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How to use social proof in your ads

Do you want to make people trust in your ads?

Show the customer that other people (maybe even a lot of them) love your product.

To start, let's analyse this ad together:

The theory behind social proof

Social proof is one of these terms that are thrown around a lot—therefore it's a big benefit to know the original theory behind the term.

Simply put social proof describes a phenomenon where we as human beings tend to copy the actions of others.

Especially when we don't know which behaviour is the "correct" or "best" one we tend to be persuaded by social proof—assuming that groups of other people have more information than we do ourselves.

For instance, if you're in the market for nutrient extractors but don't know which one to buy, it helps knowing that more than 24.000 people give the Nutribullet 5/5 stars. It makes it easy to copy their action.

It was the great Robert Cialdini who coined the term in his great book 'Influence' in 1984. Go read that if you haven't yet—the persuasion-techniques are worth gold if you apply them correctly.

Different types of social proof

We know that social proof is often very effective because of the nature of our species—that we as human beings tend to go with what others are doing just like a herd animal.

But there are multiple ways for your company to tell potential customers about how others have happily bought your products.

Here's some different types of social proof:

  • Reviews or ratings from customers

  • Number of customers

  • Testimonials from customers

  • Information about popularity

  • Seeing others using the product

Social proof can be used in multiple stages of your funnel - but it's often most effective for customers actively looking for this kind of product.

That's because of the nature of the theory - that we really get influenced by social proof when we don't know what action to take.

It's effective when we know we want to buy a mattress but isn't sure of which one to pick.

If a lot of other people are buying this mattress (and are very happy for it as Casper's analysis says) - then there's a great chance that we will like the mattress too.

Big numbers or a human approach

But social proof isn't all about having many customers. Even though it's great if your potential customer knows that you are very popular among a lot of people, a more human approach - especially on social media - can work great.

We tend to trust strangers more than companies we don't yet trust, and that's why it can work great too just to show single testimonials from customers.

There are two great ways of using testimonials that are easy to copy:

Either your customer can talk about how great using your product is (Dylan thinks the red product above is mind blown).

Or your customer can talk about what value they get from using the product (See what Vicki is saying further down).

Making your customer talk about the value that the product is providing you let the customer, in their own words, say to your potential customers what benefits they could get from the product.

Customer testimonials like these can even be used for your product development or marketing research in order to understand your customers better.

Notice how the two ads above tell who the customer is. There's a reason for that: The better you know the person giving the testimonial the more you trust it. Knowing that it's Dylan F. from New York City helps you relate to that person and automatically gives some credibility to the statement.

The best part about social proof is that you don't even need to use text or words to use the benefit of the theory. You can show it instead.

Having people using your product in your ads instantly makes us relate to how the person must feel when using the product.

Seeing other people using the product makes it clear for us that it's worth using - especially when there's multiple happy people using the product.

Mix this with some text about the social proof - in the right stage of your funnel - and you will have a very effective ad.

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