In this post, I’ll present 11 visual and brilliant examples of how some of our favorite websites use social proof.
Social proof became a common marketing strategy. If used correctly, it can be very effective and powerful.
In physical stores, social proof is more nuanced. The very presence of people in a store is a powerful way of using social proof to attract customers.
If you’re doing business online, the situation is different. You need to actively display social proof in various ways to enjoy its benefits.
Let’s get started.
Before jumping straight to explore examples of social proof across multiple popular websites and brands, let’s first cover what exactly is social proof?
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation. The term was coined by Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, in his 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
According to Robert Cialdini, social proof is one of the most powerful concepts in persuading people to take certain actions, such as buying your product or service.
To further understand why people tend to follow the actions of others, let’s look at the Solomon Asch conformity experiment that took place in 1951. For the experiment, Asch gathered 50 male students to participate in a vision test.
The participants were divided into groups of 8 and had to choose which one of the lines A, B, or C matched the target line. But in each of the groups, only 1 participant was being tested, the other 7 were confederates that decided on a single answer ahead of time.
The answer was always obvious. If the participant gave an incorrect answer it would be clear that this was due to group pressure and would be an indication of social proof.
There were 18 trials in total, and the confederates gave the wrong answer on 12 trails. During those 12 tests, 75% of the unknowing participants conformed and gave the wrong answer at least once.
When Asch asked the unknowing participants why they conformed, he found that people follow social proof for one of two reasons:
- They want to fit in with the group.
- They believe the group is better informed than they are.
Social proof is a type of conformity. When a person is in a situation where they are unsure of the correct way to behave, they will often look to others for clues concerning the correct behavior. And as you can imagine, social proof can be a very powerful tool for marketers when used correctly.
Displaying recent purchases
Showing that a product has been purchased recently is an incredible way of using social proof on your website. It shows that it’s interesting to other people at that moment.
This is a much stronger statement than simply saying that the product has been purchased. What was relevant a month ago may not be as attractive right now.
Booking.com does a great job of demonstrating this type of social proof. Scrolling through the different hotel rooms and apartments there, you can’t miss the red colored statement showing how many people have already booked that room recently.
Furthermore, this social proof tactic plays on visitor’s FOMO. When booking a sleeping solution for an oncoming vacation, tourists are competing for a limited number of available rooms.
If they see a room they like has been booked many times, they may feel an urgency to book that room immediately to not miss out on it.
Displaying the number of people that currently want to buy a product
Similar to the example above, showing how many people are looking at a particular product at that moment is also a great way to display social proof on your website.
Etsy takes it a step further by showing the number of people that currently have a specific product in their shopping cart. This is a great way to use social proof and shows that people not only viewed the product but decided it’s good enough for them to purchase it.
Suddenly, every one of the people that have the product in their cart is a competitor, and people feel an urgency to get it before it runs out of stock.
Displaying large numbers of previous customers
Another great way to use social proof is to show the power your brand has is to display the number of people that are actively using your online product or service.
That is exactly what Udemy does.
First, they show the large number of people that have joined their online course. Such large numbers immediately grab people’s eyes and make them think that if so many people have decided to get this course, it must be something special.
But they don’t stop there, Udemy also presents the average rating score students have given their course. Simply showing that your product or service has received a good rating is great, but showing that a large number of people have given the rating is even better.
People follow the actions of the masses. Thus, boasting about the size of your user base can be an easy and beneficial way of using social proof.
Displaying customer logos
One of the keys to building a good successful business is having credibility. No matter how good your product or service may be, if clients or consumers don’t view your company as credible, they will not make the purchase.
An incredible way to build credibility is by using a client’s name or logo on your business’s website as social proof. Ubersuggest shows us a great example of that by stating the number of companies that use its service – over 50,000, followed by some of their big clients’ logos.
They also do a good job of knowing where to place this kind of social proof – the pricing page.
The only people on your pricing page are those who are already interested in buying your product. You no longer need to convince them that your product is good, but rather give them the confidence they need to complete the purchase.
Anyone selling a product or service should be proud of the companies with whom they do business, and see the display of these names and logos as not only points of pride but as a marketing tool to attract similar customers and give them confidence.
Securing brand endorsements from celebrities can dramatically increase your company’s sales and profits by creating social proof and brand credibility.
Let’s look at one of the most well-known social proof examples of celebrity social proof – George Clooney for Nespresso. George’s association over many years with Nespresso has been very successful. It has created brand awareness and intent to purchase by association.
George’s celebrity has helped drive sales because the aspiration is to be like George by having a Nespresso coffee machine.
And what’s one of the best parts about gaining celebrity backing? Since your favorite stars typically have a large following on social media, a celebrity endorsement can skyrocket your audience awareness.
Unless your company is already well-known, finding celebrities to do brand endorsements may seem like a daunting (and expensive) task. So, what can you do to attract the right hot-shot? From actors to singers, local heroes to social media influencers, and athletes to models —there’s no need to limit yourself when seeking an endorsement.
Even a simple shout-out can make your brand stand apart from others.
Social media following
The number of followers you have on social media accounts isn’t the most important thing and it definitely isn’t enough to measure a business’s worth.
