Social Proof: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

//Social Proof: What is it and Why Does it Matter?


Social proof is the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.
It is a powerful tool used in marketing and one that we come across on a regular basis.

  • Lines of people waiting outside an Apple store in anticipation for the latest iPhone
  • Comedy shows adding a laugh track to make a joke sound funnier
  • Restaurants increasing sales by calling specific items ‘their most popular dish’
  • Nightclub owners maintaining lines of partygoers

These are all examples of social proof being used for effective marketing purposes. According to a 2015 Nielsen study, two-thirds say they trust consumer opinions posted online.

Social Proof

For retailers, there is an opportunity to increase shopper engagement and sales by harnessing the social proof enabled by User Generated Content. The obvious benefits include improving SEO and increasing traffic to your website. However, did you know that the use of social proof can actually increase the value of an order. A recent report carried out by Mintel found that ‘’opinion seeking is correlated with a higher household income and these consumers are therefore able to consider other factors beyond price in their purchase decision’’.

In fact, social proof can be a more effective motivator than saving money. According to a study that encouraged people to use fans instead of air conditioning. In the study residents of a neighborhood in California were shown different messages encouraging them to curb air conditioning use. The message telling them that 77% of their neighbors were using fans was more effective than the sign that informed them of the $54 dollars a month they could be saving on their utility bills.

Now that we have established the effectiveness of social proof, what are the key factors that retailers should be aware of when implementing their own social proof strategy.

No Proof vs Low Proof

Firstly, it’s better to have no social proof than low proof. Social media counts is a commonly used tactic by websites to show the size of their community. A low number of followers, however, can be detrimental and can hinder your goal of driving conversions. Similarly, a low number of reviews for a product is worse than having no reviews at all.

Go High

Secondly, avoid using negative social proof. A mistake that is used by many marketing executives, using negative social proof can backfire and have a detrimental effect on conversion rates. The most well-known study on negative social proof tested three different signs in the Arizona Petrified Forest to stop people from stealing wood. The sign that included negative social proof actually tripled the number of thefts.

In short, social proof can be a tremendous tool in the eCommerce armory. Look for opportunities to boost your site using these approaches and be aware of the common mistakes.

Aspectiva analyzes massive volumes of consumer opinions from across the web, turning them into comprehensive and valuable insights. Based on Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing technologies, we leverage User Generated Content to help online shoppers search for the products they want and provide the recommendations to enable them to make informed purchasing decisions. Supporting eCommerce sites across any type of product or service, Aspectiva significantly increases shopper engagement and conversion rates.

For more information visit www.aspectiva.com or email info@aspectiva.com to find out more.