How often do you ask a friend or relative what their experience has been with a certain product or service before making a purchase decision? How many times have you seen people queuing for a busy restaurant while another sits empty next door?
Whether we realize it or not, we seek reassurance from others before making a wide range of our day-to-day decisions, and in the digital world, people now have more resources than ever to get such reviews and reassurance from.
Apps like Zomato, Tripadvisor, Uber, and Airbnb are just some of the many applications which people refer to before making any decisions, and their popularity underlines the changing way in which such information is sought. In fact, research shows that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. In this new reality, it's critical for brands to provide social proof within the online space in order to maximize their opportunities.
We've all seen the typical Verimark commercials showing just how effective their products are - whether it's a cleaning product or a weight loss gimmick, their advertisements all promise excellence. But in the modern consumer process, brands speaking about themselves and paying actors to act as happy consumers in their commercials isn't enough. Consumers are more demanding and smarter than ever before - brands either need to gain authentic social proof or be prepared to get left behind.
So how can brands gain social proof?
At the end of the day, that packed restaurant people are queuing for didn't get popular by the owners talking about the quality of their food - the restaurant's full because other people raved about it and maybe even rated it 5 stars on a food application.
The following pyramid chart taken from this article on Social Media Today, explains the common steps to brands getting other people to talk about them online, ultimately achieving social proof/popularity in the market.
Essentially, gaining popularity or social proof in the market involves getting other people/consumers to speak about your brand, and one of the most successful ways to achieve this is through influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing involves leveraging an influencer's ability to sway or impact the purchasing decisions of consumers.Through influencers reviewing products on their social channels, or simply using your products, they enable brands to connect with their target audiences. Influencers are able to get a brand's message across in a more authentic way and ultimately spark conversations around your brand.
And because influencers are seen as credible sources to their audiences you gain social proof as soon as they mention your business.
The New Reality
However you look at it, the consumer discovery and purchase process has changed. In this new scenario, it's more important than ever to generate positive word-of-mouth and find ways to help spread your brand message through online networks as a means of providing social proof.
Influencer marketing can be a great way to achieve this, and it's worth considering how influencers within your target market could help boost your brand message.