Social proof examples are everywhere. You’ve experienced it in your own life to some degree:
- Asking for local dining recommendations (“Who makes good sandwiches in that neighborhood?”)
- Inquiring about travel experiences (“How was your hostel stay in Belgium?”)
- Checking Yelp reviews before trying a new business (“How’s the customer service?”)
Social proof is highly effective at stirring up interest and influencing decisions.
Your marketing strategy can leverage social proof to attract customers and boost conversions. We’ll explain what social proof is, how and why it works, and how you can use it in your campaigns.
We’ll also look at real-world examples of how other brands use social proof marketing.
What Is Social Proof?
Dr. Robert Cialdini coined the phrase “social proof” in his 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
It’s the principle that in uncertain situations, people watch and mirror the behavior of those around them.
They conform because they subconsciously believe others know more about the situation. Thus they must know the right thing to do or say.
This is why you joined that long line at the taco truck. And why you bought that pullup bar on Amazon with the 2,480 reviews and 4.6-star rating. And why you finally started watching Stranger Things.
Everyone else was doing it.
Social proof marketing tactics leverage your existing customers to attract new ones.
20+ Examples of (Effective) Social Proof
Here are 22 social proof examples you can use and how other brands currently employ them in real life.
1. Celebrity Endorsements
In 2017, 57% of people aged 16-64 reported discovering brands through celebrity endorsements. In 2021, 59% of Americans over 18 admitted that a celebrity endorsement influenced their purchasing decision.
Celebrity social proof, both organic and paid endorsement, drastically increases brand awareness because they have millions of followers.
Nike, for example, made an endorsement deal with Michael Jordan in 1984 that now earns the company $3M in sales every 5 hours!
2. Expert Endorsements
Cialdini told Harvard Business Review:
“When people are uncertain … they look outside for sources of information that can reduce their uncertainty. The first thing they look to is authority: What do the experts think about this topic?”
An endorsement from an industry expert lends credibility to your brand and helps create brand trust.
Sensodyne’s website and YouTube page feature videos of real dentists explaining how Sensodyne works and endorsing it.
3. User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is any content your customers create. This includes photos, videos, audio, reviews, ratings, comments, or blog posts.
UGC is honest, organic content that increases brand awareness via @mentions or hashtags. Ask your social media followers for permission to use this content in your marketing.
Zapier’s carousel of satisfied customer tweets on its website’s homepage is a good example of this tactic.
4. Influencer Marketing
Influencers consistently create and publish popular web content. They also regularly engage with their social media followers.
They’ve developed a brand around their passion and built a robust, faithful community that shares that passion.
Their community trusts them and relates to them more than celebrities that seem far removed from average life. So they trust their recommendations far more.
Reach out to these “mini-celebrities” to create a paid partnership. BetterHelp has one with YouTubers Super Carlin Brothers, who promote the service in many of their videos.
5. Customer Reviews & Ratings
People regularly check customer reviews and ratings before trying anything new. They want to know how others feel about particular products and services.
In one 2021 survey, nearly 70% of online shoppers checked between one and six online reviews before making a purchase.
Create a listing on an online review site like Yelp or Google Business Profile. You can also put a reviews section on your website and Facebook page. Draw attention to high ratings and to when you get a positive review.
Amazon’s customer review section is a great model for creating your own.
A customer testimonial is slightly different from a customer review.
Customers can leave positive or negative reviews at will, but you must request a testimonial from a satisfied customer. As such, testimonials tend to be very positive.
Also, testimonials hold more sway by their quality rather than by vast quantities like reviews.
A good testimonial should include details and a customer photo to add credibility. Or, even better, you can get a video testimonial.
BuzzSumo devotes a section of its website explicitly to testimonials.
7. Media Coverage Archives
Like expert social proof, media mentions can increase brand trust. Scoring coverage in a well-established, reputable publication powerfully shapes your brand’s reputation.
Mention and link to any earned media on your social platforms and other marketing channels.
You can create a media archive on your website if you earn multiple media mentions. Check out FlexJobs for a great example of this tactic.
Social share count is the number of times your URL has been shared on social media channels.
This is invaluable analytics data because it reveals the level of interest generated. It also builds brand trust and increases brand awareness by encouraging website visitors to share your content.
Use an analytics tool or social share counter to see your social share count as a whole or for each platform.
