How to Encourage Social Proof on Instagram

With an ever-growing number of sponsored posts and paid ads on social media, users crave authenticity more than ever. As specified in the Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, 83% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of advertising. To attract new customers, providing social proof is a must.

The popularity of online shopping is constantly growing, so there’s no doubt that your potential customers are ready to discover and buy your products on the web. 

However, it can be daunting for them to decide whether your product is worth giving a try unless they read positive reviews from your previous customers. In short, they seek out social proof before making the purchase decision.

What exactly is social proof?

First thing’s first: it’s important to understand what is social proof before implementing it in your social media marketing strategy.

The term was first described by Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence, back in 1984. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people start copying the actions of others as they are considered to be the correct behavior in a given situation. 

When it comes to social commerce, customers have access to a great variety of similar products, so they pay close attention to social proof as it helps them make the right purchase decisions.

There are many different types of social proof – customer reviews, user-generated content, user testimonials, celebrity endorsements to name a few – and all of them influence consumer behavior. In short, you need to encourage social proof to acquire new customers, and Instagram is a great place to do it.

Why use Instagram for social proof?

If you’re looking for one social media network to get social proof from your customers, make it Instagram. As the fastest-growing social media platform with the most engaged user base, it’s a goldmine for businesses of all sizes and niches.

Any proof needed? Let’s take a look at Instagram statistics:

  • Your target audience is active here: The Instagram community has reached 1 billion monthly active users, so it’s no doubt that your audience is on the platform.
  • People discover new products on the platform: 83% of people use Instagram for new product discovery and 1/3 of all the users have made a purchase through Instagram shopping features.
  • Users want to connect with brands: 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business on the platform and more than 200 million people visit a business profile every day.

Want to know the best part? You don’t need much time or effort to get social proof on the platform as there are many creative ways to encourage social proof on Instagram that bring results.

How do you get more social proof on Instagram?

Here are 8 proven ways to effectively collect social proof on Instagram:

1. Optimize for social proof 

With a variety of similar products on the market, it’s easier for people to choose products and services based on the reviews they read. To make the most out of your word-of-mouth tactics, it’s important to optimize your Instagram account for social proof. 

What does that mean? You need to make it easier for visitors and followers to find social proof on your page without putting much time or effort into it. To make a long story short, take a look at an example from Hanacure:

Optimizing Instagram account description for social proof
Hanacure has a separate Instagram account for before&after pictures and the company promotes it in the bio section.

Not only can this help your potential customers save time and make the purchase decision faster, but it can also encourage your loyal clients to provide social proof as it shows that you appreciate their feedback.

If you want to optimize your account for social proof, consider using the following ideas:

  • Make a separate Instagram account for customer reviews to avoid clogging the main feed up with testimonials
  • Promote this account in the bio section to make it easier for visitors and followers to find it
  • Use an Instagram Story Highlight album to feature customer reviews
  • Create a specific business hashtag for gathering customer feedback and promote it in the bio section

2. Start a conversation with followers

Promoting your company on Instagram is not just about publishing brand content; it’s also about starting a dialogue with your customers as people crave communication with brands they love and follow. 

In fact, 44% of customers feel more connected to a brand when they participate in relevant conversations. And if you start a conversation with your followers, you help people feel valued and heard which also gives a solid reason for other people to share their thoughts about your product on social media.

The easiest way to start a conversation with your followers is to write Instagram captions that encourage people to share their thoughts in the comment section. Here’s how Hubspot encourages its followers to share their thoughts with the help of Instagram posts:

Use Instagram to start a conversation with followers
Hubspot encourages people to share their thoughts in the comment section.

If you use Instagram Stories for business, you can include the question sticker that allows you to collect questions from your followers and understand their pain points better.

Starting a conversation with your followers is a great way to help your customers feel seen, heard, and valued. As a result, they are more likely to share their thoughts about your product or service and recommend your brand to other people who are doubting whether it’s worth giving a try or not.

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3. Share customer feedback

Modern people read customer reviews before making the purchase decision as it helps them understand whether a product or service can meet their needs. Thus, people are happy to share their customer experiences (both good and bad) on social media as it can help other potential consumers make the right decision. For brands, this creates the importance of publishing customer feedback on Instagram.

If your customers share positive reviews on Instagram, that’s great. It gives you an opportunity to spread the word on your profile and encourage other people to trust the good experiences. Check out how Vaseline did it:

Re-share customer feedback on Instagram
Vaseline Brand monitors comments and brand mentions to take screenshots of positive customer feedback and post them on its Instagram feed.

But not all people write customer reviews in the comment section on your business profile. In fact, most companies miss out on around 96% of the conversations about them which can damage their reputation. 

