Picture this. You're planning your summer holiday and browsing through hundreds of options for hotels or villas. You manage to narrow it down to two potential accommodations but one option stands out with excellent reviews from previous guests, while the other has no reviews.

Which accommodation would you feel more confident booking? You'd likely opt for the one with excellent reviews as you want reassurance from other guests' experiences. This motivation is driven by the behavioural concept called social proof where people tend to conform to the actions or opinions of others when they are uncertain about what to do.

In this blog, we'll delve into how brands can drive more revenue by leveraging social proofing techniques to supercharge their digital marketing strategy.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is a human behaviour concept where if we see others doing something, we're more likely to follow suit, especially when we're unsure about what to do. We conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behaviour.  

Think about seeing a long line outside a restaurant and deciding to join it because you assume the food must be good. In marketing, businesses can leverage social proof to help build trust and credibility, driving consumer engagement and conversions through methods such as testimonials, reviews and user-generated content. A Power Review Survey reported that 45% of consumers won’t purchase a product if there are no reviews available for it. In the buying process, trust is one of the key ingredients, that’s why understanding your audience is essential.


How Brands are Utilising Social Proofing in Digital Marketing

Social proof comes in many varieties and has different strategic goals, let’s dive into some examples:

  • Scarcity Notifications
  • Customer Reviews
  • Awards and Recognitions
  • Case Studies
  • User Generated Content
  • Celebrity/ Influencer Endorsements
  • Using Statistics 
  • People Also Bought


Scarcity Notifications

Similar to the social media phenomenon FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), the ‘scarcity effect’ is a human behaviour principle that suggests people tend to assign a higher value to items or opportunities that are perceived as limited in supply or popular.

Known for their womenswear, fast Fashion Giant Pretty Little Thing releases hundreds of new items per day into their catalogue of over 20,000 items that are built on short-cycle collections. To help shift stock at such masses
PLT utilises the scarcity principle by using social proof notifications to create a sense of urgency among shoppers. Through live data pop-ups on their website and app, they highlight popular items with high views or indicate how many people have already purchased them today. The live data feature creates a herd mentality by showcasing real-time updates, validating customers for joining others who found the item great and worthy of purchasing.
By using terms like "popular," "selling out," "purchased," and "trending," they encourage customers to buy sought-after products while also building trust in the store's credibility. 



Customer Reviews

Another form of social proof is customer reviews, they are a great way to offer potential customers an easy and quick way to learn about others' experiences with your products or services. Research from Trustpilot shows that 92% of customers read reviews before making a purchase which means placing reviews prominently in your marketing funnel guides buyers toward conversion and fosters brand loyalty.

Brands such as Bloom & Wild integrate widgets on product pages with clear dates to reassure customers that the information is up to date and reflects the current quality of the product or service.


Airbnb displays real customer profiles and locations on their reviews to help humanise the feedback to verify the legitimacy of the review and validate that it wasn’t fabricated or manipulated by the brand. 


More recently, studies have shown that Gen Z are now conducting their own research for product reviews on channels such as TikTok. HiSmile is a teeth-whitening brand that has become a social media sensation, making the brand a favourite among influencers and celebrities. But this paid influencer and celebrity endorsement has led to scepticism amongst users as TikTok demonstrates there are trending searches for topics such as “real reviews” and “honest reviews”. It is important brands utilise user-generated reviews and content to help build authenticity amongst paid advertisements



Awards, Recognitions and Certifications

Awards, certificates and recognitions are very powerful social proofing methods that occur when brands display or demonstrate awards or expert endorsements. For example, the popular toothpaste brand Sensodyne places such an emphasis on professional endorsements from Dentists stating they are the “No.1 dentist recommended toothpaste for sensitive teeth” across the website. This recognition from a group of people with authority and expertise in that field adds value and guide purchasing behaviour.

The beauty industry is a sector that relies heavily on beauty publications awards that rank products of the year. The trending hair care brands Olaplex and K18 signpost their Allure Best of Beauty awards. What makes these awards especially powerful is that they're based on “reader choices”, showcasing the preferences of countless customers. This type of social proofing taps into the principle of social influence, as seeing that many others have favoured these products encourages potential buyers to follow suit - rather than choosing their own winners, they let their readers do it instead, a powerful way to put them in control and build trust. 


Case studies 

Case studies are invaluable tools in digital marketing, providing real-life success stories that build trust and demonstrate external credibility. Quickbooks and Xero are accounting software that utilises long-form testimonials to show tangible real-life examples of how the tool has helped businesses navigate their finances. Case studies tap into the principle of social proof, showing potential clients the service's track record of helping others like them, ultimately influencing decision-making and driving conversions. 


User Generated Content

When customers share photos, videos, or stories showcasing products or services in real-world use, it creates a powerful sense of social proof and is often considered more trustworthy than brand content with a recent study indicating that 43% preferred to see UGC from brands. By sharing UGC in your social media marketing strategy, you're giving your customers a chance to spread the word about your brand. This helps your products or services reach more people through their social networks, boosting your online reputation and building trust along the way as potential customers are more likely to trust the experiences and opinions of their peers over brands.

Department store John Lewis has a dedicated space on their product detail pages for sharing user-generated content of the shown product. It encourages people to participate for the chance of getting featured by tagging their socials or submitting a photo via the website.


Celebrity / Influencer 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 sceptical 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.

When celebrities or mega influencers endorse a brand, it's like a stamp of approval that can sway consumer opinions. With their massive fan base and social media following, they hold considerable influence and activate herd mentality. However, recent claims of influencer fatigue for mega influencers and celebrities indicate that users are becoming more aware of the financial and fame motivations behind endorsed products and seek unbiased sources of information from USG or micro-influencers.

Back in 2022, the teeth whitening brand Hismile released a paid promotion with one of the biggest celebrity influencers Kim Kardashian on their TikTok account gaining 5.1 million views.


Using Statistics

Xero is an accounting software that is well established in utilising social proofing across their B2B digital marketing strategy. A great example is the messaging on the homepage above the fold that showcases that 3.95 million people use their service. When potential customers see that millions of others are already using Xero it provides the social proof of reassurance and validation and influences individuals to perceive it as reliable and effective.


“People Also Bought / Viewed”

Providing "People Who Bought This, Also Bought..." recommendations in digital marketing leverages the psychological principle of conformity or herd mentality. John Lewis utilises product carousels for recommendations as it creates trust by showcasing popular purchases, and guiding customers' decision-making based on others' actions. This approach enhances the customer experience and increases the average basket order value.


Key Takeaways

Including social proofing techniques in your marketing strategy can be a revenue changing. By understanding human behaviour and your potential customers, you can optimise your business as well as the user experience, which will ultimately end in higher conversions. 

To Recap:

  • Scarcity Creates Urgency
  • Customer Reviews Build Trust
  • Awards and Certifications Add Value
  • Case Studies Demonstrate Success
  • User-Generated Content Enhances Trust
  • Influencer Endorsements Influence Opinion
  • Statistics Reinforce Reliability
  • Recommendations Guide Decision-Making

If you’re thinking about elevating your business’ approach with behavioural science, please get in touch - we’d love to support you on your journey! 





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Ellen came to Reflect with a background in social media and ecommerce, but she’s hungry to learn more. While bringing her creativity and drive to our client’s day-to-day activity, Ellen is also gaining insight into all things digital marketing. When she isn’t helping our clients push their marketing to the next level, Ellen is developing her skills and receiving training from experts across the agency.

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