How This Powerful Marketing Concept Grows Brand Awareness
In 2017, Hubspot published a report to understand the main marketing challenges that companies face. It’s no surprise that 63% of companies revealed that their biggest challenge is generating enough traffic and leads. Why?
Today, the fight for a consumer’s attention has never been harder. Each day, 500 million Tweets are sent out and 95 million photos are posted on Instagram. More frighteningly, digital marketing experts estimate that the average person is exposed to roughly 4,000–10,000 ads a day. This is the reality that modern brands now face.
That’s why not having to rely solely on paid advertising and finding ways to connect with potential customers in a meaningful way can be much more powerful. This is where the concept of social proof and “word of mouth” comes in.
“Social proof is an informational influence and can lead to herd behavior. Research suggests that receiving information about how others behave (social proof) leads to greater compliance among people.” — Cialdini et al., 1999
Why is social proof important?
The main reason why social proof is so interesting is that people are more likely to follow the actions of others, and importantly, trust in their choices. As a company, this is can be used as an extremely effective marketing tool in order to grow brand awareness, sales, and leads.
In a recent study on the effects of social proof and social media shopping, researchers conducted an experiment to test how it influences consumer purchasing intention. Participants were shown different versions of a fictitious cellphone company on Instagram and were told to imagine that they needed to buy a smartphone. Interestingly, the group that was shown the version with friends or recognized community endorsing the fake company, was the group with the highest purchasing intent.
The researchers concluded that:
“Social community recommendations does indeed impact a buyers’ intention to buy.”
As a new business owner, one of my biggest challenges is having little to no marketing budget. Spending money on Google or Facebook ads is simply not something we can afford right now, which means we have had to figure out extremely lean marketing strategies to grow our customer base.
One of the best pieces of marketing advice I have heard so far comes from Alexa Von Tobel, CEO of LearnVest. She says:
“In the beginning, you don’t wanna be doing a lot of marketing, you really want to be talking to customers. Your best way to grow your user base is to get your customers to share and refer.”
Here are some ways we have used social proof in our marketing strategy:
Share user-generated content
User-generated content is especially powerful in turning browsers into buyers. A survey revealed that 41% of marketers agreed that engagement as a KPI increased the most as a result of UGC, whilst also impacting other KPIs, such as revenue, leads, impressions, and more.
A few great ways you can create user-generated content includes:
- Encouraging users to use a branded hashtag
- Re-posting your users’ social media posts
- Running a hashtag contest by getting users to tag and share a photo in order to win something
Work with influencers in your niche
Working with influencers in your niche is probably one of the easiest ways you can build brand awareness.
If you have a low marketing budget, consider sending free products to micro-influencers (500 to 10,000 followers) so they can share it with their community. This can quite simply be done by directly messaging the influencer.
Usually, you wouldn't need to ask micro-influencers to make a post on their feed or story, as that can seem too forward. By offering a free product, it is already implied that you’d like to see them make a post of some sort, which they’ll usually do if they like your product. It is important here to focus on creating genuine relationships.
If you have a larger marketing budget, consider working with macro-influencers (10,000 to 1 million followers). Often, this will require you to pay them and is more of a business transaction, but it means you would have more access to their account data, i.e. their content insights.
Sometimes you may find that sending macro-influencers free products instead of paying them can work as a strategy too, but to pull this off, the product has to be extremely aligned with their beliefs and provide a lot of value to them.
In both cases, particularly if you’re entering into a business agreement with an influencer, it is important to check the following:
- Engagement rate: you want to see that their followers are engaging with their content, usually it is best to work with influencers who have a 2–3% engagement rate.
- Type of content: make sure that the content they are posting aligns with your niche. If they’re a health influencer and you have a jewelry product, this may not be the best fit.
- Quality of followers: unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to buy followers these days. You want to make sure you’re working with an influencer who has built an organic following. Usually, you can figure this out by looking at the type of interactions they have on their posts.
Highlight customer reviews
Make sure to make the most out of your customer reviews, there’s no use getting reviews if no one else is going to see them. According to Podium, 93% of consumers say that online reviews have an impact on their purchasing decision, and 63% say that they would be willing to pay 15% more for the same product if assured they’ll have a better service.
A few ways you can highlight customer reviews include:
- Turning reviews into social media content
- Joining a review site like Trustpilot and adding a widget to your website
- If you’re running ads, add reviews to your ad copy
The concept of social proof can be incredibly understated, but it is extremely powerful. By understanding and leveraging it, you can grow your brand’s awareness exponentially thanks to the power of “word of mouth”. In an increasingly noisy digital space, this strategy can help draw out valuable customers and creates a much more meaningful way to generate leads and sales.
So go ahead, give some of these strategies a go and watch your engagement rate, leads and sales grow!