How to Build and Leverage Social Proof for Your Small Business

Apr 2, 2024 | Blog

Social proof is powerful. In fact, it’s arguably the best way to build trust around your small business. Consumers don’t just want to take your word for it that you’re the best – of course you’re going to say that. However, if they can see evidence that you have made many previous customers and clients happy, they will be more inclined to part with their hard-earned cash and invest in what you’re offering. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best way to build social proof for your small business.

What is Social Proof?

The law of social proof dictates that the greater the number of people who find an idea correct, the more correct the idea will be.

Remember your parents asking “if so-and-so jumped off of a cliff, would you?”

The same rule applies here. If your prospects can see that others have taken the leap and landed safely, they will be more inclined to do the same.

Of course, you’re not actually asking anyone to jump off of anything – unless, of course, you’re selling diving boards. For your business, social proof can take the form of:

  • Reviews – both on your website and sites like Google and TrustPilot
  • User-generated content from customers, such as Instagram stories, Facebook check-ins and TikTok videos
  • Expert proof – a recommendation from a niche authority goes a long way
  • Crowd social proof – for example, when WordPress advertises that ⅓ of the sites on the internet are made using their platform.
  • Working with local charities and organisations
  • Stamps of approval, such as SSL certificates
  • Awards

Reach Out to Your Customers

Most of your customers won’t review you unprompted, which is why it’s important to ask for them. You can even offer a discount or special deal in exchange for an honest review on a certain website. Depending on your business, you can either ask in person or as part of a post-purchase email sequence.

Respond to Reviews

Eventually, your business will receive a negative review or two. It’s okay – mistakes happen. However, it’s important to show that you are responding to reviews, as customers view this as trustworthy behaviour. Research by TrustPulse found that customers placed 70% more trust in businesses who responded to negative reviews than in those who didn’t.

When responding to bad reviews, remember to be polite and courteous. Don’t make excuses. Apologise for the customer’s displeasure and reach out with contact details to arrange a solution privately.

Encourage User-Generated Content

If people see their friends talking and sharing photos of a business online, they are far more likely to trust it and check it out for themselves, so make it a priority to encourage user-generated content.

Ways to do this include:

  • Creating a fun mural wall or photobooth set up
  • Clearly displaying your business’ hashtag around your premises, website and social media
  • Encouraging users to tag your business account in their photos
  • Organising a fun challenge, such as taking a selfie with your product

Then, you must actively engage with your followers. Re-share their content, comment on their photos and talk to them. This will keep their enthusiasm flowing.

Work with Influencers and Experts

Working with influencers is a great way to build credibility and trust for your brand.

Don’t just look at follower count – anyone can buy followers. It’s most important to look at engagement rates. Do the creator’s audience trust and actively ask for their recommendations? Are they an expert in their field? Do they post regularly?

Partner with Other Businesses

Teaming up with a business who shares your audience and complements, but doesn’t compete with, your offering is a great way to build trust. You could team up to deliver a webinar, exchange guest blog posts or do a social media takeover.

Final Thoughts

Social proof is a powerful way to build trust around your business and brand. When customers see a myriad of social proof surrounding your business, they feel that investing in your services is less of a risk and thus feel more confident in doing so. Best of all, gathering social proof is a relatively straightforward process that simply requires a little time and, of course, consistent effort.

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