Social proof is one of the most important concepts in marketing, and if you’re like most agents, you’ve likely been utilizing this principle without even knowing it. We’re here to dive into the inner workings of social proof so you can invigorate your marketing efforts and bring in new leads.
What is social proof?
Simply put, social proof is the idea that human beings are, in general, more likely to do something if they see other people doing it first. Decades of psychological studies have proven time and time again that human beings crave belongingness, and social proof is just an extension of our inherent need to belong or “fit in.”
For example, think about the last time you searched for a new restaurant to try. If you’re like most people, you probably searched on Google or Yelp before making your decision, subconsciously factoring in other people’s reviews of restaurants as you go. That taco place down the street may look run down, but if you see dozens of 5-star reviews, you’re infinitely more likely to give it a try than you would be otherwise.
There are five commonly accepted types of social proof:
- This involves getting a credible expert’s seal of approval on your product or service. We’re talking doctors, lawyers, psychologists, and other qualified professionals — not underqualified bloggers.
- This one’s pretty straightforward: Think about the massive influx of celebrities using their platforms to advertise a brand’s products or services. Paid endorsements are great, but celebrity social proof is even more effective if it’s unpaid. For example, One Kings Lane, a home decor website, saw a 90% lift in daily sign-ups after an unpaid mention in Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog.
- This type of social proof usually takes the form of statements like “9 out of 10 customers agree” or “Rated 5-stars by more than 100 users.” This approach turns satisfied customers into easy marketing material.
- “Wisdom of the crowd”
- Similarly to the user-centric approach, this approach highlights massive popularity or usership numbers: Think McDonald’s’ “Over 1 Billion Served” signs.
- “Wisdom of your friends”
- Finally, this approach employs users to reach out to their friends to recommend a product directly. Referral-based discount codes are the easiest way for most businesses to implement this type of social proof.
What does social proof in marketing look like?
Let’s take a look at three effective marketing campaigns, each of which utilizes a different type of social proof to drive action.
1. Ostrich Pillow
Ostrich Pillows uses a textbook example of expert social proof to boost their credibility and sell more pillows. The above testimonials come from a neurologist and a sport psychologist, two people who are likely to know more about sleep than just about anyone else. It’s these expert testimonials that make these pillows seem “legit,” making visitors to this Kickstarter page more comfortable in committing their money to this project.
StitchFix, a subscription-based clothing retailer, has utilized “Word of the crowd” based social proof in their marketing to great success. The screen you see above is presented to existing StitchFix users, offering them a $25 credit if someone uses their referral link to sign up for their own StichFix subscription. The $25 is a relatively significant discount for the person providing the referral link, and the person on the other end of the exchange is reassured about the quality of the service because of their friend’s recommendation.
3. Mark Zuckerberg + iGrill
Ok, we admit it: This one’s not a marketing campaign, but it is an excellent example of successful celebrity social proof. After Mark Zuckerberg posted about using iGrill, an internet-connected grilling thermometer, iGrill’s website was immediately overcome with web traffic. In fact, the iGrill website was so swamped by incoming traffic that it crashed! Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t trying to advertise a product here, but due solely to his status as a major celebrity, Facebook users were compelled to learn more about the product featured in his post.
How can real estate agents use social proof to bring in leads?
Now that we’ve done a deep dive into some common uses of social proof, it’s time to make this impressively versatile concept work for you. Real estate agents do a hefty amount of advertising across mediums, and there’s nearly unlimited opportunity to utilize social proof in your advertising.
It’s worth noting that many agents rely on personal referrals for a good chunk of leads, but social proof follows a similar concept while expanding your reach. Instead of waiting for your clients to refer you, you can show the world at-large that you’ve got a sparkling reputation.
Let’s start with user-based social proof. If you’ve been maintaining your Google My Business Profile and actively soliciting reviews from past clients, we recommend incorporating those reviews into your website and your advertising. Take a look at this example from Fisher Real Estate:
This agent has a bevy of positive reviews to pick from, so they’ve chosen 4 standout reviews to feature prominently on their website. New visitors to this website are more likely to feel comfortable reaching out to this agent because of the presence of these reviews on their website, and any number of those intrigued visitors could turn into a lead down the line.
Let’s pivot to “wisdom of the crowd” based social proof. Take a look at this graphic from an agent’s website:
This agent has taken a different approach to the concept of social proof. Instead of calling out specific reviews and positive qualities, they’ve chosen to go lead off with popularity and sheer numbers. That “1200+ Happy Clients” bubble is immediately compelling to new visitors: After all, 1200 satisfied clients can’t be wrong, can they?
This type of social proof should extend beyond your website, though. These very same principles can be incorporated into your next Facebook or Google ads. If you’re a wordsmith, spend some time writing killer copy that lets users in on an impressive statistic about you or your business. More visually inclined? Create a graphic that draws attention to a particularly glowing 5-star review.
The options for incorporating social proof into your marketing are nearly endless, so feel free to get creative!