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What is “Social Proof” and why do people in eCommerce rave about it? Sure, you’ve heard a lot of advice about it but do you really use this tool in your eCommerce business? And more importantly: do you know how to use it?
As a person who was lucky enough to be in the Customer Support Manager’s shoes, I can say that not every shop owner/merchant (and mere mortal) knows what social proof is and how to use it.
1. What is Social Proof?
Social proof is evidence that other people have made your product their choice or have encouraged others to do so.
We see social proof not only in the eCommerce universe but in real life as well. I bet you’ve been in a situation where your friend recently watched a movie and couldn’t stop talking it up and recommending that everybody check it out. This is an example of social proof in real life.
We face social proof almost every day, even if we aren’t overtly aware of it.
Below is just one example of how social proof can evolve from a hobby or fun pastime to a respected, full-time role. I’m sure you’re familiar with bloggers/vloggers, the ones who do product reviews or paid endorsements. The same goes for actresses and actors, musical artists, sports stars, political leaders, reality show stars, etc.
Paid or unpaid, celebrities are walking billboards. We pay attention to any product they use or recommend because we give their celebrity status a lot of weight. Any product with a celebrity endorsement is bound to get a lot more attention. And since we love celebrities, this kind of social proof works.
2. Why Merchants Need It?
Brands are eager to land a strong endorsement and if they’ve been endorsed by a star, sales tend to jump.
Ellen Degeneres’s famous Oscar selfie in 2014 is a great example of this. Did you spot the Samsung Galaxy Note that Degeneres pulled out to take a selfie with stars? No? Did you know that particular selfie was estimated to bring a $900 million benefit to Samsung, though the company claimed the photo was unplanned? Either way, it is a blatant example of successful product placement – millions of viewers seeing the Samsung device in action.
Thus, social proof is an effective and economic tool – a clever resource that captures your audience’s interest and helps them decide that your brand is trustworthy.
However, celebrity endorsement can be quite expensive, so if you are not Samsung’s owner but a merchant that has just started their way on Shopify (or already have a growing business) there are several other ways to lend gravitas to your store.
3. How To Use It?
There are people who don’t realize just how many ways of presenting social proof we have. Most people only consider reviews as social proof, but there are more options to convince potential buyers that your products are loved and bought by others. So let’s dive in!
We all know that a wishlist is an essential tool in your store. Yes, it’s intended to reduce shopping cart abandonment and fulfill sales from customers who showed intent but didn’t end up purchasing. But it has a small bonus – the wishlist counter.
This counter shows the number of people that have also added the item to their wishlist. These numbers not only increase buyers’ trust for the brand but also show that these items are sought after, are selling better and getting more reviews.
1193 people liked this dress, shut up and take my money!
At Growave, we say: “Community” is just an official word for “Family”. And it makes sense — community brings together all the brand’s customers. It’s a special place on your site where you can entertain and educate them by providing articles, image and video guides about your products and services.
Not only can you set the tone there, but your customers are also able to open discussions, ask questions and share photos or any other content in the community feed.
Merchants also can’t deny the traffic driving option of the community feed – friend tagging. By letting customers tag their friends to ask questions, share feedback or just to mention them, you will not only improve your website’s social proof but also raise your audience’s interest in your brand. This leads to repeated purchases and creates a sales funnel.
Notifications are a game changer in the social proof sphere. The online stream of what is happening on your site will put your new buyers at ease, build confidence, and encourage them to make a purchase.
Every pop up that tells visitors about products other shoppers have purchased, added to their cart or wishlist, is like a person chatting with others in the line to a famous restaurant (my favorite example of posts about social proof). It creates a sense of social belonging. People naturally gravitate toward things that other people want. Seeing shoppers like them buying things from that store right now, will help them make that main decision – to buy or not to buy.
Notifications can also show what items people are viewing, commenting, reviewing and more which jazzes up your store. The social proof is in the pudding, right?
Questions and Answers
Shopping isn’t easy and e-shopping is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Okay, not never, but questions often arise about details like size, color, or material.
When your site has Questions & Answers widget/option/section visitors can learn more about the product by asking questions or reading questions others have asked. The verified buyers (who have already bought this product) can answer the questions from potential buyers which works as an excellent form of social proof.
If the before-mentioned feature only works as a question from the potential buyer and answer from the merchant, then a comments section allows for whole discussions on product pages and blog pages.
Real people’s profiles, different opinions, and interesting topics create an atmosphere of a live and crowded corner on your website. I would definitely prefer to make a purchase from an active shop than from one that has no signs of life.
UGC stands for User Generated Content and by galleries, I mean photos from your Instagram beautifully displayed on your website. And I’m not talking about those amazing pictures of your products you’ve specially made for your brand’s account. Show your site visitors the real, rough, with #nofilter photos of your goods in their natural habitat.
How do you do that? Create a special hashtag, make sure no one else uses it, and ask your buyers to upload photos with your products in action adding this hashtag. At Growave we pull these pictures from your customers’ accounts and put them on your online store.
You decide where these photos will live. Will they be shown on the product pages, so the hesitant shoppers can see the real images, or on a separate page where all the pictures that have your hashtag will be displayed? I love to browse these kinds of pages on our merchants’ websites and get inspiration from customers’ photos where they showcase how to wear the purchased pieces or how to combine colors from a just delivered palette.
You can display professional pictures of your goods on the homepage and tag the products in them, so your visitors won’t get interrupted by being redirected to your Instagram account. Instead, they can continue shopping on your site by being redirected to the product’s page.
Reviews With Photos
Reviews are considered the most popular way of lending social proof to websites and they are still the most efficient way of proving to your customers that you aren’t a scammer.
Nowadays companies that specialize in social proof delivering methods are coming up with new different and interesting ways to get the most from reviews. The feature of adding photos to reviews is by far the most successful.
I love to brag a bit about new purchases so I never miss a chance to show them in photos and there are thousands of shoppers like me. Customers love to attach pictures of their purchases which makes the product more popular and the site more trustworthy. For that, you can offer them sweet discounts which never fail to work.
All these tools can be used all together on one website to convert indecisive visitors into loyal customers. Like our old friends, Uniqso brand who use Growave as a complete ecosystem for generating social proof, building loyal brand-customer relationships, increasing repeated purchases and expanding their brand.
It can be challenging to make your store lively, reputable and an interesting place without putting some effort into growing social proof. There are so many ways to make people trust you other than the above-listed variants.
So create your own atmosphere on your website, don’t hesitate to try new things and never lose a chance to display good feedback!
This is a guest contribution by Azem Kalykova. Azem is aCustomer Success Manager and Content Writer at Growave. She provides merchants with store improving strategies and help them to power their sites with a strong social proof base. She believes in the power of word and love to add creativity to numbers and codes. She will wake up in the middle of the night to answer clients’ question. Azem’s hobby is surfing through merchants’ website. She’s good at helping people, bad at writing her own short biographies. 🙂