A strong online presence is crucial for any business. If they are e-commerce stores, then even more, as a simple click can take shoppers directly to you. Online is where all the action happens, quite literally. That is why social proof is one of the essential factors in driving sales, as it builds trust with potential customers and increases brand awareness.
Think about it like this: if word of mouth used to be the norm, now showing customers that other people have had a positive experience with your brand is key. Social proof is a form of social influence, and it's often used as a marketing tool to encourage customers to buy a product or use a service.
We tend to form our opinions based on the behaviour of people around us (and it can be people we don't even really know but follow on social media). When people see that their friends or people they admire are using certain products, they'll be more likely to check out the brand. It can be an influencer they find knowledgeable recommending a product or an anonymous YouTuber comparing the performance of two different cameras, for example.
And once potential customers look at the store, that little bit of social proof can be just the push they need actually to make a purchase, i.e., it can help increase conversion rates.
There are several ways to incorporate social proof into your e-commerce business. The most important thing is to be strategic about it and ensure you're using the right tactics for your industry.
One way to achieve this is by leveraging user-generated content (UGC). UGC is created by your customers, like reviews, testimonials, or social media posts. A good old example of social proof is customer reviews. As we've covered previously, reviews boost sales and are important even for SEO.
But when it comes to social media, TikTok is the newest player revolutionising UGC. The short-video format has taken the world by storm, and content posted on the platform usually gets republished on Instagram, Twitter and Meta.
It was content posted by makeup artists on TikTok that skyrocketed Charlotte Tilbury's sales. The brand's hashtag had over 130 million views in 2021. As a result, it was simply impossible to get your hands on the Hollywood Contour Wand - still out of stock in September 2022 in the UK.
The social platform strength is so powerful today that the hashtag TikTok Made Me Buy It is used in thousands of videos - with people showing water bottles, cleaning products, electronic gadgets. You name it, you will find it there. It is not exactly a surprise when the company expects to gather 1.8 billion active users by the end of 2022.
UGC is one of the most effective social proof nowadays, and brands can trigger conversations with promotions and marketing campaigns. Posting engaging content and using hashtags can help get your products in front of potential customers. That's what Olaplex has recently done. The haircare brand asked users to post Before-and-After videos of using their products, using the hashtag Olaflex. It worked; people tend to believe UGC way more than an advert. Research shows consumers are 2.4x more likely to say UGC is most authentic compared to branded content.
How to make people create UGC for your brand
1. Create a hashtag
2. Repost the content
3. Engage with your audience
4. Make it easy to participate
And respond to comments!
Although now it's TikTok's time, we've seen the same happening in the past on Meta and Instagram, where the influencer era boomed. Influencer marketing is still very much alive. It involves partnering with people who have a large following on social media or elsewhere online. They can promote your products to their audience, which can help increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your store. Influencer marketing is not out of reach - or budget. Although sisters Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner earn almost 1 million dollars per sponsored Instagram post, influencers with much fewer followers can drive sales when they have good engagement and, most importantly, are relevant to your audience. Sometimes all it takes is to repost a story on Instagram; users feel appreciated and can become brand ambassadors, gathering more customers to your store.
Finally, it's important to remember that social proof needs to be constantly cultivated. It's not something that you can create once and then drop the idea out. You must keep working at it to maintain its effectiveness.
Social proof is only going to become more crucial in the future. As social media usage continues to grow and people increasingly turn to online reviews and recommendations when making purchasing decisions, social proof will become increasingly essential for businesses that want to succeed online.
To stay ahead of the curve, businesses need to start thinking about how to incorporate social proof into their marketing and sales strategies. Used smartly, it can undoubtedly influence customers to make an educated decision. Social proof can help at any stage of a customer's journey.
By doing this, businesses will be able to build trust with potential customers, increase brand awareness, and drive sales. So, if you're not already using social proof in your e-commerce business, now is the time to start.