The importance of social proof in marketing

“Why should I choose you?” 

That's what people are wondering when they come across your business.

We've worked in the social media industry for many years now, managing the marketing for many clients in a variety of different industries, and there's one thing they all have in common when it comes to turning people into customers: Social proof. 

In this episode, we are talking about how social proof can help to persuade someone to pick you. We’ll be discussing:

  • What social proof is
  • How to gather social proof and testimonials from your clients
  • How to use social proof within your marketing
  • The four most common mistakes freelancers make when it comes to social proof – and how to avoid them.

What is social proof?

Social proof is most commonly known as the testimonials and reviews you receive from your clients and customers. However, there are a lot of other things that could be seen as social proof that we don’t always consider. 

For example, if you have lots of people using your products and sharing photos of them, this is really good social proof!

It could also be in the number of people you’ve helped. For instance, we often highlight that over 4,000 freelancers have gone through our programmes. By highlighting this number, we’re instantly giving our ideal clients a sense of confidence in what we do by sharing just how many people have put their trust in us.

Social proof comes from the proof that you’re good at what you do. This can either be collected from the opinions and recommendations of your clients, or based on the facts (such as the numbers).

Why you need to use social proof within your marketing

It’s time for a story! The other day, a friend of mine was looking for a freelance social media marketer. They were very specific about the skills they needed this freelancer to have and the niche they needed to be in. So I started searching social media (LinkedIn and Instagram) to try and find a freelancer who would have been a good fit. 

There are a lot of social media marketers out there, but I found it very difficult to find someone that I thought was right for this particular niche. And even when I did finally come across someone who seemed like they might be the right fit, they didn’t have any social proof instantly visible to me.

Without social proof, there was nothing that stood out to say that this person would be good for the job. I couldn’t see any examples of what their previous clients had said about them, or even any stats to back them up.

When your ideal clients are looking to hire you, they need something to shout out at them and say: “this is the person I should be hiring.” That’s where social proof comes in.

Your ideal client is looking for something that tells them why they should hire you and why you’re different to your competitors. As a freelancer, you need to have this information readily available to them.

They’re not going to search through your website to find your social proof. They need it to be obvious and in their faces. If you’re not doing this, you’re leaving money on the table.

Even if someone sees your social proof and isn’t necessarily looking to hire right now, they’re going to remember you in the future when they are looking to hire because they’re going to remember the impact you had on your clients or the impressive stats you shared.

Ultimately, social proof really can make all the difference between whether someone chooses to hire you or not.

How to get your clients to leave testimonials and social proof

Now that we’ve discussed why social proof is so important, let’s talk about how to actually gather those testimonials, reviews and social proof from your clients. 

To cut a long story short, the easiest way to gather testimonials and social proof is to just ask them.

I’ll never forget an experience I had with a client who converted approximately £1.2 million off the back of an ad campaign that I had run for him. When he told me the news, I knew that I had to strike while the iron was hot, so I went straight back to him and asked if I could put that win on a graphic to share with my audience as a testimonial. With that, he wrote back with some more context that I was able to screenshot and share straight away.

Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for a testimonial if you’re generating great results for them. They’re likely going to be excited to share their results and want to thank you for them.

When to ask your clients for a testimonial

A lot of people wait until they’ve finished working with a client before they ask for a testimonial. But the best time to get that social proof is while you’re actually working with the client, while you’re getting good results for them, and while the relationship is at its best. This is where the best and most authentic testimonials will come from because it’s fresh in their minds and they’re excited.

If your client isn’t sure what to say or how to frame their testimonial, you can simply ask them to talk about a specific result that they had while working with you.

How to collect social proof without asking for a testimonial

Actively asking for testimonials can feel quite labour-intensive and a bit awkward, but it’s not the only way to collect social proof.

Here are other forms of social proof you can easily collect and share:

  • Screenshot positive messages and feedback from your clients
  • Screenshot the data/analytics (with your client's info taken out of course)
  • Turn testimonials into case studies
  • Screenshot positive comments on your social media posts
  • Screenshot feedback about your podcast or freebie
  • Reshare your story tags and mentions

Social proof doesn’t have to be a formal testimonial, and they don’t have to be talking about your specific services for it to be considered social proof. They can also be talking about your free content and that’s still really great social proof to share!

How to use social proof within your marketing

Before you start using social proof within your marketing, we recommend that you set up a system that details whether or not you have permission to share the testimonial, the last time you shared the testimonial and where you’ve shared the testimonial.

