Social Proof?

How to add social proof to your website

What is social proof, examples, a focus on the testimonial, and a new and clever way of implementing it on your site in minutes, that you can get done today.

What is Social Proof

Even if you can’t define it you certainly know what it looks like as you see it everyday.

Lets start with the technical definition and move to the practical.

From wikipedia

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.

Psycholohist Robert Cialdini describes it as

the tendency to see an action as more appropriate when others are doing it.

For the the modern digital marketer I think its as simple as you want your user to do something — buy, give you their email, follow you on FB, whatever — and social proof will help you achieve that goal.

CLICK HERE to download this post as a PDF for reference later!

Examples of Social Proof

In the digital context social proof can take the form of testimonials, ratings and reviews, badges, logos, subscriber counts, social numbers and more.

Social Proof Social Shares

In the above example, the website is placing the number of shares for a particular article front and center – offering it as social proof that the site is legitimate and worthwhile.

Below, Amazon product reviews are providing consumers with immediate social proof of the quality and specifications of products.


Check out how this next website’s homepage doubles up on social proof, using a subscriber count and client logos.

social proof logos

Ok now that we have seen a few examples permit me to layer on top of the visual with some principles from Cialdini. His research on this is powerful.

Cialdinis Principles of Social Influence

Social Proof The Basics

  • A means to determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct
  • View behavior as more correct in a given context to the degree we see others performing it
  • Principle can be used to stimulate a person’s compliance by informing the individual that many other individuals have been complying (unanimous compliance and compliance by famous or authoritative people is most effective)
  • Provides us with a shortcut for determining how to behave – while at the same time, makes one vulnerable to persuasion experts

Social Proof How It’s Exploited

  • The Bandwagon effect – everyone who is anyone is doing it, why not YOU?
  • The “In Crowd” has it right, do you want them to accept you or not? So act like them.
  • As described by C. S. Lewis in “The Inner Ring” (Chp. 12 Lucifer Effect), the power of social proof flows from a combination of our desire to be part of the special inner circle and the social manipulators who recognize this need and try to lure us into false inner circles that exploit us.

… wait a minute, I was just trying to add in a testimonial, nobody said anything about exploitation.

Testimonial Social Proof

The Evolution of Testimonials

The exploitation argument aside, psychology is in play with social proof, and perhaps nowhere as effectively as the testimonial.

Testimonials themselves can take various different forms; simple text, text and photos, text and audio, and video to name a few.

Their format continues to evolve but I think this quote from Andy Crestodina captures the important bit

When you say it its marketing, when you customer says it, it’s social proof

And its powerful.

Couple this power with the fact that traditional, authentic testimonials are difficult to get, especially the kind that come complete with permission and a photo.

Put all of that together and it becomes downright difficult to do which is why this next little hack is so clever.

Embed Tweets

Yep. Its that simple. Awhile back twitter made it possible to embed tweets. It takes about two seconds, you copy the code, and you paste it on your site.

Why this is awesome

  • It almost always includes a photo or avatar
  • It’s real users using real words
  • It’s publicly available and verifiable as authentic (just click-through to view the user’s profile if you have any doubts)
  • If your business has been active for awhile, you probably have some of them already waiting for you.

Sold? Lets learn how.

How to embed tweets on your website

Here’s the code snippet I mention in the video:

data-conversation=”none” data-cards=”hidden” align=”center”

Instant Download .pdf + transcription

Prefer to read this offline? CLICK HERE to download this blog post as a PDF. Plus: Get the transcription of our screencast video on Embedding Tweets.

CLICK HERE to download this post as a PDF for reference later!

Or, to view a web version of the transcription, see below:

Wrapping things up

By now I hope it’s clear: you need social proof all over your website.

Are you a print studio?

I would print with them!

Are you an artist/photographer?

You are thinking about checking that book out now right?

Testimonials just like these might just be waiting for you in your twitter feed.

Questions or comments please leave one. If you get stuck or need help I’d be happy to take a look for you.

CLICK HERE to download this post as a PDF. BONUS: The audio transcription from our “Embedding Tweets” video

Leave a Comment:

Case Study #01 - Testimonials Increase Conversion Rates says

[…] have blogged here about the case for testimonials / social proof […]

Anatomy of a Successful Artist’s Home Page — Art Storefronts Blog says

[…] Social proof is a great way to share the stories of happy customers. I love seeing that there is activity on your site and people have recently purchased artwork. Very classy.   […]

3 Simple Copywriting Tips You Can Implement Today To Sell More Art Online - Art Storefronts Blog says

[…] your web copy to start getting more client inquiries and sales, such as using proof elements like testimonials and reviews; writing strong benefit-driven headlines; addressing buyer objections; removing risk with a strong […]

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