Category: Market research

How to Boost Your Advertising With Social Proof

No matter how great your ad, website, email or TV commercial, if your audience doesn’t believe you, you’ve flushed your advertising spend down the toilet.

Social proof can help create associations with people, groups or institutions of authority, to convince your audience that your product or service is endorsed.

The effect of this is what we often refer to as “instant credibility”, meaning our brains stop questioning and start believing.

The different types of social proof that are most effective in advertising are:

  • Expert Social Proof: When an influencer in your industry approves your product. This can be via different channels including social media, blogging, etc.
  • Celebrity Social Proof: Typically takes the form of a celebrity using a product or service and then promoting it via social media.
  • User Social Proof (or success stories): Positive stories and experiences shared by actual users of your product.
  • “Wisdom of the Crowds” Social Proof: When many people are using a service, others feel more inclined to follow.
  • “Wisdom of your Friends”. Self-explanatory and even more powerful.

You can find a more detailed description and examples in this outline on Hubspot’s blog.

Some of my favorite variations of Expert Social Proof are the ads used by the tobacco industry in the 40’s and 50’s. The goal was to assure a worried public that smoking is safe by incorporating images of physicians in their ads. The message was that if a physician, with all his knowledge and expertise, chooses to smoke a particular brand, then it must be safe.

“More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette”

In his book, Cashvertising Drew Eric Whitman explains how human inertia amplifies the effectiveness of this type of social proof. He describes human inertia as “metaphor for laziness”, which leads people to rationalize without doing their own in-depth research.

The bottom line is that social proof eliminates the requirement of digging deeper – it helps us to justify the decision to purchase a product without further time investment.

Boosting Your Advertising With Social Proof

So much of what was used in the 40’s and 50’s by the large agencies creating cigarette ads is still effective and used in many forms in today’s digital advertising.

Here are some typical forms of social proof you will find on landing pages:

  • Big brand customer logos: If people see several brands they respect it will increase the likelihood of conversion.
  • Short testimonial quotes: You’ve seen these – often under the headline of “what users are saying” these quotes can tip users towards conversion.
  • Video testimonials: The most compelling way to convince users. As explained in my video below these videos, if adjusted for ads, will be the highest converting for retargeting.
  • Media mentions: “As featured in”.

And paid advertising helps us amplify social proof more than ever. Google allows for seller rating extensions, review extensions, customer testimonial video ads, and more.

But before diving deeper into the execution on the advertising side, think about which institution, influencers, industry experts or organizations in your space have a reputation that has the power to reflect positively on your product. How can you build a relationship and make them endorse your product?

Do you have any examples of social proof that you have seen work particularly well in your ads? Feel free to share in the below or shoot me a tweet @reframe_nic