Making a note of these things allows you to clearly see how you’ve used the social proof and make sure you’re not sharing the same piece of social proof again and again in the same place. Once you have this information, you can start using social proof within your marketing.

Most people share social proof on its own, but here are 5 creative ways you can share social proof that you may not have thought of before:

1. Give context to your value lead content with social proof

When you’re making claims on social media, using social proof is a great way to back up what you’re saying and establish your credibility. Doing this provides more value when you’re teaching something because you’re able to show the proof and highlight what your client has achieved/said about it. 

2. Add social proof to any directories you’re listed in

If you’re an Inner Hub member, you may have a listing on our Meet the Social Pro Directory. If so, you can add some social proof there. The same goes for any other directories you may be a part of.

This is a classic example of where people have a lot of choice, but they’re looking for someone who stands out. They want to know why they should hire you above anyone else. Including social proof here is a great way to draw attention to yourself amongst the competition.

3. Include social proof within your email signature

You can even add social proof to your email signature. Anyone who receives your emails will then see that and potentially identify you as the person they want to hire because that social proof shows them that you are exactly who they’re looking for.

4. Add social proof as a featured post on LinkedIn

If you’re on LinkedIn, you have the ability to add a featured post to the top of your profile. This is a great place to put any testimonials or client case studies you have because it’s right at the top of your feed and it’s the first thing people see when they come to your profile.

You can also do this on Instagram by pinning your post to the top of the feed.

5. Add social proof to your social media bios

If you've got some short, snappy, amazing social proof, you could add that to your bio. Again, making you stand out from the competition and being the first thing people see when they click on your profile.

Four mistakes you might be making with your social proof

Now that we’ve covered the importance of social proof, how to collect it, and how to use it within your marketing, we thought it only made sense to share some of the most common mistakes we see freelancers making with social proof and how you can avoid making those same mistakes.

1. Not sharing social proof

So many people spend time collecting social proof, saving all the screenshots etc. but don’t ever actually share them with the world. If you’re collecting social proof but not sharing it, it's a complete waste of time and a wasted opportunity.

Your ideal client needs to be able to see that social proof as a reason to hire you, so you need to make sure that you are sharing it.

2. Not having a system to share your social proof

Before you share social proof, you first need to know the following:

  • Whether or not you have permission to share it
  • When you last shared it
  • Which product/service it relates to
  • How old the testimonial is

Knowing these things will help you keep on top of your social proof and ensure you’re always sharing the truth. 

For example, if you’re sharing a testimonial from a client that’s a year old, but now your service looks different, that testimonial may not be relevant anymore. But if you have this information in place, you can notice that and stop sharing that particular testimonial.

It will also help you to make sure you’re rotating your testimonials and not reusing the same one over and over, which leads us to the next mistake…

3. Sharing the same piece of social proof too often

If you’re sharing the same piece of social proof over and over again, your audience are constantly seeing that same comment and that same person. This might make them wonder if you’re actually getting results for anyone else, or if you’re just reusing testimonials from this one client because they’re your superfan.

It’s important to show that you’re having a wider impact on lots of different people.

On this subject, it’s also important to think about the diversity of people you’re sharing social proof from. If your audience are seeing the same type of person you work with, but that person doesn’t look like them, then they might think that you’re not for them. Your audience needs to be able to resonate and see themselves within your brand, so it’s really important to be inclusive!

4. Not adding social proof to value lead content, or making content valuable when you share social proof

If you create a really great piece of value lead content, think about whether you could include some social proof in there. Similarly, if you’re sharing social proof, think about how you could make that piece of content valuable.

Your audience doesn’t want to constantly see raw social proof. As important as it is to share testimonials from your clients, that content still needs to be useful to your audience. Just a sprinkle of social proof on top of a value lead post can make it so much more impactful, make that message resonate more and build trust.

Steal our Content Inspiration System!

If all of the above sounds like a lot of work, you’re going to love what we have for you! 

You see, over the years, we’ve been looking for the perfect system to store all of our content ideas, social proof, UGC product links, photos, and everything else that we needed to make content creation easy. But we struggled to find something that did everything we wanted it to do. 

So, we created it ourselves. 

Are you ready to build your own Content Inspiration System so you can seamlessly organise everything you need to create an endless supply of content ideas for any business in any sector? Click here to find out exactly how you can do that.