It’s Friday night, and you’re hungry. Nine of ten restaurants are brimming with customers, while one remains empty. Do you take a cue from the masses, assume they know something you don’t, and hop in a line? This phenomenon is known as social proof, and it is a powerful selling tool.

According to Robert Cialdini, psychologist and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.” In our teenage days, we called this peer pressure. For marketing professionals, social proof is simply a reality of the business world—an acknowledgement that third-party influence sways potential customers. When we’re unsure how to act, we look around to see what people like us are doing, and the wisdom of the crowd prevails.

Researchers at Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park saw social proof in action when they placed this sign at the park entrance: “Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, changing the natural state of the Petrified Forest.” Stealing is bad, so don’t do it, right? Unfortunately, the sign sent a completely different message. New visitors actually felt more comfortable stealing, knowing others had been doing it, too. After the sign went up, theft jumped a staggering 300 percent!

“People don’t recognize how powerful the pull of the crowd is on them,” Cialdini told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s a fundamental cue as to what we should be doing.” While traditional campaigns focus on presenting information and hoping consumers take the desired action, many lack the magic ingredient: peer pressure. To truly propel conversion, brands need to show prospects what peers are saying.

Where to start? Check out Forbes’ “5 Forms of Social Proof that Can Instantly Improve Consumer Trust“:

1. Testimonials

Testimonials are like reviews, but with a few key differences. The main goal is the same: share a story from an actual customer to convince a prospective new customer to trust you. Testimonials, however, tend to be far longer, and they focus on the brand as a whole, rather than just one product or service. Generally, testimonials also tell a story, such as Zappos’ testimonials. If you’re just starting out, it may be hard to obtain some testimonials, but if you have a reliable customer base, all you have to do is ask.

2. Online reviews

One of the most straightforward ways to leverage social proof is through online reviews. People frequently consult online reviews before making a purchase, so offering some from your own customers—even if not all of them are perfect—is a good way to show that your brand is worth doing business with. Moreover, enabling customer reviews on your own site can have a positive effect on your company’s organic search rankings in search engines. But not all brands do this…

3. Trust badges

Trust badges are small icons you can include on your site if you’ve met some kind of criteria for trust with an organization. They’re small ways of communicating your experience and credentials with your customers, which is highly important if you don’t have any working rapport. You may have some trust badges related to your specific industry, such as some designating that you have some certification, but otherwise, there are some general options to pursue. According to Monetize Pros, some of the most valuable ones to features are for Norton, McAfee, Truste, and the Better Business Bureau.

4. Social media integrations

Here, the idea is to let your social media account—and your followers—do the talking for you as well as create a more engaging experience for social proof. It’s relatively easy to integrate one or more of your social media feeds into the design of your website; you can include a ‘best of” reel or just your most recent posts. Either way, it’s a way to spotlight your following and demonstrate that you post actively on social media and respond to your followers…

5. User-submitted content

Finally, you could rely on user-submitted content to do your brand’s work for it—and the sky’s the limit here. You could run a contest asking users to create images or videos related to your products, encourage your users to submit video reviews on your business, or just have fun with your followers using a specific hashtag or at a certain event. Almost anything can work if you follow the basic premise: get a ton of social users to submit content on your behalf, featuring your brand.

The bottom line is that social proof, in whatever form, should be a prominent feature of your marketing strategy. When a trusted source compliments your brand or when customers post selfies of themselves wearing your products, sprinkle that goodness throughout your website.

A social content marketing platform like TwineSocial makes quick work of this essential task. The Internet, as the ultimate social environment, already offers a wealth of user-generated-content relevant to your brand. Consumers place enormous value on these real-life endorsements, so don’t make the critical mistake of hiding social proof at the bottom of your landing pages. Be bold. Design for conversions!

TwineSocial clients can use UGC to lead consumers through the e-commerce process. From product discovery to checkout, UGC uses powerful visuals to send a subliminal message: people just like you are using this product, and you should, too. Behind the scenes, of course, clients filter, curate, and moderate UGC before publishing in shoppable galleries. The integration is seamless, with content and style matching the brand’s look and feel.

TwineSocial clients achieve killer results offline, too. Thanks to the content permissions module, you can unlock rights to valuable UGC—turning earned content into owned content. This means your brand’s social proof can be transferred to ad copy, live events, anywhere you need extra sway.

For the latest information, request a complimentary, potentially mind-blowing demo of TwineSocial. Our team of experts are eager to see you succeed.

For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 30-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!