Digital marketing is all about making one’s presence impactful on social media platforms. In contemporary times, influencing and directing consumer behavior profitably for one’s own end goals is the key to marketing oneself well on any social media network, including Instagram.
An essential part of this ability is to have social and psychological influencing power over a large audience. Being able to do this brings enormous benefits to the IG account holder. Instagram today has over a billion active users. To exercise psychological influence over a target audience in this user pool, you are required to establish many micro-goals. You will also need some meticulous pre-planning and research.
Often, to gain social proof in the shortest possible time, IG users invest in paid social signals. You can buy Instagram followers and social engagement like likes, saves, and shares to leverage app algorithm and psychological effect of social proof to grow your account fast.
However, beside that you should build a solid organic social presence to retain that followers and engagements, so that the benefits of such investments last long-term.
What Is Social Proof?
Let’s start by understanding what the term social proof means. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon used extensively in both online and offline marketing strategies. Robert Cialdini first used the term in his book “Influence” published in 1984. Cialdini saw social proof as one of the six major principles of persuasion operative in human society. People tend to believe in things that already have a large number of believers. For instance, if a product has 10 customer ratings of 2 stars and 2 customer ratings of 5 stars, a store visitor will tend to believe the review of the 10 customers who gave a 2-star rating as a more authentic review of the product.
Consider another example. You may be more inclined to buy a soap endorsed by your favorite star than a soap supported by a scientist you do not know. In this case, the endorser’s popularity and reputation influence your purchasing decisions rather than, say, the price, ingredients in the soap, or even the knowledgeability quotient of the endorser regarding the soap. Sometimes, the term social proof is also interchangeably used as social influence. When one tends to do something simply because everyone else is doing it, that too is social proof, and the specified behavior is referred to as herd behavior. Likewise, it is called herd mentality when one assumes the quality of something or forms an opinion about it based on what others are doing.
When it comes to platforms like Instagram, social proof is used by businesses to draw target audiences into a herd behavior that is profitable to them. At the same time, the covert idea is to draw away the target audience from forming favorable sentiment towards one’s competitors.
When Is Social Proof Beneficial to Your Marketing Strategy?
As social proof works on the principle of convincing the audience based on what others do or say, it can be used positively and negatively. Concerning brand building, an established and ever-strengthening social proof is essential for businesses of all industries. Whether you are a B2B or B2C, small retailer, or established chain of stores, social proof is vital for boosting sales and conversions.
Social proof can work as a good thing for your business on Instagram when you can:
- Use experts from the industry or specialists with the know-how to provide product endorsement.
- Use influencers who have built trust and reliability with their audience as they are likely to help develop a strong positive brand image for you.
- Become a brand that is endorsed as authentic and approachable by real-time partners and customers.
- Implement creative marketing strategies that convince a visitor that you are the best in your niche.
What Forms of Social Proof Can You Use on Instagram?
Being able to use persuasive marketing techniques is an art. The following six traditional ways of building social proof also find widespread presence in Instagram marketing:
- Expert Opinion: When an industry expert recommends your brand and its services, you can build solid social proof among allied industries and customers.
- Celebrity Opinion: Endorsements by celebrities can often convince fans to try out certain products and services.
- Genuine User Opinion: Feedback and positive reviews by real customers and clients can help you gain trust and popularity among members of your target audience. Testimonials, Ratings, and Reviews are crucial for any business to grow and achieve better sales and conversions.
- Mass Opinion: Often, social media users tend to follow what is trending. So, if your products and services are the “in thing”, they are likely to draw more people into trying them out.
- Certificates: Having accreditation from established industry evaluators can help create favorable public opinion about your business. These include social media verifications as well. Not only do sites like Instagram offer verification of your business, but some sites also let you authenticate testimonials and reviews.
How Can These Forms of Social Proof Give Your Marketing a Boost?
Social Proof in all its forms can boost your marketing in several ways. Here is a list of some of the ways it aids your business in building a successful Instagram presence:
When in collaboration
Whenever you create posts in collaboration, the post’s reach widens to include your collaborators’ followers and target audience. Posit endorsement from the collaborators can help in turning this audience pool into your active and loyal followers. You may even see direct sales here. You can see this effect when you:
- Invite industry experts to make informative content.
- Use influencers for positive brand presence.
- Get celebrities to mention or use your services.
- Join with others to sponsor social events.
- Run fundraisers for important causes.
- Create live events like interviews with popular heroes, thought leaders, and local leaders.
- Create how-to videos and video series.
When your posts are interactive
Ensure your posts spoken for by others also have high interactive content to allow users to be an organic part. Some ways of this are:
- Adding polls and surveys to your Stories.
- Creating CTA posts inviting tags, likes and saves, and shares.