Live Your Message uses ShareThis to stick the share count and share buttons to the side of each blog post. The brand also displays the total number of comments and shares under each post’s headline.
Certifications showcase your expertise in particular areas. Highlighting them in your marketing strategy establishes you as an industry expert and fosters a sense of trust among potential customers.
The tax professionals at Block Advisors by H&R Block are all Small Business Certified. So the certification badge appears on each one’s photo throughout the site.
The bottom of the website bears the TRUSTe Certified Privacy badge. This indicates that customers can trust Block Advisors with their personal information.
Consumers search for and compare top options when deciding what to buy. Hence all the list posts across the internet that rank everything from vacation destinations to energy drinks.
Emphasizing your high rankings shows potential customers where you stand against the competition. You can display this info on all your marketing channels and materials.
Post Planner doesn’t just say it ranked ahead of the competition. It proves it with a graph and by shouting out the business that did the research, adding extra credibility.
11. In-Line Notifications
In-line notifications are small pop-ups at the bottom of your screen when you visit some websites that notify you of other users’ activity on the site.
They let you know when another user has added an item to their cart, made a purchase, or signed up for something. They may show the actions of many people or one specific individual.
Notifications can draw attention to a product, warn that an item is selling out, or encourage a purchase. TrustPulse employs this user social proof to inform website visitors of new signups.
12. The Wisdom of Crowds
“The Wisdom of Crowds” is a phrase coined by James Surowiecki in his 2005 book. His idea is that a large group of people are better than experts at solving problems and making decisions.
In marketing, it refers to the social influence a large group of people can have on an individual observing that group.
Brands tap into this idea by publishing their large numbers of followers, customers, or subscribers. For instance, Linktree invites website visitors to join its 25M+ users in its Call to Action.
13. Live Conversion Updates
Live conversion updates display increases or decreases in conversions in real time. They show changes in site traffic, reader count, video views, likes, dislikes, shares, or subscribers.
This data reveals both your most and least popular content. It also indicates popular and unpopular days and times of day for website traffic.
Depending on the site plugin, you can display live conversion updates as an ever-changing number, a moving meter, or a live chart.
Forbes uses this user social proof tactic on its homepage to show readership numbers and an ever-fresh list of trending articles.
14. Customer Logos
Brand logos are readily recognizable and draw attention. Displaying your clients’ logos reveals your clients’ specific industry and size.
The recognizable symbols also foster a greater sense of trust.
Reach out to your clients for approval before posting their logos on your site. Otherwise, your usage of them for marketing purposes could constitute trademark infringement.
Check out Quuu Promote’s collage of client logos on its homepage, which creatively displays them twice.
15. Case Studies
A case study is a detailed account of how a brand solved its client’s dilemma.
It introduces the client, explains their former problem, reveals how the client discovered and connected with the brand, details how the problem was solved and highlights how the client benefitted.
To paint a complete picture, you’ll need to compile detailed data on your client and interview them. You’ll also need timeline analytics to show cause and effect.
Zendesk devotes a section of its website to its collection of case studies. You can filter them by Industry, Business Challenge, and Region.
16. The ”About Us” Page
Your “About Us” page gives website visitors a snapshot of who you are as a brand. This page can foster trust, reliability, and relatability, depending on what you include.
You can even incorporate internal to other parts of your website or link to subsidiary sites.
Bark’s “About Us” page keeps it short and snappy but oozes personality. Reading this page gives you a perfect sense of what this brand is all about. It even slips in a few social proofs.
17. Press Releases
A press release is an announcement sent to journalists about a brand’s newsworthy updates.
It includes a summary and all necessary contact info for journalists to reach out for details to help them build their story.
Press releases help foster a positive relationship with journalists reporting on your brand. Plus, displaying past press releases shares a timeline of your brand’s journey and accomplishments over the years.
The video game company Ubisoft catalogs all press releases in its press center. They are filterable by type and date.
Awards and accolades indicate that you have met specific criteria, reached a milestone, achieved a special status, or received acknowledgment.
Highlight your achievements and acknowledge the institution giving you the award. If metrics such as votes, ratings, or traffic won you the accolade, be sure to show appreciation.
Sendinblue highlights its awards on its homepage.
19. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketers promote a brand’s products and services in their web content in exchange for a commission.
