Leveraging Social Proof With Video Marketing

Why should someone choose your company and leave your competitor behind? For many customers, the answer comes down to a simple vote. 

How many other people have bought from you? And what did those people think of the experience?

Build a marketing campaign based on social proof, and your current customers will sell to buyers who are on the fence. Video makes gathering and distributing effective social proof content really easy. 

What Is Social Proof? 

Social proof is a psychological term that involves using the behaviors or opinions of others to guide our own behaviors or opinions. 

Social proof is typically used to help someone make a decision. It assumes that others know more than we do or have more experience than we do, and listening to them can save us time while we make the right choice. 

Experts typically define social proof with a restaurant analogy. Imagine standing in front of two restaurants that serve similar types of food. One has tables packed with patrons, and the other has no diners at all. Most discerning diners would choose the crowded option, as so many others have made that choice. 

Social proof examples are plentiful online too. You've seen them on:

  • Shopping sites. Anytime you've read reviews from past customers on eBay or Amazon, you've experienced social proof.
  • Landing pages. A tiny photo sits next to comments from a prior purchaser. These reviews lend credence to your claims about your product or company.
  • Social media sites. A post from a company you know gets hundreds of reactions. A post from a competitor gets just a handful. Votes like this can help a company seem popular or important. 

Content created by marketing teams is promotional, and it comes with some concerns about bias. 

Social proof content is typically created by customers, not experts. And potential customers may find it more compelling than anything you could dream up in a marketing meeting. 

What Types of Proof Work? 

Your customers could talk about almost anything when creating social proof content. They could discuss their commute to your location, their personal relationship with an employee, or the color of your building.

All of it is social proof. But it's rarely the type of content that inspires people to take action. 

Effective social proof revolves around:

  • Product reviews. A real-life customer describes the purchase process from start to finish. Or someone shares stories about how your product is used in everyday life.
  • Testimonials. A customer describes the responsiveness of your customer service team. Or someone describes how your product has reduced costs and enhanced efficiencies.
  • Personal benefits. A customer homes in on one part of your company's product or service. That person describes how this hidden element makes all the difference in the world.
  • Case studies. Officials from a company band together to describe how the organization benefits from a relationship with you. You tell a story here describing the problem, your solution, and the resolution. 

Each approach is different, but they all involve real people discussing how your company changed them in some meaningful way. The stories are personal, but your company is the focus of the narrative. 

Imagine that you run a professional association for dog groomers. Now contrast these two approaches:

  • Effective: "Joining the National Dog Groomers Association of America changed my career. I got my certification, and when it was completed, I had twice as many job offers as I had before I got started. I couldn't have done it without my membership."
  • Ineffective: "I joined the National Dog Groomers Association of America, and at my first conference, I ran into a man selling clippers I've never tried before. I took them home and used them on a few clients, and while I guess they were okay, I don't think they were right for me. I often work on tiny dogs, and these are just really big."

It's clear that our ideal social proof example has the potential to sway a customer, but the second lacks that power.

How to Make Your Social Proof Persuasive 

Social proof should be clear, straightforward, and to the point. But what else can you do to ensure that your content will help to entice a purchase?

The best social proof campaigns start with planning. Think about:

  • Buyer personas. Describe your ideal customer, and think hard about what motivates that person to make a purchase. Where does that person live, work, and play? Then, dig through your client list for speakers who match that persona exactly.

We're compelled by social proof statements made by people just like us. The closer the match, the more effective the message.

  • Speaker expertise. Social proof campaigns work best when the person speaking has at least the same knowledge (if not more) than the intended audience.

If you're planning a campaign for doctors, for example, don't ask radiation technicians to speak for you. Look for peers or supervisors when you can.

  • Truthfulness. Social proof isn't always positive. People have used this technique to encourage people to make poor or antisocial choices. Think about gaining repeat customers, not one-off purchasers.

Always tell the truth about who you are, what you do, and how the process works. 

In a perfect world, you'll have dozens or even hundreds of comments to choose from. That way, you can select the messaging and speaker that matches your goals.

How Does Video Help Social Proof? 

Plenty of forms of written social proof exist. We read reviews, check out the number of likes, and otherwise take in numbers and words to form an opinion. Video is different.

Effective video campaigns work like conversations between an experienced speaker and a curious buyer. They are a passive form of communication that requires no reading or interpretation. But the speaker can make eye contact, use forceful gestures, and otherwise allow nonverbal communication to aid understanding. 

Experts say user-generated videos are an important form of social proof. Video testimonials published on YouTube helped one company experience a 3x conversion rate when compared to organic methods. 

At Gather Voices, we make gathering and distributing user-generated content really easy. Your customers only need a smartphone and a stable internet connection to aid your company in reaching hundreds of potential customers. It's one of the quickest and most effective ways to get a social proof campaign off the ground.

References

Social Proof. Interaction Design Foundation. 

How to Use Social Proof in Your Marketing. (April 2019). Social Media Examiner. 

Social Proof: If Everyone Likes It, So Will You. (December 2019). Medium. 

Social Proof Is the New Marketing. (November 2011). Tech Crunch. 

7 Things You Must Understand When Leveraging Social Proof In Your Marketing Efforts. Neil Patel.

Social Proof: Your Most Influential Marketing Asset and How to Use It. (April 2019). Shopify Blog.

20 Examples of Social Proof in Action in 2020. (December 2019). Hubspot.

Social Proof: What It Is, How to Use It in eCommerce. (November 2019). Medium.

The Customer API: Connecting With Customers In A Contactless Economy. (September 2020). Forbes.

What Is the Social Proof Theory? The Psychology Notes HQ. 

Social Proof: Why We Look to Others for What We Should Think and Do. Farnam Street.

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