Social proof is a big deal among marketers. Imagine a quick and easy way to promote your brand’s products and services without a large marketing budget: that is social proof. It influences your customers to act in a specific manner you want them to, as it draws from what the majority is doing. A big part of what makes it successful is that users do the brand’s marketing for them with a large enough following.
However, it can also work in reverse when misused. A common pitfall to social proof is that it can be used whenever when, in reality, it seldom works that way. Much thought has to be put in before using it for online marketing, and even then, it’s still not polished. Before maximizing social proof’s potential, one must first avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that can hurt the business.
Marketing With Social Proof
Using social proof for marketing is a new tool that has helped many companies jumpstart their business. It’s what also compels people to avail of a product or service, or anything you want them to do. Adding a social proof website could be as simple as “5,000 people shared this” or “25,000+ liked this post.” The point behind this is to show that consumers are not alone when taking action.
And like with any other marketing strategy, it also works best when combined with emotion. Creating a sense of fear of missing out or a sense of urgency further highlights the effects of this marketing strategy to justify that taking action is “necessary.” There are also two sides to it: positive and negative social proof. While both are quite similar as they echo what the majority says, their impact can differ when used in the same context.
All you have to know about positive and negative social proof is this: the positive side works for you; negative side works against you. This fact is a crucial mistake often overlooked by most brands that soon ended up suffering a loss in sales. Read on to see why negative social proof is harmful to your brand.
Stay Away From Negative Social Proof
Social proof tells the reader what the majority is doing to influence a particular action or reaction you want to take. On the other hand, negative social proof sends a different message; it highlights that most are doing the exact opposite of what you want them to do. This kind of proof can easily backfire on you and drive customers away from your business more than you’d think.
No business is perfect, and there will always be negative feedback on your brand, whether you like it or not. However, choosing to emphasize negative reviews or numbers will not sell your brand to your customers and reinforce them to take actions that you don’t want them to take.
How you phrase your brand’s proof in marketing matters, especially to prospective leads. The right message guides readers to the desired action you want them to take. When it comes to using this marketing technique, it also helps to be decisive in your message, making it clear what you want your visitors to do or achieve.
For example, highlighting words like “subscribe,” “follow,” or “donate” can create a sense of urgency within your readers, forcing them to act immediately. However, in the same vein, you should avoid highlighting these words negatively, which can change how people interpret your message.
Social Proof Mistakes
But the challenge does not stop at staying away from negative social proof. Even positive social proof is ineffective when it is not used correctly. How you use it in marketing can make or break how customers see your brand, product, or service. Using it is not as simple as 1, 2, 3, primarily if you aim for brand effectiveness. It would be best to note a few things before you start working on a social proof marketing strategy.
Here’s how to tell if your social proof is hurting your brand image:
1. Low Numbers
Numbers are a compelling reason to avail of products or services. The number of sales, subscribers, or engagements that your marketing campaigns can sway people to your business. However, this phenomenon does not count when these numbers are low. In these cases, it’s better to leave the social proof marketing to the big brands. How you market your numbers is critical, but having good numbers should be your top priority.
When it comes to this situation, holding off on your 100 Facebook Likes is probably a good idea. It would be best to promote your 15 user reviews once they have gained traction among your target market.
2. Excessive use of Proof
For companies starting, the lack of it is typical. The absence of it on your website will undoubtedly affect your business and might be a red flag to potential consumers. However, having too much of it also functions in the same way.
Having lengthy testimonials or wall-of-text reviews might overwhelm your visitors. Social proof that drags on for too long is not compelling to look at, even at a glance. Choosing the most impactful social proof to feature on your website will highlight your brand’s best features.
3. Zero Accountability
What makes it click is that it’s a reference for people to act when they don’t know what to do. However, it’s not a reliable reference when visitors are staring at a faceless profile. When your customers cannot verify that your reviews or testimonials are from real people, it loses its value. It’s a common fact that social proof cannot function without credibility.
You can supplement this by providing pictures, links, or any other evidence to prove that your proof is real. Numbers, statistics, or other internet community pages connected to actual people or verifiable figures will solidify your social proof to attract new customers.
4. Distant Social Proof
The power of proof is undeniable. It has many benefits and is a cost-efficient digital marketing strategy that has worked time and again. First, your social proof must relate to your business and your customer base to make a sale. Typically, people default to social proof when they are unsure of what to do, as it reflects what the majority is doing. But when this is unfamiliar to your target audience, it might as well not be there.
It represents your target market and what they want is more effective than social proof filled with distant, high profile figures that consumers cannot relate to. This information will play a big role in how consumers see your brand and how it looks to prospective customers.
This challenge is usually encountered by businesses that are only starting. The idea behind follower-buying is warranted: you need numbers to prove that you’re an authentic business to generate sales and convert leads. But this investment does not pay off in the long-term, as follower-buying lacks one crucial aspect of social proof, which is “people.”
Social proof derives from the majority’s opinion, which draws from what most people want to do. On the other hand, follower-buying primarily banks on fake accounts to increase following numbers on websites and social media platforms. It’s best to keep in mind that these numbers will never convert to leads, and without organic user engagement, they are only a number on a visitor’s screen. There is no point to flaunt 5,000 followers if you have little to no likes, shares, or engagements on your posts.
6. “Flawless” Reviews
There are two sides to every product review: one that is positive, and one that is negative. Even excellent products have a bad review or two, and that is fine. But when products only have good reviews, then consumers find room for doubt. A survey conducted by Revoo revealed that 95% of consumers doubted products that only had positive reviews.
Furthermore, the same study also reported that 68% of consumers were more likely to trust reviews when there was a balance of opinions. The bottom line? There is no “perfect” product, so a combination of reviews makes for trustworthy social proof-one that customers can rely on.
Leverage Social Proof Better With SocialPOP!
If you have more negative social proof than positive, it might be best to save this marketing strategy later. In marketing your brand, every second counts, so it helps to use social proof once you have established a reliable client following. And it’s not like you have lost anything, so not using it for the meantime is not that big of a deal.
But if you need social proof for your business, it would be best to consult with the experts. At SocialPOP, we’ll help you leverage your social proof better through our social proof notifications. You can rest assured that your social proof gets to your website visitors instantly, without much hassle. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to level up your marketing strategy. Contact us today!