Social proof is a powerful marketing tactic. It’s rooted in the idea that customers are more inclined to buy a product or hire a service when they see that others are doing the same. When Oreo claims it makes “America’s favorite cookie” or McDonald’s posts “billions and billions served” on its signs, that’s social proof in action.
Leveraging social proof elevates the voices of existing customers, changemakers, and celebrities to vouch for the quality of what you provide. And when potential customers weigh their own decision, those endorsements can be the make-or-break factor that convinces them to choose you over someone else. Here’s why social proof is so effective, along with a dozen examples so you can see this marketing tactic at work.
There’s an undeniable bandwagon effect when social proof is in play. It’s a psychological phenomenon, where undecided individuals follow others who’ve already done the work to select their preferred option. There are a number of reasons why social proof can be an incredibly effective marketing tool.
1. It lends authority to your product or service. Instead of you claiming that your company brews the best coffee or offers industry-leading ERP software, social proof makes those claims for you.
2. It builds trust. By seeing that other customers have trusted their time and money to this product or service, potential customers can rest assured that they’re making a great investment, too.
3. It confirms you’re reliable. With a record of doing business with other companies and clients, it signals that you have authority, expertise, and can do what you say you do.
There are many potential benefits to using social proof in your marketing. For all their differences, there’s one common thread between them: Social proof relies on others outside your company to shore up what you’re claiming. Some of the ways to leverage social proof to grow your business include:
User generated content (UGC) is content created by fans and used by the company to showcase a product or service. UGC can take the form of a user-submitted testimonial, a short video, photography, or a product review written on a blog.
Business credentials leverage the results a customer saw with a product or service. This is more than just a simple endorsement of a product — it leverages facts and figures to tell a success story. Examples of business credentials are the number of new customers acquired, trust logos that display the names of well-known customers, and the sales increase the average product or service user can expect.
Case studies go beyond business credentials to tell a story about the product or service and how it improved someone’s business. A case study will go in depth, first explaining a challenge faced by a customer, then describing how the brand’s product or service helped them solve the problem. Case studies are widely regarded to be authoritative and trustworthy.
Testimonials are quotes from users of a product or service that are utilized by a company’s marketing team to signal trust and authority to other customers. These quotes can be gathered and shared in many ways, including reviews on Google Business Profile and authoritative sites like Yelp, product ratings on ecommerce sites, and contributions from social media followers. You can also call or email customers and ask them for a testimonial that you can then place on your site. These testimonials are quite valuable for reputation management as they signal to others that real people have benefited from the product or service in question.
Endorsements are more formal than testimonials. They’re typically the result of a formal arrangement between your company and a respected figure whose audience you want to reach.
There are several types of endorsements that can be utilized as social proof. One such endorsement is a celebrity endorsement, where a well-known figure agrees to be the face of your brand for a campaign or certain period. A great example of a celebrity endorsement is George Clooney for Nespresso.
Another type of endorsement, expert social proof, is when an authority figure or authoritative group in your industry puts their seal of approval on your product or service. An example of expert social proof is the American Dental Association (ADA) applying its Seal of Acceptance to a toothpaste brand.
Social media is an important part of spreading the word about your business, and your company’s profiles on each platform can serve as social proof. That’s because potential customers are increasingly turning to social media to vet businesses. They’re looking for what you post, who follows you, and the number of shares posts get, to name a few examples.
Two important concepts come into play here: wisdom of the crowd and wisdom of your friends. Wisdom of the crowd includes signals that your brand is important, worthwhile, and well-liked, such as a large follower count or lots of positive engagement on a post. Wisdom of your friends refers to the phenomenon when a social media user sees many of their connections liking, following, or interacting with a company.
Earned media is any article or press coverage that wasn’t sponsored. With earned media, a reporter or editorial team independently found the product or service and felt it noteworthy to write about in their publication or on their website. Sharing earned media on your website or social media is a great way to signal trust in your product or service, encourage new customers to check you out, and show that your company is worth talking about.
There’s no right, wrong, or guaranteed way to leverage social proof. The type of social proof that will work best for your company depends on who you’re trying to reach and which of their pain points you’re trying to solve.
That said, there’s a lot of power in a simple testimonial from those who already have been won over by your product or service. In a world where nearly 9 out of 10 purchasers won’t make a move without reading testimonials, testimonials from your customers can go quite a long way.