If you want to know what your customers think about your product and get customer feedback to share on your profile, use a social media customer service tool to keep track of all conversations. 

4. Publish media reviews

Sponsored social media posts and paid ads bombard customers from all sides when they surf the internet. However, most people agree that media reviews look more authentic than posts on Instagram. When reputable magazines and journals mention your product in their text, let your followers know about it. In short, publish media reviews on Instagram.

For example, Clek collects media reviews, takes screenshots, and publishes them on Instagram Stories:

Share media reviews on social media
Clek uses Instagram Stories to share the latest media reviews and includes a swipe-up link to let viewers read more with ease.

When people see reviews from magazines and journals they read, it increases brand loyalty and trust. Plus, it creates a sense of belonging as people want to be a part of something valuable, so they become more likely to express their thoughts on the featured product or service.

5. Appreciate brand mentions

No matter what your business niche is, brand mentions matter. It’s a great way to get your customers to do your advertising for you. Whether you deal with customer complaints or get positive reviews, brand mentions help your business grow.

People want to be heard and valued, right? Thus, it’s important to appreciate brand mentions, and writing a comment is an easy yet effective way to do it. 

Collecting UGC on social
Although Starbucks receives hundreds of brand mentions daily, the company leaves comments to thank their customers and ask for permission to use the best photos on their Instagram profile.

More often than not, people tag your brand when they share their thoughts on your product. For businesses of any niche and size, this means an opportunity to understand your customers better. And when you thank the customer for the brand mention, you show that you take care of your customers and it encourages other users to share their thoughts on social media.

6. Promote your referral program  

People are happy to share their positive experiences with others: 49% of customers who have had a positive customer experience will talk about it on social media. But if you want to encourage more customers to tell their friends and family about your product, set up a customer referral program.

It’s in our nature to prioritize information from our dearest and nearest, so referral programs bring great business results. Not only can you get social proof, but you can also increase sales. According to Hubspot, 71% of people are more likely to purchase a product if referred. 

However, setting up a referral program isn’t enough to get results; you need to spread the word about it on Instagram. The best way to do it is to write an Instagram post that describes the benefits of your referral program, just like Keap did it in an example below:

Promoting a referral program on social media
Keap uses its referral program to obtain more customer reviews and attract new customers in exchange for a $100 bonus.

Once your customers start telling their friends about your company on the web, you can repurpose their reviews for Instagram and publish them on your main feed to ease the worried mind of your potential consumers.

7. Team up with brand ambassadors 

If you want to get more social proof from your customers, it’s important to set a good example for your followers. How? Collaborate with brand ambassadors!

The popularity of Instagram influencer marketing is on its rise. People trust recommendations from opinion leaders more than branded content, and 62% of people become more interested in a product or service after seeing it promoted by an influencer on the platform. 

Today, many brands work with Instagram influencers and invite them to become brand ambassadors to get user-generated content, increase brand trust, and encourage social proof.

Influencer marketing on Instagram
When publishing photos of influencers on Instagram, Lulus uses its brand hashtag #Lulusambassador to disclose the partnership.

Want to know the best part? You can ask brand ambassadors to publish images on their profiles as it helps to spread the word about your company and therefore attract new customers.

And if you use Instagram for growing an eCommerce business, you can team up with influencers who have switched to an Instagram creator account as they can add product tags. Not only can it provide social proof, but it can also help interested followers learn more about featured products with ease.

8. Organize a giveaway  

Do you want to motivate your customers to share their thoughts about your product? Organize a giveaway to give your followers the possibility to win something valuable in exchange for their images of your products. 

It’s no secret that free stuff is irresistible and it helps to increase reach, boost engagement, and get business results fast. Check out how Zappos generates user-generated content with Instagram giveaways:

Instagram giveaway
When running a giveaway, Zappos adds “use #GotItOnZappos in the caption” as one of the participation requirements to collect user-generated content.

If you want to attract more participants who are interested in your products, choose a gift card as the prize as it allows your followers to select a product of their choice. All in all, offering a gift card is a proven way to satisfy your customers’ demands and get better results. 

Wrap up

Over the last few years, consumer behavior has changed, and more and more people use Instagram for product discovery. With the popularity of Instagram among social media users, it’s important for brands of all sizes and niches to give their customers a solid reason to choose them over hundreds of competitors. Thus, providing social proof on Instagram is a must. Moreover, Instagram is a perfect place to set a good example for your customers and encourage social proof. 

Yes, it can take time and effort to get results but the payoff is huge. So, choose from the variety of ways mentioned above and try to collect social proof on Instagram.