However, if you already have a large following, displaying that on your website can be a very powerful way to demonstrate social proof.
People love to follow the crowd – when people see there are a large group of people doing something, they’re more likely to join in.
On Mashable, They not only displayed the number of social media likes and followers they have across multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google but also added links to allow visitors easy access to joining the others in following them.
What could be a more powerful way to display social proof than customers’ reviews and testimonials? Displaying reviews and testimonials from actual experts in your field.
Expert social proof is when an industry leader or influencer approves of your product. They can show their support by blogging, posting on social media, or being quoted or photographed as a product user.
Trilogy shows expert social proof on their website by displaying the allure best of beauty award winner stamp. Being a big name in the beauty industry, allure’s stamp of approval immediately gives confidence to those who are unfamiliar with the product.
After all, it wouldn’t receive an award if it wasn’t a good product.
Showing a product is low in stock
The fear of missing out can have a powerful effect on shoppers. Simply showing customers when supplies are low or sold out creates a sense of urgency among your website visitors.
It can help make more people buy immediately and fewer people “go home and think about it”.
ASOS uses social proof effectively by displaying when their products are “low in stock”, thus creating scarcity and encouraging customers to purchase before the product is no longer available.
You can use stock shortages to your advantage. Instead of looking at limited quantities of your products as a limitation to the sales you can make, look at them as a way to show scarcity to your customers and increase the perceived value of your products.
One of the key reasons many businesses fail to convert is because their potential customer just doesn’t know if it’s going to work for them. This is why you should use social proof to show how clients are enjoying your product by using case studies.
Case studies are great examples of social proof because not only can you showcase your happy clients and display social proof, you’re primarily demonstrating your proof of concept.
Rise.ai does a great job of using case studies to display social proof. They have a dedicated page on their website where visitors can go and read other customers’ success stories.
Even better, rise.ai lets the visitor see the results the other customers had without forcing them to read the entire case study.
By displaying the results in the short titles, the benefit of using their product is made very clear, very fast.
Showing reviews and ratings
Customer reviews and testimonials are one of the strongest forms of social proof, and Sephora provides another incredible example of how they can be used.
On each individual product page, users can leave detailed reviews, give a rating of 1 to 5 stars, and other users can give a thumbs up to reviews that they find helpful. This way, even the reviews have a social proof element to them!
However, don’t be afraid of negative reviews. An INC article has mentioned that A few bad reviews won’t necessarily prevent people from buying your product. But if there are no reviews that mention your product’s flaws, consumers may become suspicious. They may even lose trust in the positive reviews that you do choose to display.
About Us page
Your About Us page is one of the most important pages on your website and a great place to use social proof. It’s often one of the first stops people make when visiting your blog or website and may be a deciding factor before you convince someone to convert.
The main purpose of your About Us page is to give your visitors a glimpse into who you are as a person or a business. By making the page interactive, engaging, and informative you can get visitors to start feeling a connection with your brand.
We can see an example of social proof in an About Us page on ToyFight. The page changes as you interact with it, and gives you a sense of the personalities of the co-founders Jonny and Leigh.
Speaking of them, their bio paragraphs are using social proof to their advantage by letting the reader know about all of the big-name brands they worked with in the past.
Another way to use social proof in your About Us page is to introduce all your team members and their positions in the company, which could add a sense of professionalism to the page.
Additionally, showing a map with your company’s worldwide locations or countries where your product is available uses social proof to reinforce your product’s value.
Making a press release is another great way to use social proof. The purpose of a press release is to get attention, make news, and generate publicity. It’s cost-effective marketing (free) and it can be used to create brand awareness.
If the press has published any positive reporting about your brand, this earned media is a great way to build brand awareness, backlinks to your website, and social proof that your business is worth paying attention to.
Chevrolet’s product launch press release uses multimedia – photos and video to create greater engagement for journalists, meaning they’re more likely to want to cover the story. The text is not overwhelming and allows the journalists to develop unique stories and put their own spin on the product coverage.
It’s important to make the press release interesting to make sure many journalists will want to cover it. More coverage from news outlets means more social proof for you.
- “People who bought this also bought that”
- “These are our best-sellers”
- Bought by X amount of people
- “Served X number customers so far”
- “Join others just like you who’re benefitting from this”
- Displaying the # of subscribers
- Displaying your # of followers
- Showing # of views
- Showing # of comments or engagements
- Displaying social media following
- Publishing a press release
- Writing a blog post or technical paper about the experience
- Presenting at a conference or event about the partnership
- Take over your social media for a day
- Post images of your product on social media
- Unpaid endorsements
- Before and after photos
- Case studies
- Displaying clients’ logos
- Low in stock
- X people have this product in their cart
- Only X units left
- X people have purchased this product in the last X hours
- X people are currently viewing this product
- Sponsored posts on social media
- About me pages
As you can see, social proof can work wonders for increasing your conversions, and it comes in many different forms.
In this article, we went over 11 examples of social proof used by popular websites and discussed what makes them work effectively to increase sales.
Additionally, we covered a list of ways to use social proof you can start implementing today on your own website.
Try out the examples above and see for yourself what type of results you can achieve.