One of the defining aspects of living in our modern, hyperconnected society is the increasingly omnipresent levels of passive influence we exert over each other at any given time. If you’ve ever seen a coworker enjoying a great takeout lunch or been recommended a new product or service by a trusted friend, you’ve experienced this phenomenon. As we collectively progress towards an accelerated and informationally-connected world we experience this feeling of social verification at an ever-increasing rate. Welcome to the concept of social proof.
Social Proof is the concept that individuals will conform to normative behavior based on societal validation. For example, the decision-making process during comparison shopping products and services is
increasingly dependent upon positive user ratings. This is especially interesting because it’s not necessary for the consumer to know the user for social proof to occur; there is an automatic assumption of trust inherent in the review or rating.
This type of consumer validation often referred to as “user social proof”, is an extraordinarily powerful social engine to drive leads and sales. According to yougov.com, “The majority of Americans rely on online reviews. 78% check out the review section before making a purchase and nearly half of Americans (44%) are active contributors, actively writing reviews if only occasionally. Americans rely heavily on online review ratings and comments despite believing that many ratings are untrustworthy.” This is an incredible statistic that dramatically underscores the power of social proof in product and services
ratings and reviews.
When designing a new website it is worth considering if integrating a rating system will be beneficial for your brand as a lever to increase social proof. A factor to consider is how many reviews you have: statistics show that proof increases as the total volume of reviews and ratings go up. If you only have a few reviews, attaching them to your site may create “negative social proof”, in which it appears few people are interested in your service or product. In this instance, it may be wise to refrain from attaching ratings and reviews to your site until you obtain a significant number.
There are several services that can do this for you, such as Yotpo, TrustPilot, BazaarVoice and a host of others ranging from simple API site integration to full multi-campaign level social positioning strategies.
These software services also have a considerable range in cost, so evaluating your ROI beforehand is an important component of selecting a service.
Regardless of the type of rating service you select and how you choose to implement it, there is no denying the power of leveraging social proof in your reviews and ratings as a strong tool in your online conversion funnel. At the end of the day, consumers trust other consumers' trust, and the value of that concept cannot be underestimated.
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