Personal Development

Social Proof 101: 6 Actionable Ways to Increase Conversions on Your Site Using Social Proofing

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, trust plays an important role in how customers perceive your business and whether or not they buy from you.

The psychological phenomenon known as “social proof” is what you should consider implementing more of into your business. It will allow you to borrow the authority and trust of other people and build trust with your customers.

There are many ways to implement social proof into your website, I’m going to provide 6 actionable ways to increase conversions with social proofing.

What is social proof?

Social proof is showing a potential customer the behaviour or actions of someone they trust in hopes that they make the same choices. In other words, people are more likely to make a decision based on whether or not someone they trust has made that same decision as well, and whether or not that decision was a correct one.

The decisions we care about as marketers and business owners are buying decisions. For example, if my friend goes out and buys an Apple TV and loves it, I’m now more likely to buy one myself.

We can build similar social proof into our websites by borrowing the trust of other customers, celebrities and influencers. For example, when LKR Social Media showed the number of total email subscribers on their homepage, they saw an increases in nearly 25% more email signups.

1. Show off your social numbers

Share counts and number of followers is a great and easy way to build in more social proofing on your website. It’s also probably one of the easier ways to start showing off some social proof on your website.

You can use a tool like SumoMe to display your social share counts like the Shopify blog does:


You can also embed your Facebook page or Twitter profile onto your website to show visitors the amount of users liking your page and following your account.

2. Include testimonials and reviews

You and I both know that the first thing we do when we’re about to buy something online is scroll down to the reviews and read them. They help us learn more about the product we’re about to purchase but they also provide social proof that other people like us have purchased and are using this product.

The earlier you begin asking your customers for reviews and testimonials, the better. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a service, product or if you’re freelancing. Include an area on your website or product pages for reviews.


3. Include their friends

The method of social proofing is a little more trickier to implement but it’s extremely effective and we often see it used most in Google’s Play Store and the Apple App Store. When browsing apps, you’ll often see recommendations from friends or small snippets letting you know that someone on your contact list has also installed the app.

Whenever there’s an opportunity to allow your users or customers to see that their friends have already visited, purchased or used your site/product, do it. It’s a very powerful way to demonstrate social proof.

Here’s another example of how Steam (a platform to buy and play video games) uses friends lists to tell you how many friends own a game you’re thinking about buying.


4. Show ratings, awards and logos

Borrow the trust from known and respected authorities by displaying their logos, ratings and awards on your website. Even I do this on this site!

Here’s how HelpScout does it by showing off the big-name customers that use their customer support product:


Of course, you want to ensure you ask for permission before doing this and ensure you’re not suggesting endorsement from these brands.

5. Show live purchases as they happen

This is one of my favorite ways to demonstrate social proof on my ecommerce websites. Essentially, you’re showing the most recent purchases as they happen on your website, or the most recent purchases.


With Shopify, you can do this using Notify. Notify will allow you to display purchases as they happen, and the most recent purchases of the past few days, as a popup.

Not only does this provide social proof (“hey look, other people are buying things on our website!”) but it also creates a sense of scarcity. It can cause your customers to feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t act fast enough.

6. Show photos of customers, celebrities and influencers using your product

It’s great that you can talk about customers or big brands that use your product, but why not show your product in action, actually being used by a real customer?

Use social media and your website to show-off this valuable user-generated content. Encourage your customers to send you photos of themselves using your product or service. Sweeten the deal by promising a coupon or free gift to those that follow-through, as a little incentive to ensure you get a lot of photos.


No social proof is better than low social proof

However, you’re better off not having any social proofing built into your website if your numbers are low. For example, having only 30 people on your email list and mentioning it as a way to try to build trust can potentially hurt you more than help you.

For example, in a 1968 social psychology study done by Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman and Lawrence Berkowitz, one man was put on a street corner looking up at an empty sky for 60 seconds. A small amount of passing pedestrians stopped to look up. However, when 5 men looking up were placed on the same street corner and looked up again for 60 seconds, 4 times as many passing pedestrians stopped and looked up as well.

Numbers affect how well social proof performs.

Your Turn

Now that you know what social proofing is and understand how effective it can be, start using it!

I recommend you start asking for customers to provide you with testimonials or reviews. I’d also look through your previous customers and see if you can find any big brands, influencers or businesses using your product/service.

Lastly, these are only some of the ways you can begin implementing social proof. Remember that the concept is you want to demonstrate to potential customers that your trustworthy and other people have used and enjoyed your product/service.

Questions or comments? Leave it below. I engage with and respond to everyone.

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Corey Ferreira
I'm a passionate entrepreneur on the marketing team at Shopify. Since 2008, I've been an online entrepreneur and Embolden is where I muse on marketing, productivity, psychology, and business.
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