The Power of Social Proof and How to Use It in Your Marketing
If it’s good enough for Jessica Simpson, is it good enough for you?
Jessica Simpson is just one of the celebrities who has endorsed the use of Proactiv skincare products. Public figures like Olivia Munn, Julianne Hough, and Alicia Keys have all advocated for Proactiv, some (if not all of them) having experienced the results for themselves.1
The power in endorsements — especially from those whom we consider famous — comes from the idea that whatever they consider worthwhile for themselves would certainly be worthwhile for us. Not only that, but if we want to look like them (or adopt a similar lifestyle), we become much more inclined to use the products they use.
Endorsements, testimonials, and social proof provide a level of comfort to those considering your product. As human beings, we love to belong. Belonging means feeling safe, protected, and connected. It means not feeling alone and at risk. That’s the effect you want to achieve by using social proof in your marketing.
How to Collect and Use Testimonials
Testimonials not only substantiate your claims, but they shorten the vetting process for your potential customer.
We readily trust solutions recommended to us by our family and friends because we know they care about us. If they’ve already taken the time to comb through whether the business is credible — and even benefitted from the product — we’re relieved of the work we would normally have to do to ensure we’re not wasting our time and money.
This is why you want to make an intentional effort to encourage people to refer the product to their family and friends if they like it.
For the most part, potential customers will be seeing strangers’ testimonials for your product, which still plays a substantial role in proving credibility. In addition to providing celebrity endorsements, Proactiv uses before and after pictures from happy customers of all kinds, helping potential customers see the effects of their products.
It’s not popular to talk about your acne or have to look for a special solution, but Proactiv has normalized that experience, to the benefit of their brand and customers.
Your testimonials could be reviews, endorsements, or even case studies. Even if you’re one of the lucky ducks for whom testimonials roll in frequently and unsolicited, you want to be diligent in collecting them.
Ask people to write reviews if they liked your product. Request testimonials from friends, business connections, vocal fans, and satisfied customers. Those who ask shall receive!
Whatever you do, keep this in mind: The words of your customers are always worth more than any message you could put together. Their message is the best possible kind you can have.
If your product is brand new, give samples to beta testers and friends, then ask them for testimonials. This should be a request, not an obligation — and not for compensation. If they aren’t satisfied with your product, that’s a great time to get feedback to make it better. Once you iterate and improve the product, you’ll be able to ask for testimonials in the next round of testing or review.
You don’t have to use many testimonials for them to have a compelling effect. Yes, there is such a thing as too many testimonials. Flood your potential customers with overflowing praise for your product and they’ll simply ignore it. Testimonials are like salt — they bring out the flavor of your offer, but be judicious in sprinkling them about.
How to Demonstrate Social Proof
Providing social proof means showing that others are participating with your business. No one wants to be the first or only person at a party. They need to know that you interact with people just like them all the time. Not only is it safe to get involved, but you might be missing out if you don’t.
Proactiv advertises that it has 20 million customers worldwide, making it the number one acne brand in America. That’s a powerful message of social proof to potential customers.
You can show social proof by quantifying the participation of others, like so:
- Over 2,000 people have already gone through this course.
- We have 400+ people already signed up for this event.
- Nine out of 10 people say that this system has revolutionized the way they work.
- 337 bikers just like you have already hit the trails with a North Star crossover bike.
- 88% of moms say they have been using this laundry detergent for years and don’t plan to switch.
You can also showcase social proof with your imagery. If you host events, you can post candid pictures of the people who attend, especially group shots, on your social media profile or website. But before you do, be sure to ask permission or have people sign a waiver at the event if you plan to use these photos in marketing materials or ads.
When you put together those marketing materials or ads, try to make sure that the imagery you use matches the look and lifestyle of your target market. When featuring people (especially when it comes to stock photos), choose those who look like your avatar (if he or she were real) or those who otherwise have the characteristics of your target market.
This is an edited excerpt from my book Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners, which you can purchase on Amazon.
- Proactiv History. Proactiv History | Dermatologist-Developed Acne Skincare | Proactiv®. https://www.proactiv.com/proactiv-history