The Connection Between Influencer Marketing and Social Proof
If there’s one thing today’s consumers are expecting from brands they interact with online, it is AUTHENTICITY.
Because the digital world allows for so much anonymity and advertisements blend so easily with organic content, people are more skeptical of sales tactics than ever before. In the same way we send a robocall straight to voicemail without blinking, we can easily scroll past an obvious advertisement on Instagram or TikTok.
Though this sounds like bad news for marketers, it should actually be seen as an opportunity to create authentic content and utilize social proof in influencer marketing campaigns.
What is Social Proof?
In psychology, social proof is the phenomenon of people copying the actions of others in order to “blend in.” The effects of this concept are especially powerful in situations where people are unsure of the “appropriate” way to act, and assume others around them know more than they do.
In advertising and marketing, social proof refers to the trustworthiness of consumer-to-consumer content outweighing that of branded advertisements.
What Makes Social Proof Work in Marketing?
Social proof works in advertising because it is directly related to the effects of social influence in group settings. Herd behavior refers to members of a group conforming to the behaviors of each other.
In the digital realm, herd behavior refers to someone making a purchasing decision after someone they trust (even if it’s someone they do not know personally) makes a recommendation of, or demonstrates the use of, a brand or product.
The Types of Social Proof Found in Influencer Marketing?
There are 5 categories of social proof examples in digital marketing, and each of them can be leveraged as content in an influencer marketing program.
1. Friend or Family Recommendations
Close relationships provide some of the strongest social proof. We trust what the people we know more than anyone else recommends because they’ve proven firsthand why they should be trusted. This form of social proof can also be called word-of-mouth marketing. Most micro-influencers fall into this category.
2. Celebrity Endorsements
Celebrities, or mega influencers, provide social proof when they give a brand their endorsement. The large fan base and following of celebrities on social media networks grant them a heavy amount of influence. It’s worth noting that some consumers are skeptical of celebrities and mega influencers, so a brand partnership with someone who falls into this category may not be worth the financial investment if budgets are tight.
3. Buyer Reviews
Product reviews or recommendations from someone who has actually purchased a product and can demonstrate its usefulness are very influential. Today’s consumers might even use TikTok to search for a brand or product and see it in use before making a purchase decision. There are numerous social proof software options to integrate buyer social proof into a website to boost leads and sales.
4. Subject Matter Expertise
This one is pretty straightforward: we trust people who officially know what they’re talking about. Someone is considered a subject matter expert when they work in a particular industry or post content that is all thematically related.
For example, a pediatrician would be a trusted source for toddler product recommendations, and a dermatologist would only recommend skin products they know work well.
5. Crowd Wisdom Decision-Making
Social proof related to crowd wisdom refers to following along with what a group you identify with recommends. If a particular group you are involved with agrees one brand is better than another, you are more likely to choose that same brand when making a buying decision.
For example, if you are involved in a hiking group, and most people use a Hydroflask water bottle, you will probably choose to purchase a Hydroflask bottle over a Yeti brand bottle. This ties back to herd behavior, as mentioned above.
Examples of Social Proof in Digital Advertising Campaigns
These are some of the most compelling ways influencers can demonstrate social proof in advertising campaigns:
- Reviews. Most people spend time reading reviews for online products before they make purchasing decisions. They may search for specific keywords within Amazon reviews, consult with different blogs to see what subject matter experts think of certain products, or scroll through the social media posts of an influencer whose brand tastes they want to copy. Positive reviews and customer testimonials are powerful examples of social proof in digital marketing.
- Search engine results. Search engine optimization and influencer marketing can be combined to create a strategy that both increases your brand awareness and directs buyers to your website. The more “findable” your brand is, the more consumers will believe it to be legitimate. Influencers can write blog content, create YouTube video testimonials, and post on social media about your brand. The higher you show up on Google’s search results, the more clicks to your website you will receive.
- User-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) can include both influencer marketing campaigns and organic content that is shared by real customers. Examples of UGC include tagged photos on Instagram, customer testimonials shared on TikTok, unboxing videos on YouTube, and blog and vlog content shared to your website or to other websites with links to yours.
Top Ways to Use Influencers for Social Proof
In a world where consumers have endless choices, the trustworthiness of a product or service is a make-or-break factor for businesses. Influencers have the ability to sway their dedicated followers and can help establish your offerings as reliable and valuable.
Here are 3 ways to use influencers for social proof:
Product or Service Reviews
You can’t go wrong with influencers sharing honest reviews of what you offer. When an influencer talks about their firsthand experience with your brand, their followers are more likely to trust the endorsement. It’s like getting a thumbs-up from a trusted friend. By teaming up with influencers who share your brand values, you ensure that these reviews come across as authentic and credible.
When it comes to building social proof, nothing beats real-life success stories. Collaborate with influencers to create in-depth case studies that showcase the practical benefits and positive outcomes of using your products or services. Influencers can provide detailed insights, testimonials, and data to show how your stuff makes a real difference in people’s lives. This is a great way to connect with potential customers looking for proof that your offerings are the real deal.
“Influencer whitelisting” means giving influencers a sneak peek of your products or services before they’re officially released. It’s like an exclusive preview, and it creates a buzz. The influencers’ audience gets excited when influencers create content that makes your product or service look unique and desirable. This early partnership generates anticipation and a sense of exclusivity, making it a killer strategy for building social proof and boosting interest in your brand.
How to Incorporate Social Proof in Your Marketing Strategy
The importance of social proof in your marketing strategy should be abundantly clear. To see proof of the effectiveness of influencer marketing, you should compile many forms of digital social proof for your brand.
It may seem overwhelming to figure out where to start, but our digital marketing professionals are here to help. We start by examining your business goals, current reviews and evidence of digital social proof, and influencer marketing potential. From there, we can build a customized campaign package recommendation that is certain to generate legitimate leads or sales.
For more information on how Crimson Park Digital can help increase your digital social proof footprint, schedule an influencer marketing consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is influencer marketing a social proof strategy?
Yes, influencer marketing cultivates social proof by giving brands exposure across the influencer's wide social media umbrella.
What are a few types of social proof?
Social proof can come in several forms. Celebrity social proof is a direct endorsement from a celebrity on their social media profiles. Expert social proof is specifically an industry expert or thought leader who likes your product. And the ideal outcome from these two forms of social proof is called User social proof, which is an accumulation of positive reviews and feedback from happy customers.
How many followers do you need for social proof?
The amount of followers required to show social proof varies depending on the size of your business and target audience. A small local business may just need a few hundred followers on Facebook to prove authority, while a national brand might need several thousand likes and follows across social media.
What is the most effective way to leverage social proof?
There are many ways for brands to leverage their social proof. This includes actions like publishing case studies, showing positive testimonials on their website, and placing accreditations or trust badges on certain pages.