Social proof

Social proof definition: How it works, types and benefits

What is social proof?

Termed by Robert Cialdini in 1984, social proof refers to a social and psychological phenomenon where people look to the actions and opinions of others to guide their own behaviour. Simply put, it means that if you see a group of people validating something, then you’re more likely to follow.

In the world of marketing and online interactions, social proof has become a cornerstone for building trust, influence and fostering positive relationships.

How does social proof work?

According to Gartner, social proof works on three fundamental principles:


Individuals often seek acceptance by conforming to the behaviours and choices of the majority, aiming to fit in with the crowd.


People are inclined to take actions that resonate with their values and beliefs, finding a sense of belonging and alignment in those choices.


Particularly in uncertain circumstances, individuals tend to rely on the opinions of others when making decisions, emphasising the role of trust in shaping their choices.

Types of social proof

In marketing, there are many types of social proofing strategies that you can use to encourage conformity, belonging and trust 👇

1 - Customer reviews and testimonials

Customer reviews and testimonials are among the most potent forms of social proof. When your potential customer sees positive feedback from current customers who’ve used a product or service, it instils confidence and reassures them about their potential purchase.

Conversely, negative reviews can serve as warnings and guide them away from potential surprises.

2 - User-generated content (UGC)

In the age of social media, user-generated content has gained tremendous significance. When individuals share their experiences with a brand through photos, videos or written posts, it not only showcases genuine engagement but also provides a real-life portrayal of the product or service.

This content serves as a visual form of social proof, influencing the opinions of those who come across it.

3 - Social media likes and shares

The number of likes, shares and comments on social media platforms serves as a visible metric of a brand's popularity and credibility.

Higher engagement rates indicate that the brand or content resonates with the audience, creating a sense of social validation that attracts others to join the conversation or explore the product or service.

4 - Influencer endorsements

Influencer marketing campaigns leverage the social proof created by individuals with a significant following. When an influencer endorses a product or service, their followers are more likely to trust and consider the recommendation, as they value the influencer's opinion and lifestyle choices.

5 - Expert endorsements and certifications

When a recognised expert or authority in a field endorses a product or service, it adds a layer of credibility.

Certifications and seals of approval from industry professionals or organisations serve as a form of social proof, signalling to consumers that the offering meets certain standards or quality criteria.

Benefits of social proof

There are many benefits to using social proof as a part of your marketing strategy. It:

1 - Builds customer trust

Trust is a fundamental component of any successful relationship, be it personal or professional. Social proof acts as a bridge, connecting your business with your audience by showcasing the positive experiences of others.

2 - Boosts conversion rates

The presence of social proof on product pages can significantly impact your conversion rates. When your prospective customers see other satisfied customers, they’re more likely to proceed with a purchase.

Whether in the form of ratings, positive reviews or testimonials, social proof helps overcome the hesitations that may arise during the decision-making process.

3 - Enhances brand credibility

Credibility is a key asset in the competitive business landscape. Social proof enhances your brand's credibility by providing tangible evidence of its value and reliability.

This credibility, once established, can lead to long-term customer loyalty.

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