9 Ways to Leverage Social Proof Without Looking Like an Idiot

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9 Ways to Leverage Social Proof Without Looking Like an Idiot

Did you know that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews? Or a simple security seal can increase your sales by 42%?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise because trust is by far the most important factor in a person’s purchase decision.

Imagine if I told you that I’m the best internet marketer on the planet. I can help drive sales by bringing new visitors to your website, converting them into subscribers and customers, and boost your overall revenue.

You probably wouldn’t believe me. Or worst, you would think that I’m full of myself.

But what if someone else told you that about me?

Maybe this other person said: “You should really check out Syed’s work. He has a YouTube channel with quarter of a billion views. He runs the largest WordPress resource site, and his lead-generation plugin helped me boost my conversion rate by 420%.”

Now you would probably want to check out my work.

That’s SOCIAL PROOF and it’s powerful because it triggers emotion.

People relate to other people. They relate to their friends. They relate to celebrities and experts. Most importantly they relate to things that helps them feel confident about their decision.

When a user lands on your website, they don’t know whether your product/service is good or bad. However, you can earn their trust by adding various different types of social proof.

Before you do that though, remember your customers are smarter than you think. Any attempts of trying to trick them can make you look like an idiot and lead to loss of sales.

Let’s take a look at nine clever ways to leverage social proof with examples that you can add on your site to boost sales and conversions.

1. Customer Testimonials

Testimonials are by far the easiest social proof you can add on your site.

We all think that our product/service is great, but people may not believe you unless they hear it from other people too.

That’s why you should reach out to your happiest customers and ask them for a short testimonial that you can post on your website.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

The best way to do this is search through your customer support tickets or recent praises on Twitter. Next, ask those folks if you could make their responses a testimonial for your site.

If you have a brand new product or service, then you should invite influencers, journalists, and/or your typical user, and give them a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Because testimonials can be easily faked, you should include a name, company, job title, and headshot to further boost the credibility of the testimonial.

You can take it one step further and actually embed the actual tweet on your site:

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

There are tons of scripts that allow you to get away with Twitter’s branding while still giving you the Tweet-style testimonial.

You can also ask your customers to give you video testimonials. Ever watched a car company’s commercial? They make entire commercials out of user’s testimonial.

If you can afford a professional crew and invite customers to record testimonials, then go for it. But most startups can’t afford to do that.

In that case, you should send them a selfie stick or a webcam that they can use to record their video testimonial. Sure it might cost you a few dollars, but you have an actual video testimonial that people can relate to because it’s not professional quality.

According to Reevo, customer reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

And, a Harvard Business School study showed that a one star increase in rating leads to 5 to 9% increase in revenue.

2. Media and Mentions

One of the best ways to boost your credibility is by borrowing someone else’s credibility.

Yup that’s exactly why you’ll see a lot of websites showing “Featured In” or “Mentioned In” with logos of top media outlets because they’re well-known brands.

You can see it at the top of my blog as well.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

Most people think it’s really hard to get featured in these top publications… That’s why they don’t try. Those who do try and are persistent, get featured in them.

Here are few tricks that can help you get mentions:

Guest Blog

Most sites welcome guest contributors as long as you have something valuable to add for their readers. Remember this article isn’t suppose to pitch your product. The fact that they are giving you an author byline, backlink (SEO), and exposure is more than enough.

Quotes / Roundups

Quotes and Roundups are becoming really popular because they get shared a lot, and that’s why top publications love it. Now that you know that, start searching for these roundups on top sites such as Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, etc.

Next, find the author who wrote them and get in touch with them. By getting in touch, I don’t mean tell them your life story or elevator pitch. Here’s a simple email template to use:

Hey {First Name},

I really liked your article that you published on {Publication Name} about {Modified Article Title}.

I found it really helpful because it’s something I needed. I’m trying {Insert Tip from the Article}, and it’s making a huge difference.

Anyways, I just wanted to send you a thank you note.

I’m sure you get tons of emails so I’m not expecting a reply. But it’d be really awesome to get one, so I know that you actually got my message.

Already followed you on Twitter, so I can stay updated with your newest articles.

{Your Name}

Now make sure you are following them on Twitter and genuinely interact with them. Remember you are going for a long-term relationship versus a one-time sell, so treat it like one.

Alternatively, you can prepare a similar round up, reach out to several well-known experts. Once you have their tips, then pitch the top publication.

Because you are borrowing the credibility of these experts, and you did all the hard work, at least one of the publications will publish your article.

Traditional PR

You can also go the traditional PR method. Create a story and pitch it to each publication. Start small and work your way up.

Now when you are adding these mentions, please make sure that you are being smart about it.

I have seen several times where a media outlet logo is linked to an actual press release. Yup, you can pay PRWeb $369 and have your press release distributed on premium news outlets. I don’t really consider those “mentions”. However some do.

