Social proof or informational social influence is a term that refers to how people adapt their behavior at a specific time to simulate what other people or groups of people do.
In marketing, it is a strategy used to give confidence to potential customers who will imitate their behavior by observing the recommendations and actions of others for a product or service.
There are many types of Social Proof that influence consumers' decisions, among the most used are:
Celebrity social proof happens when a celebrity such as Tom Hanks or Elon Musk, among others, recommends a particular product or service with a Twitter message, Facebook story, etc.
Expert social proof happens when an expert in a specific area suggests using products or services related to a brand.
Happens when a group of people, friends, or a crowd recommend a product or service.
User social proof happens when your website’s users recommend your brand or products, e.g., by writing reviews, positive comments on the website or on social networks, etc.
This type of social proof happens when an authorized body endorses your product or service by giving it a seal of approval.
When people shop in a store they can touch the product, try it out and compare it better, unlike those who shop online.
The former receive little external influence to make a decision. However, a study indicates that at least half of them currently check their mobile device to know others’ opinions before doing so.
On the other hand, in online shopping, it is generally necessary to review external opinions to make a purchase decision, to know if the product or service is of good quality, if it has the right color, size, if it works correctly, etc.
For example, if a person is going to buy lipstick and more than three million people have bought it and liked it, likely, this person will also like it.
In digital marketing, the strategic use of social proofs is crucial to succeeding in campaigns because apart from guiding consumers to buy a product or service, it conveys confidence and credibility to provide their data, which translates into more conversions.
It is one of the largest online retailers in the world and a clear example of the use and influence of Social Proof. When consumers enter the store and review their products, they can see customer reviews, photos, and comments as well as the degree of satisfaction, which serves as a guide for them to make a purchase decision.
The company Wix uses celebrity Heidi Klum in their commercial as proof. This makes people see that Wix is user-friendly for all types of people and gives the brand within the market.
Content and production platform Netflix capitalizes on user trends and recommendations by displaying them on their main screen to make users want to watch more productions or movies.
The use of Social Proof is demonstrated on the social network Facebook. For example, when we use our account, we see that it suggests pages and articles that have interacted with our friends within that platform; this gives trust and endorsement to that content.
Jenny Craig is a diet and weight loss program very popular in the United States; when Kristie Alley used it and lost more than 50 pounds with it, it shot the brand’s image achieving that it was positioned as one of the top three diet programs in that country.
Tracy Anderson is a large health, fitness, and wellness company, known for the popular "The Tracy Anderson Method," is used by many celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Victoria Beckham's, Britney Spears, among others, who use their exercise routine on social networks giving authenticity and credibility to the brand.
Another example of Social Proof is when Kourtney Kardashian uses the product "Manuka Honey" continuously and prolonged in her reality show, making other people want to use it.