May 7, 2020

what is social poof influence persuasion

What if I told you that there is a way to use human psychology to boost conversion rates, increase sign-ups, sell more, lower cart abandonment for your business, website, store, blog or eCommerce shop?

Here comes Social Proof. 

Social Proof is powerful. 

It's affordable and easy-to-use. 

Social Proof works! 

If you are looking for ways to influence your audience in taking actions like subscribing, downloading, booking, boosting sales, commenting, buying more frequently... Social Proof is a great marketing tool to achieve success.

“When you say it, it’s marketing. When your customer says it, it’s social proof.” Andy Crestodina

After reading this post you will know what is Social Proof and why it is so important. 

You will also know if you need it, and take appropriate action. 

A lot of people are now using Social Proof notifications software on their website. 



  • Everybody is a consumer (and I mean everybody.)
  • We all buy stuff or services. 
  • More and more people are buying stuff online. 
  • We listen to other people who talk about a product, more than the person selling the product.
  • We trust the opinion of our peers more than the sales pitch of marketers. 

So why not leverage other people to sell for us?

This article will teach you:

  1. What Social Proof really is
  2. Who can use Social Proof (on websites, blogs and eCommerce platforms)
  3. Industries that Social Proof is good for
  4. The features and functions of Social Proof software

What is Social Proof? A Definition

The concept of Social Proof has been coined by the Professor of psychology Robert Ciadini in his book Influence.

Human beings have evolved in dangerous environments. Our sole guarantee of survival was to be part of a tribe. More group-thinking meant higher survival rates and stronger harmony within the tribe. 

Social Proof refers to the tendency that we have to look at others to know what the proper behavior is in a given situation; and that we tend to mimic the behavior of people we consider to have common points with, due to our innate need to be part of a group, herd or tribe. 

Still with us?

We are fundamentally tribal, group-thinking Social Beings, which means that others have a Social Influence upon us and vice versa.

This influence explains why we tend to mimic and copycat the behavior of people we believe to be just like us.

As we are Emotional Beings, and evolved in a dangerous world, when shopping on eCommerce stores and visiting websites, before we take actions like subscribing, buying or joining something, we all feel some degrees of uncertainty, anxiety, friction, security concerns, trust issues, fear-of-missing out, decision paralysis, doubt, negativity bias and so on.

Keyword here is: emotions. 

The role of Social Proof is to reduce the amount of negative emotions by using different tactics based on human psychology. 

In a certain way, we are what other people think of us, and they are what we think of them.

In other words, if someone else has done something, like wearing a certain type of makeup or acting in a certain manner, we are more likely to reproduce the same action. If we can identify with that person, the chances that we replicate the behavior are even higher.

Cialdini says “that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.” (Lun et al. in Cialdini, 2009, Kindle Locations 2396-2398).

social proof influence book robert cialdini

In other words, we look at others as a reference for our behavior, and that includes buying stuff. 

A more formal definition of “Social Proof“:

“Social Proof is the phenomenon of people mimicking the behavior and actions of others. Social Proof is achieved by using the psychological and social influence that others have on us, leveraging human nature’s tendency for tribal behavior, the search for shortcuts and avoidance of uncertainty.”

Social Proof lowers our anxiety when making a purchase or subscribing to something: 

  • Can I trust this company?
  • Am I buying the right thing?
  • Will I lose my money?
  • Is the thing reliable?
  • Is the seller trustworthy?
  • Is it safe to buy on this platform? 

No matter what prospects believe when they want to purchase something, the opinion of others always matters, whether it is consciously or subconsciously. 

This is a golden opportunity for marketers. Still with us?

We are Social Beings

When we buy something, we go through different phases, we evaluate the product or service, we do some research, we read reviews and testimonials… to remove doubts and be sure that we are buying the right service or product. 

Some people will even ask a friend, colleague or family member for advice before making a purchase.

Ee are Social Beings. 

Being with others, getting approval from others, looking for answers within our tribe, our peers, our herd… is part of our innate psychology as you can see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 

Social Proof influences our purchasing behavior. 

Social Proof hooks us on the emotional level. 

Big time.

Social Proof's Mechanism of Action

Social Proof software come in handy for marketers, website owners and eCommerce store operators as it helps reduce all the negative emotions and the barriers to action. 

Social Proof notifications catch the attention of website visitors. 

Social Proof shortcuts the decision-making process of the prospect.

Social Proof humanizes and socializes the conversion process. 


Social Proof validates the value of a product or service by showing that other people, just like us, bought the said service or product. 

Makes sense?

Social Proof is more than just a concept, Social Proof software are strong marketing tools that help you boost conversions and sell more products and services. 

Social recommendation is used by plenty of companies out there, the best examples are of course social media like Facebook (21 people liked your picture) and LinkedIn (Mr.Smith has looked at your profile.)

Ever booked a room online (I am sure you had a look at the User Generate Reviews)?

Buy something on Amazon? Look at the stars rating. 

Social Proof is especially useful for marketers, entrepreneurs and sellers who want to influence customers’ purchasing behavior and shorten the consumer journey from prospect to buyer. 