Just know that your users have access to internet, and someone can call you out.

Another example of folks going overboard is when they mention things like:

“Our clients have been mentioned in” – This is acceptable if you are a PR agency because that is how you showcase your work. However if you are a freelance web designer who got a contract for Zillow, and then you add logos for every media outlet that mentioned Zillow, now that’s a bit crazy.

“Our speakers have been mentioned in” – This is something I have seen at smaller conferences and some podcasters landing page. If you are displaying 15 media outlet logos right below your call to action, then I find it a bit deceiving because those mentions aren’t for you, and someone can call you out for it.

I’m not saying don’t showcase the accomplishment of your speakers… That’s why there are bylines and bio pages. Use those instead.

Next up: The websites I visit have been featured on.

3. Celebrity / Authority

People trust celebrities and experts. Having their endorsement can really help your sales.

This is why in my tip #1, I recommend getting industry experts to give you testimonials.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

You can also pay celebrities for endorsements.

Priceline used a celebrity endorser back in 1997. William Shatner agreed to take company shares as part of his payment. Over the years, his shares are estimated to be worth more than $600 million.

4. Co-Hosted Webinars or Interviews

Another great way to add social proof is by associating yourself with well-known brands and experts. How do you do that?

You can do co-hosted webinars or you can do interviews.

Find companies that are well-respected within your industry and have the same type of customers. Reach out to them and come up with a strategy that benefits both parties. Often co-hosted webinars are a great way for cross-promotion, so it is not a strategy that you can use when you are just starting out as you don’t have much to give back.

Interviews on the other hand are easy. Invite experts to share their thoughts on your blog. You can do this via a podcast, text interview, video interview, or even on a twitter chat.

I really love the #BufferChat concept where the team at Buffer invites one expert a week to their Twitter chat. This is great value for both Buffer, the expert hosting the chat, and the audience.

5. Case Studies

When people decide on purchasing a good or service, nothing helps them more than knowing that the product works.

Yes, testimonials are great, but you can go deeper. Have detailed case studies of your customers because it features them and help makes your product look amazing.

KissMetrics does a great job of highlighting their customers with case-studies.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

6. Number of Shares

Probably the easiest way to add social proof is by showing the number of shares for your blog posts, and articles.

A lot of themes come built-in with this. Although there are plugins like Floating Social Bar and several others.

Now the hard part is actually getting the shares. So here are few tricks to boost your numbers:

Combine the Total Count

I first saw this on Mashable and then TheNextWeb. It made total sense because you might get a lot of shares on one network, and very few on others. Showing a total count solves that problem and make your article look more popular. I added this on List25, and wow the share counts went up.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

Eventually, I’ll have the List25 widget added on all sites including this one. We made that custom, but there are several plugins that have this functionality. One of them is called Mashshare.

Paid Promotion

When your site is new, set aside a daily promotion budget for your articles. Facebook is the best one that I’ve found because it’s so cheap. Simply use the boost post feature because it also helps your like count on your site.

7. Number of Followers

Just like the number of shares, number of followers help as well.

Nobody likes being the first to subscribe or signup, but if you show that they are joining their peers, then you will see a boost in signups.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

If you are new and don’t have a lot of followers, then again combining trick works great.

Instead of displaying the Twitter and Facebook widgets, both of which slow down your sites, combine their total count and show follow buttons below.

The GetNoticed theme that I’m using on this site comes with a widget that combines my follower count from all different platforms.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

8. Important Stats

If you haven’t gotten the trend, numbers convert. This includes: share count, follower count, and any other important number that you can add.

Whether that is the number of total downloads of your software, total customers, or any other metric that’s important for your customer.

Akismet, an anti-spam service, shows the number of spam they block:

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

Basecamp displays the number of companies signed up just last week:

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

SendGrid displays the total number of customers and the amount of emails they send every month for them:

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

9. Trust Seals

Believe it or not, adding trust seals on your checkout page can really boost your sales because it helps your credibility.

The folks at Blue Fountain Media did a split-test. The only thing they changed was add a Versign trust seal and it saw an increase of 42% in sales.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

If you are wondering which seal you should add, then take a look at the study done by Baymard Institute which shows which seal customers trust more.

Leveraging Social Proof Without Looking Dumb | SEJ

Those are the nine social proof examples that I have. What ways are you adding social proof on your site?

Sources: iPerceptions, 2011 // Baymard Institute 2013 // Blue Fountain Media // Harvard Business School, 2011


This post originally appeared on, and is re-published with permission.


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Syed Balkhi

Founder at WPBeginner

Syed Balkhi is an entrepreneur and a public speaker. His passion revolves around helping businesses succeed. He is known for ... [Read full bio]

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