Start an affiliate program and reach out to influencers and existing customers to gauge interest in working with you.
Wellness Mama posts recipes for food, home remedies, and DIY health and beauty products on her blog. Her posts contain affiliate links to brands such as Amazon, ButcherBox, and Starwest Botanicals.
Note: The FTC requires an explicit statement when a post contains affiliate links to avoid potential deception. You are responsible for making a reasonable effort to notify and monitor your affiliates in this regard.
20. Referral Programs
Referral programs incentivize existing customers to promote your brand to friends and family.
People trust those closest to them the most for product and service recommendations. Referral programs leverage this fact by offering rewards for referrals.
Typically, the new and existing customers both receive perks in this arrangement. In one such program, Zipcar gives each party a $25 driving credit if the friend signs up through a referral.
21. Instagram Photo Campaigns
Instagram photo campaigns can help achieve a specific marketing goal over a specific timeframe. You can promote a sale or new release, tease a big upcoming announcement, or attract new social media followers.
Use a series of related Reels, photos, or Stories to launch your campaign.
Last year, The Chosen ran a photo campaign promoting nightly watch parties for season one and the upcoming premier of season two.
22. ”Best Sellers” Pages
Drive Best Seller sales with a web page focusing exclusively on those items. This section indicates to site visitors that these products are hot commodities.
Qualify your claim by displaying such proof as reviews, ratings, rankings, and in-line notifications.
Patagonia promotes best-selling apparel as a shopping category and displays star ratings for each item.
Identifying What Tactics Work Best For Your Brand
Social proof tactics are not one-size-fits-all. You’ll need to determine which ones work best for what you offer.
Customer reviews and ratings are vital for driving conversions for luxury brands. They inspire confidence in customers who are considering such a large purchase.
If you provide high-end services, try promoting accolades, rankings, certificates, and expert endorsements. These assure potential customers that they’ll receive quality service from experienced, well-vetted professionals.
Referral programs and UGC generate brand loyalty for local and small business brands. Lifestyle brands leverage “About Me” pages and Instagram campaigns to create a vibe with their tribe.
Meanwhile, celebrity endorsements score massive conversion boosts for corporations selling everyday products like skincare or fast food.
Finally, nearly all products and services benefit from video-based social proof. 88% of consumers have bought a product or service after watching a brand’s video.
Quick Tips For Leveling Up Your Social Proof Game
Here are a few ways to improve the effectiveness of your social proof marketing:
- Place reviews, testimonials, and client logos on both the homepage and the checkout page: Include social proof on the checkout page to reinforce the purchase decision.
- Hand over your social media to a celebrity, influencer, or expert for the day: Build a positive relationship with your guest, expose your brand to a broader audience, and provide fresh content to your existing audience.
- Engage with your audience: Respond to as many comments, DMs, mentions, emails, and reviews as possible.
- Share business milestones: Create a sense of community by sharing victories and milestones. Publicly thank everyone who helped you reach those milestones.
- Encourage customer reviews: Request reviews in social media posts or purchase follow-up emails. Make it easy by adding a comment box and star rating directly in the email.
WARNING: Avoid These Social Proof Potholes
Conversely, you’ll want to avoid the following common social proof pitfalls:
- No customer reviews: A lack of reviews suggests that people either aren’t buying or aren’t enjoying your product or service. So encourage current customers to give reviews, and address any issues noted.
- Low view/conversion count: Never display negative social proof; this can break confidence and drive potential customers away. Improve your numbers first through contests, promotions, and hashtag campaigns.
- Improper use of testimonials: Avoid false advertising by getting testimonials from genuine customers. Ensure all testimonials honestly assess your brand.
- Endorsements outside your niche or misaligned with brand values/image: Only seek endorsements from trustworthy influencers, experts, or celebrities. They should also operate within your niche and match your brand image and values.
Leverage Social Proof Examples & Boost Conversion TODAY
Now that you’ve seen successful real-world social proof examples from other brands, it’s your turn.
Imagine your brand name as the subject of buzz:
- At the water cooler
- At the dinner table
- During phone/text/video conversations
- Across social media
- On podcasts
- In forums and blogs
Increased brand awareness and popularity. Growth in credibility. Soaring conversion numbers.
That’s the path you’re on right now.
Pick a social proof tactic from the above list and add it to your marketing strategy today!