There must be something to the idea of “the wisdom of crowds,” because people tend to want to go where other people are. “Social proof” is a marketing buzzword that is based on the idea that people tend to seek out experiences that have already been “proven” to be popular.  

In marketing, social proof can be used in a number of ways. By showing people the “proof” that other people have already “tried it” and liked something through channels such as social mediaothers are more likely to purchase or try it out. Although most people like to claim to be bold individualists who make their own choices and follow their own instincts, the truth is that most people don’t like to be early adopters. Instead, most people like to follow in the footsteps of other people who have already had a positive experience with whatever the “new thing” may be.  

Here are a few examples of social proof in marketing:  

  • McDonald’s posts signs outside its restaurants saying, “billions and billions served.”  
  • Micro-influencers and celebrities sharing on social media that they “absolutely love” a product and are willing to give you a special percent off if you use their discount code. 
  • Customer reviews off Amazon or Google showcasing your ‘out of 5 stars’ rating, or even direct customer quotes displayed on a customer views page on your website. 
  • Sharing direct customer content. This could be retweeting customers on Twitter or sharing customer photos on the company Instagram. 

How can you adapt the concept of social proof to help with your digital events?  

Here are a few different types of social proof that might apply to your next digital event promotions:  

Expert social proof: Find influential people or influencers in your industry who can help refer people to your digital event. Who are the bloggers, thought leaders, authors and experts, who are the widely followed people in your industry who might agree to help promote your digital event?  

User social proof: Within your digital event, look for ways to create the effect of “customer testimonials.” Show which presentations are the most popular. Show the feedback from last year’s event so your attendees know which presentersseminars or workshops got the highest reviews. Invite your attendees to share user-generated videos or testimonials about what they got out of the event and share this “user social proof” to help promote your next digital event.  

Wisdom of crowds social proof: Use instant polling and voting tools from your digital events platform (like the Mood-o-meter from Social27to take the pulse of your audience and figure out how they’re responding to each stage of the digital event. Can you create an air of exclusivity to your digital event by offering an exclusive sign-up period or time sensitive discount, or introduce a new product for testing/trial by invitation only to a select audience at the digital event?  

Wisdom of friends’ social proof: How can you get customers, colleagues and partners to recommend your digital event to their friends? The best way to market your digital event is not to buy advertising – it’s to ask your friends and online community to spread the word about you. Your friends can be your best sales force – and their friends might be your most likely future customers. 

Join the conversation. Agree with me? Good. Disagree? Even Better! Tell me why… 

How do you know who to trust when you’re deciding whether to buy something online, or get involved with an online activity? What is the best use of “social proof marketing” that you’ve seen – whether for digital events or another type of product?  

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