- Making shoppable posts.
- Creating contests and giveaways.
These types of posts bring very high genuine engagement. You and your endorser enjoy the benefits of increased reach and visibility from the boost received.
When you tell stories that soft sell
Create posts that focus on building consumer relations that can convert to increased sales and conversions instead of just selling your services. Some publications that are of this nature:
- Stories about the business background.
- Insider view of your business.
- Posts and Stories that highlight workplace culture.
- Videos and live sessions on business-related informational content.
- Appreciation posts.
Such posts bring an increased engagement by creating genuine interest apart from favorable public opinion about your venture.
When you create posts celebrating milestones
One thing that creates excellent social proof is enormous numbers of likes, posts, follower count, and shares. Creating posts celebrating your community and your followers on the successful reaching of certain milestones in your Instagram journey makes them aware of how strong and widespread your active fans on Instagram are. Celebrate anniversaries to show how long you have been in the scene. These are cost-efficient means of strengthening your social proof and simultaneously increasing your engagement metrics as they make visitors aware of:
- Your loyal audience size.
- Your industry experience in years.
- Your credibility and authenticity.
When you get a site verification
Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can attest or “verify” the authenticity of your account. When you apply for this and get approved, your bio gets a blue checkmark. A certified social proof provided by Instagram is usually only available to the top account holders like celebrities, icons, public figures, and major brands. A verified page thus brings you:
- Immense credibility and respect.
- Access to features available exclusively for verified accounts.
- Strong visibility on search results.
When You Get Your Friends to Be Your Social Proof:
The common word-of-mouth technique of passing news or ideas also works on social media. When friends and known users favor a brand or its services, indirect advertising builds up goodwill and customer preference for your business. Ask your active followers and friends to like, share, and repost your content not just on Instagram but on any other social sites they may be engaged in. Even a casual reference to you or a tertiary mention can bring the audience’s attention to your business and Instagram page. Several IG users also pay for this kind of advertising if they have the budget.
When you can create a trend
A post that becomes popular also brings its creator’s immediate fame. Consider creating reels, videos, and contests that are most likely to grab the fleeting attention of your target audience. Aim to create trending posts, and you will find yourself gathering mass social proof that:
- Keeps your post content high up on search results.
- Brand identification.
- Brings a higher number of first-time visitors to your IG account.
- Gives you a higher conversion, reach, and impression.
Trending posts are easy to craft if you have a keen understanding of your target audience’s online behavioral tendencies. Sometimes a trending post can also suddenly go viral. If your post goes viral, you will see your engagement metrics catapult as well! However, viral posts are challenging to manually create unless you have great luck or a big budget to make it happen, apart from a firm understanding of Instagram audience behavior. That said, a little research and effort can help you create viral content.
When you have a great response rate
A sure and successful means of persuading public opinion in favor of you is always there for the public. Humanize your brand by being courteous and readily available for customer assistance. Be quick in your response time and engage with your active audience. Building user social proof by acing your social interactions is a sure way to grow your account organically. Being highly responsive brings favorable user opinion for your business and this in term boosts your account’s brand image and credibility.
When your account gets high review ratings
Another great social proof builder is getting featured in blogs and write-ups that give you a score. For instance, if you are an independent cake maker, getting featured in articles like “Top Places to Buy your Wedding Cake in XYZ location” or “5 Best Birthday Cake Makers Near You” will bring you the credit and trust you are looking for. Where you get featured or who writes about you will also add trust and value to your company. This type of social proof helps:
- Those who are skeptical about user opinions and are looking for broader reviews.
- People on the lookout for novel businesses in a particular industry.
- Those looking for in-depth knowledge-based analysis of what you offer as a business.
Creating social proof is an art. It is one of the most powerful ways of growing your business and trust in the community. How you use Instagram’s social influence should go hand-in-hand with your overall marketing strategy online and offline. Whether you use micro influencing tactics or mass persuasion, it is good to create social proof aimed at a broader target range. Include not just your potential followers but also your industry and allied business communities. You must also devise foolproof strategies to maintain and strengthen the social proof already created in your favor by real users or by paid partners.
Harnessing audience attention is not easy on a site like Instagram. It is more challenging to retain the target audience’s attention. However, with the right marketing strategies, you can give your business the best types of social proof. That will bring the right audience to your content. If you can connect with your target audience, you are sure to see an organic boost in your follower count and your engagement rate. With this, you will have an increase in your visibility, impression, and reach. In other words, a good tactic of boosting social proof is to bring your business into this circular frame of events that trigger the platform’s algorithms to your benefit.
Focusing on building social proof in your marketing strategy might be the change your business needed in its micro-goals to bring your brand success while building itself up on Instagram.