Do you know the power of group influence? You should! It’s been with you since you were a child. In fact, it probably helped shape the music you listened, the hobbies you took up, and the clothes you wore. It’s also the reason you started following that great blog after a friend told you about it or shared a link to it.

People are wired to learn from others’ actions and to take into account the information shared by others. This psychological phenomenon is called social proof and it can be a huge driver of consumer behavior when used well.

So how can you use this positive influence effectively on your website?

It Starts and Ends with the Content

The only way social proof works is when the copy is spot on. Social proof can help you be more persuasive in your storytelling and help make potential customers feel more at ease.

Arjan Haring discussed how Amazon’s social recommender is successful not only because of the technology, but because of the copy. By using the persuasive copy “Customers who bought this also bought” creates a much better story and call-to-action than a neutral message like “You could also try”. There is a psychology that plays into this copy. It signals to the user that others have made this decision so it must be okay, and is much more persuasive than just listing similar or complementary items.

By effectively utilizing social proof on your site you can help funnel traffic to the desired action you want them to complete, whether it is signing up for a newsletter, liking your social sites or scheduling a meeting to learn more about your products.

Social Proof Marketing Examples

Reviews, Testimonials and User Success Stories

One common and effective use of social proof is reviews. Your reviews should explain how your solution solved an existing customer’s problem that can be easy for a potential customer to identify with. It will also help shed light on someone else’s perspective that has been there before and is interpreted as more authentic and less polished since it is an objective third-party and does not come from the company.

Always aim to display reviews from people who are similar to your ideal or average customer. People will resonate better with reviews from people like them. You always want the person and their story to be relatable. Another way to increase the trustworthiness and exposure of your reviews and testimonials is by placing a picture of the person. People are naturally drawn to pictures.

Andy Crestodina brings up a good point in his article The Psychology of Social Proof & How to Build Trust in Your Business that you should never create a page of testimonials. They are far less effective when grouped together. Instead spread your reviews and testimonials throughout your website highlighting reviews for specific products on that page.

Social Media

Social share buttons are becoming increasingly common throughout the web. How often do you see blog posts that showcase the amount of shares it’s received on Twitter, Facebook and Google+? My guess is quite often (well, if you read as many blogs as I do). These can be great indicators that the content is good and trustworthy. It can also help to persuade others to share your content. However, use social share buttons with caution as it can deter people who could think the low count means the content is less trustworthy or poor content.

Another great way to spread social proof is by having existing customers talk about your brand on social sites like Twitter. Rand Fishkin discussed in The Varying Effectiveness of Social Proof-Whiteboard Friday how having a couple people in your network tweet about one brand will not only make you believe that brand is trustworthy, but you will also begin to think the brand is much bigger than it may be. One way to increase social shares is by placing Tweet buttons on your site or after a customer has converted by signing up for your newsletter.

If you still are not convinced check out this infographic from Social Proof Creative. It lists a bunch of great stats on social proof and more ways you can start implementing it on your site today.