If you are a Digital Marketer, Social recommendation as an influencing marketing strategy is an absolute must in your toolbox. 

In the past few years, Social Proof softwares have been used increasingly on websites and eCommerce stores.

The Social Proof software use pop-ups that appear on the website, showcasing actions that other visitors have taken, testimonials and relevant data about the service or product.

 You may have seen Social Proof on websites you visited yourself… and it surely did pick your curiosity. If may even have influenced you, even if you are not willing to admit it, or even conscious about it. 

One of the most famous is Proof, but we enjoy ProveSource the most and FOMO for eCommerce.


Who should use Social Proof?

If you sell products or services online, you should consider using Social Proof. 

If you are a marketer, an entrepreneur or a business owner, you should definitively use Social Proof. 

Social Proof Softwares can be used by people who handle many different types of online AND offline businesses: 

  • eCommerce store
  • Courses
  • Travel
  • Hotel
  • EBooks
  • Agency
  • Consultants
  • Coaching
  • Education
  • Sales Funnels
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Dropshipping
  • Webinars
  • Money investment
  • Real Estate
  • Trainers
  • Health and Fitness
  • Nutrition and Weight
  • Relationships Coach
  • Offline businesses like construction, dentist, trainer, lawyer, restaurant, etc.
  • …and the list goes on and on.

What will I get from Social Proof? Advantages

You should not miss the opportunity given to you with Social Proof as it has many advantages. 

What if I told you that you could display on your website dynamic testimonials based on the behavior, location and type of product/service that another user just took a few minutes ago?

The example above is just one example of why using a Social Proof pop-up notification software is a must. 

Let’s dig into the subject. 

Social Proof helps you: 

  • Boost conversions
  • Increase sales
  • Lower marketing cost
  • Shortcut the sales process
  • Build trust and authority fast
  • Validate your product or service
  • Reduce friction, anxiety and frustrations

Great, isn’t it?

Considering that people may look at 2-4 review websites before spending money, adding Social Proof to your platform jumpstarts that review process. 

You give consumers a head start in their review process before they jump to Trustpilot, Yelp, Google Review, Amazon, Foursquare, Capterra… or worse, go to competitors' websites. 

Social Proof boosts conversions, and by boosting conversions, the sales also go up. Thus, Social Proof shortens the sales process. 

The consumer journey is shorter by removing mental frictions that prospects may feel.

This is done by catching people’s attention with a visual element that pops on the screen of visitors, whether the prospects are on desktop or mobile. The pop-up usually appears at the bottom-left on desktops and at the bottom of the screen on mobile. 

Social Proof also helps you: 

  • Be more efficient and effective
  • Bring people to action
  • Catch attention
  • Provide more incentives to purchase
  • Give credibility to your brand
  • Remove doubts and uncertainties
  • Demonstrate that you solve a problem

Marketers can build trust rapidly and bring visitors into action by leveraging the social and psychological influence of other consumers. Social Proof does part of the persuasion job; it validates your offer. 

Social Proof is a tool that makes your marketing more efficient and effective while reducing the amount of marketing effort, for example ads, copy and design, you need to input in order to convert prospects.  

If you have experience using social proof notifications let us know in the comments!

Does Social Proof work? 

The short answer is yes. Pretty much everybody who uses Social Proof sees conversions and sales go up.


Would you book a room in Paris on Airbnb with 0 review if said room looks amazing, has amazing furniture and is centrally located? Or would you prefer to book a room that has 90 positive reviews and 5 negative ones? We are sure that most people would go for the second room. 

The first choice would be considered uncertain and risky. What if… this and that. All sort of scenarios go into the prospect’s mind. 

Using the same example, would you book:

  1. a room that only has amazing reviews, or; 
  2. the room that has great reviews about the attitude of the owner, but no comments about the room itself?

Here again, we are certain that the human element would play a big role in the case of the second room. 

Enough with the examples I made while sipping a cup of tea. 

There is actual data to prove that Social Proof works.

According to a global study about Trust in Advertising made by the consumer insights group Nielsen “recommendations from people I know [...] scored highest on trust, with 92 percent of consumers trusting this source completely or somewhat." 70% in the case of “Consumer opinions posted online.” 

Even if consumers do not know someone personally, the opinion of others matter, a lot. 

Social recommendation, even when coming from people we have never met, is a form of endorsement.

“Owned media, such as brand websites, scored higher than paid advertising but lower than social recommendations.“ Source: Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey, Q3 2011

This brings us to the gist of Social Proof: it is one of the most performant forms of marketing.

Smartphone and social media concept

The Action Mechanism of Social Proof

The beauty of Social Proof is that it makes use of our innate human psychology, which we inherited from thousands of years of evolution. 

Social influence is a powerful tool, especially when it comes to the trust factor.  We are more likely to purchase a product when it is recommended by another person, and even more likely if it is someone we know personally. 

We are rational and emotional beings. 

But we are also social beings. 

There is one more thing that people usually disregard about Social Proof pop-ups: the visual aspect.

Social Proof pop-ups catch our attention. We are visual beings, anything that moves with instantly catch our attention. 

