tea" which has been endorsed by most of the Kardashian/Jenner clan. Kylie Jenner's "Boomerang" video post on her Instagram has well over 6M views.

Kylie Jenner Celebrity Endorsement - Flat Tummy Tea

3. User Social Proof

Reviews are one of the most successful forms of Social Proof - Just look at online retailers like Amazon; the products which have the best reviews and ratings always perform the best. Shoppers love getting approval from like-minded shoppers.

Cottages.com integrate reviews onto their web pages by displaying them in a popover. Shoppers can clearly see a summary of the reviews, calculating the average score for things such as comfort, location and value for money.

Cottages.com Social Proof Example

With IMDb you not only have the option to leave reviews of films and TV shows, you also have the option to review the reviews by saying if they were helpful or not. So much reviewing!

IMDb Social Proof Example

Hobbycraft successfully incorporates Social Proof into their emails by adding product reviews.

Hobbycraft Social proof example

4. Wisdom of Crowds

Have you ever seen a huge queue for a restaurant you’ve never been to, but joined it anyway, as surely all those people couldn’t be wrong?! This appeals to our sense of FOMO (fear of missing out); when lots of people have and love a product, we want to join them.

Toolstop integrates Social Proof into their emails by showing how many of certain products have been recently purchased.

Facebook uses Social Proof by suggesting pages and articles based on how users’ friends interact with the social media platform. This is based on the assumption that people value the opinions of friends and family more than the opinion of a stranger.

Facebook social proof integration

MandM Direct uses Social Proof in Cart and Browse Abandonment emails, by showing how many people have recently "viewed" the products you are considering. If you're on the fence about making a purchase, but suddenly see "126 views in the last 24 hours" you're far more likely to go through with the purchase. 

MandM Direct Social Proof

5. Peers

As stated previously, customers trust people they know, like family and friends, more than strangers. Foursquare example this extremely well by showing your Facebook friend's reviews of places you are browsing above strangers reviews (although you have to be logged into Foursquare through your Facebook for this to happen).

FourSquare Social Proof

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02/01/2017 Product Info