Social proof is the backbone of many purchasing decisions. For customers looking to buy a product or service, it makes a lot of sense to look at what other people are saying about it. Social proof is much more than just doing your research on a product. In fact, social proof affects us everyday.
Humans are pack animals, and as a result we like to know that other people have validated our purchasing decisions. Even when the purchasing decision doesn’t make sense, or we know that the product is worth much less than we are willing to pay for it, social proof can drastically influence how we spend. It’s why luxury designer brands can charge so much – people want what other people have and in some cases the validation from others is worth more than the product itself. The social proof takes on a whole value of its own.
So, what is social proof? And why is it so crucial to your digital product?
Social proof is when the influence of other people boosts purchasing decisions amongst potential customers. The term was coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book Influence. It was one of his six Principles of Persuasion, which included:
In his book social proof is also referred to as conformity, and that is what it is all about. Social proof refers to the validation that is given from peers, that positively impacts consumer behaviour. A classic example of this would be potential customers see the public using a product and raving about how good it is – we see this commonly on social media in the digital world, and it is becoming a crucial component to marketing a digital product.
Another example would be people choosing which restaurant to dine in, opting for the most popular one with the most people inside. The amount of people provides social proof that potential diners are looking for, and will encourage them to make the decision to go inside.
When people see consumers engaging with a product or service in a positive manner, it makes other potential customers see the product as desirable. There are 4 principles of social proof that dictate the conditions, these are:
When people are uncertain, they will use other people’s opinions to inform their decisions. It can be hard to make decisions alone when our human nature is so reliant on information from the rest of our social group. Social proof plays into our innate nature to use information from others, and gives us certainty where there is none.
When we feel we are similar to people, it can make us more inclined to make decisions off the back of their opinions. The logic is that if that person is like me, and I can’t make a decision on this product, then I should just do what they do as they are similar to me.
People want expert guidance when it comes to utilizing new products and services, and the more of an expert in their field the person offering social proof is, the more likely people are to follow their guidance. Social media provides the perfect arena for experts to share content online and become more and more renowned.
Because social proof is all about conformity, the herd mentality wants to see multiple people. The more people believe that a product or service is the best, the better. The actions of the majority are very important. When it comes to social proof, the amount of people who vouch for the product really counts.
Social proof is crucial to almost every sector these days, however this is especially true for digital products. This is because digital products are primarily traded, promoted and purchased online meaning that social proof can be delivered online.
The most obvious way we see digital products being promoted with social proof is via social media. Utilizing influencers and tech thought leaders will help a business promote their digital products and reach their target audience.
With digital products, social proof is also more important due to the fact that they are often innovative and new to the market. In this sense, there will be little known about them and therefore social proof will be more important than ever. As we have seen, when the landscape is uncertain, people rely on social proof more. If a brand can use social proof to promote their digital product, it can help it snowball into popularity.
Social proof delivered digitally can often lead the customer directly to the product’s purchase page. This keeps the entire interaction online and ensures that the purchasing journey is simple and succinct.
Digital products tend to be more innovative, therefore people require more convincing. Social proof is still one of the most effective ways to convert leads, and in unknown markets having other people’s opinions to rely on is very important.
Although the world is digital now, there are still a lot of people who are reluctant to get to grips with new digital products. Social proof allows the trust to build between skeptical potential customers of the brand.
Social proof is so important to digital products with 91% of millennials trusting reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. So how can digital products utilize the power of social proof?
Influencers offer an ideal form of social proof, as they are an online form of endorsement that the whole world can see. Not only do they endorse a digital product but they also have the follower numbers that solidify their position as experts in their field.
A sure fire way to get positive social proof building is to ask reputable newspapers, publications and experts to review the product and comment on it. By showing that the digital product has widespread support from experts, you give people a more authoritative lens through which to view your product.
It’s not all about celebrities, influencers and experts though. Social proof can come via normal everyday users too. In fact, often users can provide some of the most helpful and most believable content. How to guide and honest opinion pieces are a great way to build consumer trust and improve how people view your digital product.
Social proof can also come from certified bodies that prove that your product is up to scratch. With a seal of approval, people are much more likely to trust your product and potentially purchase it.
As an innovation studio, ENO8 provides businesses with the trusted digital product team that they need to succeed. Social proof is one element of a winning digital product launch, however it is often one that businesses forget. If you’d like to work out a digital product strategy for your brand, get in touch today!
Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and co-founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff and his business partner, Rishi Khanna, created ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.
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