Modern consumers crave authenticity, and nothing is more authentic than their own voice.
As customers research and shop, they are also interested to learn what other customers like them think of the brands and products they're interested in, whether through user-generated content (UGC), ratings and reviews, influencers, and sometimes, other brands they follow.
That’s why modern brands have learned to utilize social proof across their marketing strategies. Brands like Radio Flyer have used UGC to increase average order value by 12% and boost time on their website by 85% by extending social proof beyond just social channels. The brand would inspire shoppers with current customer photos and videos, which saw a 7x increase in conversation.
This surge in business success starts with trust, and the use of social proof to establish it is more important now than ever for your brand. Let’s explore how to collect and deploy social proof within your marketing strategy.
What is social proof?
Humans have been doing this for a very long time. We tend to validate our choices through the lens of our community or, even more simply, those around us.
This is why social proof is not necessarily a complicated – or even social media-specific – concept. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to do what others are doing because they think it's the right or popular choice.
You can understand the implications of this in the era of social media. We all surf and scroll daily to discover news, connections, and products that we’re interested in and that our communities are interested in sharing. This why hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt – and its billions of views – have exploded in popularity. We all want social proof for our decisions. In today’s world, it’s just a few clicks away.
In the context of social media and social commerce, social proof can manifest in various ways, including through likes, shares, comments, testimonials, reviews, influencer endorsements, and UGC. Each social content type supports authentic experiences for people trying to make a purchase decision.
And for the modern consumer, 87% consider user reviews to be the most authentic interaction they have with brands. According to a study by Spiegel Research Center, customers who interacted with verified reviews had a 15% higher likelihood of purchase than anonymous ones.
That means your marketing must feature social proof from real people because they can make the case for you, connect more easily with other shoppers, build trust, and drive sales in the new digital landscape.
How to get started with social proof across your customer journey
Here’s how to start so you can manage and maximize social proof within your eCommerce strategy:
Whatever form of social proof you utilize, authenticity is key. Consumers can typically discern between genuine endorsements and forced or fabricated ones. Always prioritize genuine relationships and feedback over mere optics.
Encourage ratings and reviews
Actively solicit customer reviews on platforms relevant to your business, such as Google, Amazon, or with a review platform. Ensure the review process is as simple and accessible as possible for your customers.
Collect and deploy UGC
Encourage your audience to share photos, videos, or experiences with your products. Repost and celebrate this content — with the owner’s permission – on your official channels, which not only serves as social proof, but also strengthens community ties. The benefit of UGC is that it increases engagement for your social media teams while driving revenue as social proof for eCommerce.
Collaborate with influencers
Partner with authentic influencers who resonate with your brand values. Their endorsements can reach audiences that trust their opinions, providing powerful social proof, and micro-influencers serve as a trustworthy entry point into communities in which your brand would belong.
Address negative feedback
No brand is immune from occasional negative reviews. Address them promptly, professionally, and constructively. Showing that you care about your customers' experiences can turn a potential negative into a demonstration of your brand's integrity.
Awards, recognitions, certifications, and even notable collaborations can act as social proof. Display these badges of honor on your website and marketing materials.
Leverage social media metrics
While numbers shouldn't be the sole focus, a robust social media following or high engagement rates can serve as social proof. They signify community trust and interest in your brand.
Promote real-time interactions
Feature real-time reviews, mentions, or interactions on your website or during live events. This dynamic form of social proof can be particularly compelling. This is also a place to try one-to-one live video, as the real-time nature can serve to allow direct access to interested shoppers and deliver authentic interactions with your brand.
Incorporating social proof across your marketing funnel isn't a one-time task but an ongoing effort. As consumer behaviors evolve and new platforms emerge, continuously evaluate and adjust your strategy. With authentic engagement and an ear to the ground, social proof can become one of your brand's most potent marketing tools across the entire customer journey.
How to select a platform to collect, manage, and deploy social proof
Your social media, eCommerce, and customer care teams must work hand-in-hand to identify content, deploy it, and measure across your buyer’s journey. Where should your brand begin?
Harnessing the power of social proof isn't just about strategy. It's also about utilizing the right tools and technologies. Sourcing social proof without them can be a significant challenge, as searching, sorting, and reviewing things like UGC can be immensely time-consuming for brands with gigantic social communities.
These platforms not only streamline those processes, but they make sure the fire hose is flowing with the right content to the right audience.
Unified analytics platforms
Linking data points from separate sources can feel impossible. Unified analytics solutions solve this problem as an integrated solution that brings together data from various sources. Whether it's tracking engagement on your social media posts, analyzing the effectiveness of user-generated content, or monitoring the impact of influencer partnerships, a unified analytics platform gives you the insights you need to optimize your strategies in real-time.
These tools gather customer reviews from multiple sources and present them in a digestible format. They can be integrated into your eCommerce site, ensuring that potential customers see real-time, genuine reviews from peers.
UGC collection platforms
Encouraging, collecting, and leveraging UGC can be a daunting task, which is why these platforms streamline the process, allowing you to curate, moderate, and display UGC across your digital channels. These providers typically manage critical steps, like approvals, to make sure the customer approves the use of their own voice. The permission aspect is key because for authentic content to maintain its authenticity, the person sharing it must feel comfortable with the use case. UGC collection platforms simplify this to make sure both side benefit from the share.
Influencer collaboration tools
As influencer partnerships become increasingly vital for brand authenticity, these tools can help brands find, collaborate with, and measure the impact of influencer campaigns. The best platforms will also help you align strategy with audience and understand what type of influencer works best for your brand.
Social listening platforms
To understand the broader conversation around your brand, products, or industry, social listening allows your brands to review real-time insights and conversations into what's being said online.
Get started with social proof with your marketing strategy
It’s time to decide how to build social proof into your marketing strategy. That means finding a way to collect, approve, deploy, and measure the impact of social proof as part of your social media, digital, and customer experience.
A customer engagement platform like Emplifi makes the entire process of social proof more manageable — and more measurable with unified analytics. With an all-in-one solution, you’ll be able to amplify the right brand experience at every touchpoint.
If you’re not sure where to begin, we can walk you through a product demo that highlights how each type of social proof works within our all-in-one platform.