Hi Gary O’Toole here with Sociocaster and in today’s post we are going to looking something rather important – using social proof to increase our conversions.

It does not take a marketing genius to work out, that what people are saying about our product or service online is going to effect our sales. Just look at these two statistics:

  1. Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. [source]
  2. Nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. [source]

We can see that the majority of people making a purchase want to see some kind of rating or review from other people before making a purchase.


What Is Social Proof?

“Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.” [source]

Within the context of digital marketing it simply means are people leaving reviews or ratings.

A Simple Analogy: Would You Prefer To Eat A Busy or Quiet Restaurant?

Most people will choose the busy restaurant because it is assumed that because it is full of paying customers that the food must be good! Psychologically we all assume if other people are buying or doing something that it must be worthwhile!

The same concept applies for almost any product or service you can think of! Social proof is not just restricted to traditional platforms such as Amazon or Yelp – it can even be taking places in more underground places that people hangout like a Facebook group for your town or city.

If your doing any kind of local marketing  – it pays to monitor all of the local community and for sale groups in your local area. Not only will you find plenty of opportunities to build rapport with the local community (and future prospects) but you will also be able to see when people are talking about your business.

My local area has a group with 3,548 members. Every time some one posts in this group every one in the group receives a notification, so if someone was making a negative comment about my business – 3,4548 people would be notified! This is social proof – negative social proof!

If you become a recognizable member of the group, making valid contributions on a regular basis – the chances of someone launching an attack on your business is greatly reduced. If people know you are of good character – even your business falls short, they will stick up for you or at least provide you with the opportunity to defend yourself!


If something goes wrong – use it to your advantage! Show your community that you listen to your customers and accept criticism and offer them a prompt resolution! Take the opportunity to over deliver and turn that negative comment into a positive one.  Avoid thinking small – yes it may cost you money to fix the problem but remember your on stage in front of 3,548 people and this is your chance to shine! Do not be the business owner who argues about a refund it is not a good look and in this context just provides social proof that you are selfish, unreasonable and difficult to deal with.

Check out the next section as we explore some things that you should know (and execute) when it comes to social proof and getting higher levels of conversions.

1.)Erase Negative Social Proof

Its widely recognized that urgency and scarcity are two of the most powerful tools that a marketer has in their arsenal – however some business owners have been using negative social proof in the mistaken belief that its authenticity will increase conversions.

Unfortunately negative social proof will do nothing to increase conversions and will almost certainly only have a negative effect your sales funnel!

An Example of this might be “Is Facebook harming your productivity? 1.5 billion people a day spend more than 3 hours a on social media”. In the first part of the copy we are suggesting that Facebook could be harming our productivity but in the second part we are saying 1.5 Billion are doing this every day. Psychologically we are saying that this is pretty normal and nothing to be worried about – so only a few people will take action to stop this behavior and as such our conversions will be low.

Never Use Negative Social Proof !!!!

2.) Positive Social Proof Is Powerful

So now we know that we need to avoid negative social proof at all costs – its time to learn that positive social proof is incredibly powerful.  Lets look an example of positive social proof “50 Million businesses are using Facebook to connect with their customers – every day!

In this example we can see that 50 million businesses are already using Facebook on a daily basis to connect with their customers – so the reader draws the conclusion that 50 million are already doing this – so they should be doing it too!

Positive social proof is so powerful that it is even more influential than offering a reduced price discount – think about it what sounds better?

  1. 50 Million businesses already doing something
  2. A $10 discount

50 Million is a much higher number than 10 – and lets face it 50 million people doing something is much more impressive than saving 10 bucks  (unless your a cheapskate!!!).

3.) Social Proof Works Better With Images & Video

In days gone by a few lines of text such as:

“Wonderweb is the greatest webdesign company in the UK”

“Wonderweb really get the job done fast”

“Wonderweb are the best webdesign company I have ever worked with”

Would of been considered sufficient social proof – then things changed and people realized that the quotes in the text could of simply been written by the website owner. The next phase was to add pictures – this built rapport and trust with potential website visitors. After a while people realized that these pictures could be just about anybody and the next trend was (and still is) to add video.

In the past few years it has become possible to buy video reviews and you do not have to be the worlds greatest detective to know that a majority of video testimonials are fake (actors) but there is no doubting that video invokes emotion and drives sales like nothing else!

