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Social proof is all about herd behaviour – following the crowd. “If everyone else is shopping there, then I should be too.” “They can’t all be wrong, can they?”

What is social proof?

The term ‘Social proof’ was coined in the 1980’s to describe the idea that people will alter their behaviour based on the experiences of others. Last year, we spoke to lawyers in Belfast about social proof and recruitment – how firms can use social media to sell more than just their services.  Wouldn’t you want to attract the right candidates to a job vacancy and turn them into brand ambassadors for your business?

Research has shown that:

  • 83% of consumers say recommendations from family and friends make them more likely to purchase a product or service
  • 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • placing the logos of business customers on a company website can increase conversions by as much as 400%
  • the average consumer reads 10 online reviews before making a purchase decision
  • 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating, and
  • for 50% of all consumers, their very next step after reading a positive review about a company is to visit their website.

In short, there are lots of good reasons to encourage clients to leave online reviews, get them to share links for your social media pages and for your company to have an up to date website that works well on mobile phones and desktop computers.

What do prospective clients see when they look for your business online?

It’s not what you say about your business, but what other people say, that has real impact. Prospective clients will expect your website to say great things about the services you offer to meet their needs, but testimonials and case studies from unbiased third parties carry more weight. Take the opportunity to highlight success stories – the journey from identifying a client’s problem or pain point to delivering a solution with measurable results.

Think about using statistics to back up feedback you have already received or the services you offer – for example ‘96% of clients say they would recommend us to a family member or friend’, ‘according to Feefo, 99% of our clients gave us a 4 or 5 star rating’ or ‘more than 200 North East couples asked us to help with tax planning in the last year’. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful phenomenon!

There may be a small number of clients who were not impressed by your company or didn’t receive the service they desired. You can’t please everyone, all of the time, so how you deal with negative reviews and complaints speaks volumes about you and your business. Rather than ignoring or deleting these comments, show your human side, apologise and admit you got it wrong, and offer a solution. Prospective clients want to see how you might treat them, should a similar issue arise.

How can I build social proofing into my marketing plan?

Social proof is easier to gather and demonstrate if you have a strong online presence. Start with your website, social media channels and customer feedback forms. Listen to your clients and show appreciation for their feedback. Be present, be responsive and be human!

Cal Partners is an award-winning digital marketing and business development agency working exclusively with professional services firms. Since our inception 5 years ago, we have helped many firms raise awareness of their brand, penetrate new markets or increase existing market share. Find out what our clients say HERE.

About the author

Alison O'Neill

Account Manager, Alison, is a former Forensic Scientist who moved into professional services marketing in 2008 and is a Chartered Marketer and Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (MCIM).

Marketing for Professional Services

Cal Partners

The go-to strategic marketing partner for ambitious professional services