Here are twelve great examples of different types of social proof and how these famous companies leveraged it to reach new customers.
Business owners have no shortage of platforms to choose from when building the e-commerce portion of their site. Shopify, one of the largest ecommerce platforms, leverages reviews from happy customers to explain to others why their platform is best for millions around the world. Utilizing user testimonials, statistics drawn from their customer base, and information about platform features for small business owners, Shopify pitches to the reader how they stand apart.
On their homepage, Monday, a project management software, turns to their real-life customers to demonstrate their trustworthiness. These business credentials serve as a signal to other companies that their workflow and files can be trusted to Monday. As you scroll, you’ll find logos from some of their most famous customers, testimonials from well-known clients, and case studies that explain how their product helped solve user challenges.
The enterprise management platform turns to video to showcase how their software helps customers succeed. One of the first elements on the homepage is a series of video testimonials from household names like AstraZeneca and Carmax. These videos are structured like case studies, posing the challenge of managing a large organization and introducing Workday as the solution.
The spelling and grammar checking tool utilizes testimonials to show why they’re a trusted resource for professionals in all types of office settings. On the homepage, a testimonial follows a list of business applications Grammarly can connect to, including those that don’t typically have spell checker tools.
Vegan egg substitutes like Just Egg are used by folks for many reasons, from dietary restrictions to egg allergies to adhering to a vegan lifestyle. But one of the things that sets Just Egg apart is its use of celebrity endorsements to lend credence to the product’s taste and quality. The brand tapped tennis superstar Serena Williams, who follows a plant-based diet while training, and actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who has been public about his transition to a mostly plant-based diet, to promote their products.
The social media platform is taking the world by storm, which has earned them quite a bit of press coverage. Without taking out paid advertising, TikTok racked up significant earned media from reputable publications around the globe. This helped raise the platform’s profile, educating millions of would-be users and thousands of businesses on its potential.
The vitamins manufacturer leverages expert social proof as a stamp of approval that its products are authentic and contain what they say is in them. To that end, Nature Made places prominent expert social proof on its homepage. First, the company has USP certification, which guarantees the supplements contain what’s on the label. Another expert social proof indicates that the brand is highly recommended by experts, with a “#1 pharmacist recommended” badge alongside the USP certification.
As a social media management platform, Hootsuite understands the power of social proof. To that effect, the company puts several methods of social proof to work on its homepage. First, they showcase facts and figures to demonstrate the importance of their product and the role Hootsuite plays in the daily life of social media managers. Then, they move into testimonials from customers. They wrap up their social proof with case studies from customers who used Hootsuite to grow their social media presence and make daily management easier.
This brand of rolls, bread, and buns has partnered with Guy Fieri since 2021. The iconic Food Network star, who maintains a TV empire centered around accessible food made great, lends his celebrity chef credentials to this product in commercials and other forms of advertising.
The grocery delivery service, focused on reducing food waste, uses testimonials from everyday customers as social proof. The three featured testimonials on their homepage focus on the company’s mission while highlighting the healthy foods in the box and the ease and convenience of the service. By leveraging these testimonials, Imperfect Foods has a powerful way to prove that many others are participating — and enjoying — what they have to offer.
The language-learning platform guides users through lessons on vocabulary and culture to build a working, practical knowledge of speaking in a new tongue. Leaning on the many five-star reviews the platform has received, Babbel selects a number of them to highlight various reasons why customers choose them over competitors, including how fun the lessons are and the unique scenarios the platform provides to help new vocabulary stick.
When introducing a new kind of product into the market, customers are inclined to ask how it works, and most importantly, if it works. Ruggable, which makes a line of two-piece, interchangeable, washable rugs, utilizes testimonials pulled from social media to show others that there are customers enthusiastically embracing the brand. This provides a sense of trust to curious folks, and could very well play a role in converting them to customers.
Whether adding testimonials and trust logos to your website with Namecheap Site Maker, creating a case study with your biggest client, or thinking big with a celebrity endorsement, social proof makes a significant impact when wooing and winning new customers. And with so many ways to engage with this powerful marketing tactic, there’s an idea out there for every business. All it takes is a great product or stellar service — your fans do the rest!