Online Reputation

What is Social Proof in Marketing and How Does it Work?

By December 9, 2022 No Comments

A cellphone showing a review summary on the screen with a 4.2 star rating

What is Social Proof in Marketing? Have you heard the term social proof but are not quite sure what exactly it means, or how it can help you improve your marketing strategy?

Marketing experts for years have found ways to use human emotions to better their strategies and grow business sales. After all, unless you have an extraterrestrial business structure, you’re going to be marketing to humans. So understanding how emotions play a role and how you can use psychology in your marketing can only benefit you in the long run.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a marketing expert to use social proof to your advantage. Business owners of any size can do it. So what exactly is social proof?



What is Social Proof in Marketing?

Graphic reading social proof in marketing with an image of a brain

Social proof in marketing refers to the psychological influence that others have on consumer behavior. It is the tendency that humans have to copy the actions of others. It’s kind of like a “if everyone else is doing it, I should too” mentality. Think about it, have you ever tried a restaurant solely because your friend said it was great? That is social proof!

It’s the same concept when you see a restaurant or a bar with a long line out front. Your mind is telling you “Wow that place is popular, I should try it!”. P.S. some clubs actually do this on purpose!

The social proof theory is that we look to others to decide what is correct behavior. So if you don’t know which restaurant to choose, and you see one with lots of customers and one that seems to be deserted, you’d most likely choose the more popular restaurant, based on others’ decisions.

It also plays a role when consumers look at business reviews. A business with lots of positive reviews tells your brain “oh that business must offer great service! That’s the correct decision.”

There are many examples of social proof in marketing that you can read more about HERE, but let’s get into why and how social proof works in marketing strategies.


Why Social Proof Works in Marketing

Why social proof works boils down to the human brain and the psychology behind it. You can read more about the theory HERE. But as a business owner or marketer, you may want a simple reason why social proof works in marketing and how it can help you boost your sales.

Having social proof builds trust and helps consumers make decisions. That’s as simple as it can get!

Let’s focus on business reviews as an example. Take a look at the image below. It shows two different fictional businesses and their online star rating and number of reviews. Which would you rather do business with?

Graphic showing two different business profiles and their online star ratings

The business on the left? Us too! Having a high star rating and multiple positive reviews psychologically tells us that we can trust this business because so many others do! And in turn, this helped you make the decision to choose the business on the left.

Now let’s get into the principles of the social proof theory to understand how it works.


How it Works: The Principles of the Social Proof Theory

Graphic listing the principles of the social proof theory

To effectively understand how social proof works in marketing, you need to take a look at the principles of the social proof theory. We’ve outlined some of them below.



We often look to others in times of uncertainty or when we don’t know what to do and need to make a decision. This is often paired with a sense of urgency.



Social proof can be very influential from authority figures or people who have more experience in a certain situation. For example, a celebrity or doctor endorsement or even an online review. We may trust an online review since that person has had an experience with the business we are interested in.



Our peers or people who we relate to or are similar to us in some way (maybe in age or location) have an impact on our decision-making. We’re likely to look to our peers to help us make choices.



We’re also likely to look to a trusted family member or friend, for example, a recommendation from a friend can influence us to try a new restaurant.



Numbers play a role as well. The more people agree in a certain situation, the more influential social proof can be. For example, if you see a business with 300 reviews and a business with 3 reviews, you’re more likely to trust the business with more reviews.


Read more about the social proof theory.


Types of Social Proof in Marketing

Types of social proof in marketing

So we’ve mentioned a couple of types of social proof in marketing so far, but now let’s get into some details.


1. Reviews/Comments

Having multiple positive reviews on popular sites like Google and Yelp, and even social media platforms helps your business build trust online. Comments on social media are also considered social proof.


2. Media Coverage

Media coverage such as a news segment or a mention in a popular online forum also acts as social proof in marketing. This coverage may come from an authority figure or simply a third party, as opposed to your business promoting itself. So it has a social influence on its viewers.


3. User-Generated Content

User-generated content is any content created by your customers/online audience. Reviews are a form of user-generated content, but there are many types such as social media posts. If you have a social media audience posting photos of your business, services, or products, this acts as social proof.


4. Awards/Accreditations

Having awards or accreditations show an expert or authority of some type has approved of your business. This is a powerful type of social proof that you can use in your marketing strategy to help your business build trust.


5. Data

As we mentioned above, numbers play a role in social proof, so any data you have can be used to your advantage. For example, if you have helped over 1000 people, you can use that data by saying in your campaigns “Join the 1000+ people who love our service”.


6. Celebrity/Authority Endorsements

Authority and expertise play a role in social proof, so having a celebrity endorsement lets people know they can trust your business. This can be a social media influencer, a celebrity related to your industry, or an expert recommendation such as a dentist recommending a toothpaste brand.


How to Use Social Proof in your Marketing Strategy

Man and woman sitting at a computer with 5 stars on the screen

There are many ways you can use social proof in marketing, but here are our top tips for business owners and marketers.


1. Get LOTS of Positive Reviews on Relevant Review Sites

Learn how to get more reviews on Google and how to get more reviews on Yelp.


2. Post your Best Reviews on your Social Media Channels

You can create stunning testimonial designs using these easy graphic design tools.


3. Collaborate with Influencers or Experts on Social Media

This usually involves paying a social media influencer (with financial compensation, free products, etc.) so they post about your business, services, or products, which can help more people discover your business.


4. Include Reviews on your Website

How to Embed a Google Review on your Website: There are plenty of plugins you can use to help you do this. For example, if you use WordPress, you can check out some of these Plugins HERE. Just make sure to do your research on which Plugin best suits your needs and is trustworthy.

How to Embed a Yelp Review on your Website:

  • Find the review you’d like to use (Make sure to find the review on
  • Hover your mouse over the Yelp review
  • Click on Embed Review and copy the code
  • Paste the code into your website


5. Include any Awards you Have on your Website

If your business has won any awards or if an expert if your industry endorses your service/product, make sure to include that information on your website.


6. Reach out to Local News Stations

You can build connections with local media and even pitch a story involving your business.


7. Create a Branded Hashtag

Branded hashtags are easy to make. You can use your business name or even a business slogan. For example, we use #adlersocial and #adlersocialmarketing for our branded hashtags.

Let your customers know about your branded hashtag and ask them to use it when posting social media content about your business. This creates the opportunity to get user-generated content and new people can easily see posts about your business by searching for that hashtag.


8. Repost User-Generated Social Media Posts

When your customers do post about your business on social media, share it on your own channels. (Just make sure to get permission).


9. Include Data and Numbers in your Marketing Campaigns

For example, instead of saying “You’ll love our product” try “Over 5000 happy customers love our product”.


Are you ready to use social proof to boost your business? If you’re still not quite sure how to grasp it or if you simply don’t have the time, we can help!

Let us Help!

One of the best ways to build social proof for your online marketing strategy is by getting positive reviews! We can help you do just that. We can help you get more positive reviews and create a social media marketing strategy with social proof best practices.

Learn more about us or book a FREE DEMO with our team.

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