Social Proof: Here’s How it Works

When people shop online, they often turn to reviews to make an informed buying decision. It’s rare for someone to purchase a product with zero ratings than one with several buyer reviews. Why? Because of social proof.

Humans are social creatures, and we have this innate desire to fit in with the rest of the crowd.
We may not know it, but we exhibit such characteristics when making online purchases. We look for product ratings, customer feedback, and other information to ensure the item meets our needs and expectations.

Brands that know how to leverage social proof can unlock potential sales and position their products in the best place to succeed. This article will discuss the basics of social proof, how it works, and a couple of examples to show you how effective it is at driving business growth.

What is social proof?

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon wherein a person (or a group of people) relies on information from other people to make a correct choice. In e-commerce, buyers display this behavior whenever they encounter a product for the first time. Aside from reading the product description, a person will quickly go through the ratings to learn about other people’s experiences with the item.

Interestingly, around 61% of consumers read online reviews before deciding on a product. That means product ratings can influence more than half of the buyers in the e-commerce space. If most of the reviews are positive, the buyer will assume that the product/service is worth their hard-earned money.

For example, say you’re browsing a website and find a pair of headphones with glowing reviews. You read the customer feedback, and most of them agree that the headphones have superb sound quality. You’ll likely think the product is great for audiophiles like yourself, so you proceed to check out the item without a second thought.

Such a scenario is an example of social proof in action. See how powerful it is in convincing customers to buy your product? When used correctly, you can generate more sales for your product and make it more appealing for first-time buyers to engage with your brand.

Why is social proof important for your business?

As competition in the e-commerce space increases, brands search for ways to gain an advantage over their competitors. Social proof is one way to separate yourself from the rest and give consumers a reason to choose you. Here are a couple of reasons why social proof is important for your business:

1. Lowers barriers for customers when buying online

SMEs and newly established companies know how difficult it is to sell a new product/service to their target audience. The sales barrier is high because you don’t have the sales numbers and the customer reviews to back up your offerings. That’s where social proof comes in. With a successful product launch and a well-planned marketing strategy, you can generate sales and product ratings for your items, which you can then use to lower the sales barrier and convince people to buy your products.

Social proof taps into the basic human instinct of following other people’s actions, thus making your products more appealing in the eyes of your target audience.

2. Conveys trust in your customers

Trust is a key factor when selling products online. After all, the shopping experience is entirely different online compared to a physical store. Customers rely on various information like the accuracy of the product listing, the quality of the images, and the feedback that customers leave before they purchase.

When you use social proof, you create a sense of trust between you and your target audience. Knowing that you have dozens of satisfied customers is often enough to influence buyers to feel confident about their purchase. Not only that, but you can also nurture that newfound trust to turn customers into regular patrons.

3. Signify your expertise in a particular field

A service-oriented company will benefit greatly from social proof as it allows them to display their knowledge and expertise. Testimonials from satisfied clients give your company an edge, implying that you’re an expert in a particular field. From a client perspective, it makes sense to go with a company that’s proven in what they do, as it gives them a feeling of reassurance right from the start.

How to use social proof in your business

There are plenty of ways you can use social proof in your business. Here are five steps on how you can implement it to full effect:

1. Share customer reviews on social media

The power of social media cannot be understated, especially in this digital era that we live in today. Thus, it makes perfect sense to post reviews on social media as part of your social proof strategy. Your audience will get a better idea of how other people feel about your products/services, thus helping them make informed buying decisions.

Hootsuite Social Proof
Hootsuite is an excellent tool for managing and showcasing customer reviews on your social media pages.

To help simplify the process, you can utilize various tools like Hootsuite or Buffer. These tools make it easy to manage your social media handles and automate sharing reviews on your pages. You also gain access to in-depth analytics and real-time results to optimize your social proof strategy.

2. Share your work with big-name brands

If your business collaborates with well-known brands, you can showcase that on your website to draw your audience’s attention. Perhaps you’ve seen other websites with a ‘Used By’ section on the bottom of their homepage to display which companies use their products/services. That is a form of social proof, and it indicates that your offerings are good enough for big-name brands to try them out.

Biteable Social Proof
Biteable uses third-party recommendations to create trust with its target audience.

Biteable, one of the biggest video creation tools online, proudly displays logos of companies that use their services. Naturally, customers will gravitate towards Biteable instead of their competitors because other companies think their video creation tool is sufficient for their needs.

3. Post user-generated content (UGC) on your website

User-generated content is any form of media that users create on social media. It can be anything from photos, videos, and text. The great thing about user-generated content is the authenticity of people who support your brand. You can share other people’s content on your social media pages, specifically Instagram, as a form of social proof.

A great example of this is Aerie, a well-known lifestyle retailer. They share photos of their audience on their Instagram account to promote their products and generate brand interest. UGC effectively gains consumer trust because seeing content from real customers boosts your brand’s credibility.

Aerie Social Proof
Sharing user-generated content on your social media handles gives your brand an authentic feel.

You can do this on other social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok. Encourage users to be featured on your pages by creating a hashtag and placing it on your bio.

4. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is similar to user-generated content but takes it a step further. You often see big brands like Nike or Adidas partner with big-name athletes to promote their products, and that’s because people love buying whatever their favorite athletes wear. The same applies to small and medium-sized enterprises that partner with macro and micro-influencers.

Influencer Marketing Social Proof
Working with influencers can lead to incredible gains in brand awareness.

Nike’s recent collaboration with French fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus is one example of influencer marketing done right. The goal of the collab is to highlight women’s athletic wear by combining Jacquemus’ vintage inspiration with Nike’s performance wear.

5. Show off awards and accolades

Being recognized for your excellence is something that most customers take seriously. Rankings, awards, and accolades let people know that your business is at the top of your industry, thus solidifying your brand image. If you receive awards from third-party organizations, you can proudly display them on your homepage for site visitors to see.

Sprout Social Social Proof
Proudly display your awards and accolades so that customers are aware of your brand’s excellence.

Look at how Sprout Social showcases its multiple awards on its website. They received awards from TrustRadius as one of the top-rated software in 2022, which puts them ahead of their competitors.





Social proof is a powerful tool to build trust with your consumers and establish yourself as a major player in your industry. There are many different types of social proof, and knowing how to use them can make a huge impact in lowering barriers to online purchases.

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