. Thanks to the social media revolution, we’ve entered a user-generated content future where consumers are seeking out the opinions of like-minded people to establish whether your brand has the social proof they’re looking for. Releasing a stream of high-quality content can place you in a virtuous cycle of follower growth—the more you share, the more people see your content, read it, share it, and follow you. By providing consistently relevant, interesting content, you can increase your follower count and build valuable social proof. The goal, after all, is to encourage your audience to leave reviews, share your messaging, invite friends to purchase your products and create their own content about your products. The goal should be to increase conversion rates by positioning your brand as well-loved. If you can convince others to trust you because you have evidence that others already do, you can generate a positive perception of your brand. This means taking the time to measure your current performance on each platform, including the product reviews, social media mentions, social media followers by platform, Yelp and Google reviews, and purchases. The ultimate goal is to focus on social proof initiatives that drive inbound leads and sales.
Long gone are the days of brands having complete control of the narrative around their products and services. Thanks to the social media revolution, we’ve entered a user-generated content future where consumers are seeking out the opinions of like-minded people to establish whether your brand has the social proof they’re looking for.
According to a 2016 study from Twitter and Annalect, approximately 49 percent of social media users rely on recommendations from influencers to inform their purchasing decisions.
Even more interesting?
Consumers have come to trust the opinions of their peers or other online experts far more than brands—and nearly as much as their friends.
According to the same study, about 40 percent of respondents said they’ve purchased something after seeing an influencer feature it on his or her social pages. Compare that to the measly one percent of millennials who say a compelling ad has influenced a purchasing decision, and it becomes startlingly clear that you need to build social proof to gain loyal customers—and UGC is at the foundation of that strategy.
The Proof Is in the Pudding
I like to think of social proof as driving people to replicate the behavior and lifestyles of those they admire—including how they dress, what they eat, and even where they choose to vacation.
Social proof is not a concept born in the social media age. For example, in the famous 1986 Hair Club commercial, CEO Sy Sperling drove incredible results with a simple line, “I’m not only the Hair Club president. I’m also a client.” Similarly, nightclubs limit entry and make patrons wait in lines outside. The visual of others wanting to get into the club so badly that they line up increases the perception of the venue’s popularity. Make no mistake—this tactic is meant to entice a passerby to check out the club, too.
That said, social media has amplified this effect by delivering intimate snapshots of other people’s lives right into the palms of our hands. Think about it: Social media is the perfect medium for appealing to humans’ inherently tribal side, and this need to belong is critical to the way we share on social platforms. Considering that about a third of all time spent online is dedicated to social media, it’s easy to see the power of social proof.
Building the Proof You Need
Simply put, social proof shows consumers that their peers are buying a brand’s products, so they should as well. But social proof comes in many forms—all considered UGC—from basic reviews to check-ins to pictures to influencers hyping up events. Here are three…