Ideally you should be selling a product or service that is so great that you have real people queuing up to provide real testimonials – if this is not possible and you need a boost with some actors, please try and pick someone who that has not been seen too many times before (like the bald guy from all the IM software launches!!!)

4.) Using Social Media To Leverage Social Proof

I am a member of many Facebook groups – mostly relating to the digital marketing niche and recently a guy who is a personal trainer posted in one of them asking if anyone would like to try his training program out for free. My first thought was that posts like this usually get removed pretty quickly – but the admins let the post stick and within hours 50 people had responded asking to be signed up for his training.

He then PM’D all of us and  asked for our email address (so now he has collected 50 emails for free!) and then signed us all up to his members only site.

Once we were signed up to the site – we all received our login info. We then logged into this personal training/fitness and nutrition site and checked out the program we had requested (weight loss or muscle gain).

I had asked to take a look at his weight loss guide – it was a short 32 page booklet and it was very clear and concise and straight to the point – I learnt a lot from it!

I was really grateful for being able to access this information for free as to be truthful – I am not the most knowledgeable person on nutrition or fitness.  I shot the guy a message and provided some feedback and he was really courteous and grateful for me taking the time to do that and offered to help with any further questions that I might have.

This left me with a feeling that:

  • I had gained a product for free that was definitely worth paying for
  • The product was very well presented
  • The product did not waste my time
  • The product was straight to the point
  • The product creator was friendly and helpful

A few days later we were invited into a VIP group where we could keep up to date with each others progress and get future updates from the product creator.


To be honest I am not going to be using this guide straight away but I did find it very useful and the product creator did seem like a nice guy – so when he asked to leave a review on his page (using the star system) I was more than happy to oblige.

The product creator now has about 20 5 star reviews from real people , 50 emails of people interested in his niche and probably a handful of paying clients as well as a result.  Its a nice little method to leverage social media to build up social proof quickly and for free.

5.) We Are Most Influenced By Those Who We Relate To

Nothing is quicker to invoke anger or disinterest than being lectured by someone who we feel that we have nothing in common with. When someone we feel we have no connection with starts trying to tell us that something will benefit us, our first instinct is to rebel and reject whatever they are saying – even if the information its self is true!

Despite the fact that most people will consistently state that they are open minded and will give anything a try once – the human ego has other ideas.

Jan. 20, 2009 ÒPresident-elect Barack Obama was about to walk out to take the oath of office. Backstage at the U.S. Capitol, he took one last look at his appearance in the mirror.Ó (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

This all relates back to knowing who your target audience is and creating your ideal customer avatars – this way you can ensure that, the people you are choosing to be your social proof will have an instant rapport with the prospects your are attempting to convert.

Its just human nature – we relate and trust people that we consider to be “like us”.

6.) Everyone Loves A Success Story

Nothing is more powerful than the power of story telling. The art of story telling has been with us since the dawn of man kind and has performed all kinds of purposes within our societies.

In recent years story telling for brands has been huge and now in 2016 nothing is more effective than hearing a real life success story of which has been enabled by a customer using a particular product or service.

I am sure that you would jump at the chance to buy a product or service if you could see real life proof of it actually working for someone who you identify with.

7.) Influencers Influence!

What could be better than finding the influencers within your niche and getting them to use your product or service and  them  providing some social proof that it worked for them?

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10:  Kim Kardashian attends the 19th Annual ACRIA Holiday Dinner at Skylight Modern on December 10, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for  ACRIA)

People are always keen to “use what the professionals use” or at least in (most cases) “own what the professionals use”. Having access to the same equipment and resources as perceived professionals makes people feel important and more confident that they will be able to achieve their aims and goals.

8.) Better To Be Thought Of An Idiot Than Open Your Mouth And Prove It

If you have low or negative social proof – I highly recommend removing it until you have built up a more solid reputation. I understand it all starts from one review – but its definitely better to have no reviews or nothing that indicates its possible to leave a review/comment as psychologically its giving off the impression of that empty restaurant we talked about earlier.

I have been Gary O’Toole and I hope you find this post useful, its definitely something to think about for sure! Well enjoy the rest of your week and I will be back with another great video on Friday.

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