Most people are “visual” so our eyes are drawn to movement. Other types are auditive (sound as a way to perceive the world) and kinesthetic (engages the body to perceive the world.)

Social influence leverages multiple psychological mechanisms, from emotions, visual cues and the power of social influence. 

You may have heard of the term KOL (Key Opinion Leader) or Brand Ambassador. You can think of Social Proof as being an alternative to paying millions for a Key Opinion Leader (usually a celebrity that endorses a product.) 

In the case of Social Proof, we use other consumers just like you to showcase the product or the service. 

Social Proof has an action mechanism based on human beings’ need for: 

  • Conformity
  • Trust
  • Compliance
  • Feeling accepted
  • Being part of a tribe

As Social Proof originates from other people just like us, it works better than anything a brand can say, write or demonstrate about itself. 

Social Proof humanizes the purchase process. We are not only buying stuff, we are buying social attributes, a lifestyle, a clan, a way of being… and sometimes we buy a social status. 

Social Proof reduces the mental barriers consumers have to buy a product or service by giving it a sense of credibility. Social Proof eases the doubts that originate in the rational mind by creating a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out. 

It also gives the sense that others have knowledge that we do not have. 

If other people purchased a product or a service, we can safely assume that it is safe to do the same. 

What do you think so far?

Use Social Proof Softwares on your Website or eCommerce Store

There are many Social Proof softwares on the market. 

We made a review of the best Social Proof software

Our recommenced Social Proof software is ProveSource, if you are doing eCommerce, we recommend FOMO

They have different pricing strategies, features, targeted users, but the configuration is pretty much the same: 

  1. Integration: you install a code snippet on your website
  2. Configuration: configure the messages, customize the appearance and select the types of features you want to use
  3. Execution: pop-ups appear on your website
  4. Tracking: track, measure and adjust the messages and features based on performance. 

The principles of Social Proof are the same: influence the prospect to convert him or her into a buyer. 

The way Social Proof systems work is that they get information from your website’s database or in the case of reviews/testimonials, from 3rd party websites. 

No big headache, it’s simple to install and use. 

Our favorite Social Proof software is ProveSource

Social media addiction

Functions and Features of Social Proof Software

Social Proof Software usually have similar features and functions. Customization of the appearance, information shown and type of content depends on the software you use. 

Some even offer Machine Learning to improve the performance of the pop-up notifications. 

Pop-up notification software are optimized for mobile and desktop, they also offer plenty of integrations and tracking data… Amazing right!

The basic features of Social Proof Software are: 

  • Quantification: A number appears on the pop-up. The website’s visitor will see the number of visitors that are currently on the website or the number of products bought. For example “There are 75 visitors on the website.”
  • Geolocation: An area where a user made a purchase appears, a small map, the name of the city and/or the name of the country are displayed. For example “John from LA subscribe to the online webinar.” 
  • Conversions: Conversions can be displayed by either using words or numbers, you usually see a picture of the product or the service. For example, “Kath from Miami bought this bikini 26 min ago.”
  • Testimonials/Reviews: A Testimonial or a Review appears, you can see the picture of the person, the name, the website where the review or testimonial was taken from (usually a 3rd party website.) Some stars may also be displayed. For example “Jane said: Those are the best headphones I’ve ever used. Sound quality is just amazing and customer service is fantastic. -Review from Products Review dot com”

So to recap the available features of Social Proof softwares (note that the list is not exhaustive and may be different from provider to provider):

  • User Activity
  • Recommended Services
  • Hot Products
  • Best sellers
  • Location Activity
  • Urgency (e.g. Sold Out, Only 1 left in stock)
  • Reviews and Testimonials
  • Customized Messages and Offers
  • Media Exposure
  • Live Feed
  • Star Ratings
  • Social Media Share Count
  • Subscriber or Buyers Count
  • Conversions Count
  • Visitors Count
  • Certification and Awards
  • Online Visitors Count
  • Traffic Count
  • User Generated Content (e.g. pictures, videos)
  • Celebrities endorsements

Of course, you can have multiple pop-ups on your website. Some Softwares also give you the chance to use different pop-ups on different webpages, showcase different products, etc. 

There are plenty of integrations that you can make use of to automate your process and get insights with mail automation, tracking, eCommerce CMS, etc. 

The most popular Social Proof software on the market are:

Our recommended software is ProveSource

Start Now: Social Proof Helps You Boost Sales and Leads!

We have used and tested about 40% of the most popular social proof notification software on the market. 

We made extensive Social Proof software reviews to help you select the best tool that fits you needs, wants; we even reviewed all the pros, cons, features as well as which software is best for specific types of users. 

If you need help selecting one of have any question, please let us know in the comments below!

About the author 

Martin Couture

I help people just like you start, grow and future-proof their online business. After years of creating digital experiences for brands like Disney, Nike, Tiffany, Fendi, BMW, Mercedes... I decided to start blogging and making niche websites. Now, I want to help you achieve what I have achieved. I worked at the 2 biggest independent agencies in the world: Wieden+Kennedy and Serviceplan. Martin Couture is Content Marketing Consultant at the Art of Growth Marketing.

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