April 24, 2023

What Social Proof Means (and Why It Matters)

At Judge.me, we work hard to give our merchants the power to gather social proof effortlessly and then display it on their storefronts in a wide range of ways that are both visually powerful and work with their existing brand identity. But what is social proof, exactly? Though we hear it (and say it) everyday, it’s sometimes worth reminding ourselves what it really is – and why it matters so much in e-commerce.

Human beings like other human beings

Let’s start with the basics. We human beings are social creatures. We belong together. However self-sufficient we think ourselves to be, we rely heavily on other people to lead the kinds of lives we lead. Today, thanks to the awesome power of technology, we have more control over how we live than at any point in human history. But we still depend on others. We’re still part of a much bigger ecosystem. Online and offline, at work or school, with friends or family, we belong to communities.

Belonging to communities isn’t just about having some company as we make our way through the world. We can look out for each other. And we can also learn from others, and they can learn from us. If we want to know what to do in a situation, we don’t have to give ourselves a headache trying to work it out ourselves from first principles. We can just see what other people do, and copy them. It’s a handy shortcut. It means we can devote our energy to other things.

Social proof in action

This phenomenon applies in many different areas of life – online and offline. We adapt our behaviour to the behaviour we see. We learn from others. We’re more likely to follow someone on Twitter or Instagram if they already have a lot of followers, for example. We’re more likely to like something if it has a celebrity endorsement or a stamp of approval. We’re more likely to believe something if lots of people believe it already. And we’re more likely to believe an idea is right if other people think it is, we’re more likely to think a product is trustworthy if other people think the same thing.

None of this means that we just mindlessly go along with the crowd, by the way. We can still bring our own experience and judgement to bear on what we’re looking at whenever we shop. (In fact, we should do this.) But it does mean that we can take a mental shortcut. Social proof lets customers get from A to B more quickly.

“Greatest support team ever! Their response was very fast and we could solve our problem in a few minutes. The app is very useful and has helped us to improve the store. Above all, the new released UGC feature is amazing! We cannot believe that we can use the feature for free.” – Alex Kikuchi, Osewaya Global Team

Reviews are a powerful form of social proof

In e-commerce, the most powerful forms of social proof are reviews and ratings. And the data shows how much we rely on this kind of social proof to make buying decisions.

  • 93% of consumers say online reviews affect their shopping choices
  • 99.75% of consumers read reviews ‘sometimes’
  • 89% read ‘regularly or always’
  • 98% of consumers said reviews were an ‘essential resource’ when making purchase decisions

Sources: Frontiers, Power Reviews

Those are some high numbers. Almost all of us want to know what other people thought of the things we’re looking to buy. If other people liked something, then we’re likely to like it, too. If you’re choosing between two pairs of trainers, and one has 1,000 reviews and a 4.9 rating and the other doesn’t have any reviews, which one are you more likely to pick?

User-generated content stands out

User-generated content, or UGC, is original content made and published by customers. It includes reviews, but it can also include testimonials and podcasts. It’s most commonly associated with photo and video – and it’s a hugely impactful way to display social proof.

  1. 62% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they see photos and videos from other customers
  2. Shoppers who view video are 174% more likely to purchase a product than non-video viewers
  3. 79% of people have watched a testimonial video to get to know the company or its products and services better

Sources: Emarketer, Channel Innovation, WyzOwl

It isn’t surprising. Not only does highly visual content stand out on the page, but UGC makes a customer’s experience feel real. If you see someone wearing or using a product you’re thinking of buying, then that will naturally have an influence on your purchase decision.

Great app. Very useful and stable. Very fast and attentive support. Hakima was particularly helpful with some quick fixes to our UGC Media grid. Overall a very solid app solution for product reviews, customer Q&A, and UGC.” – Douglas Gatanis, Mudpuppy

Where we come in

Our job is to make collecting and displaying social proof easy for everyone. That’s why our pricing is flat and affordable. That’s why we’re available in 38 languages. That’s why we integrate with more than 80 leading apps. It’s why we have customer support teams across three different timezones. We empower merchants to show the quality of their products by asking their customers for honest feedback. But we also empower customers by giving them a quick and easy way to shop and make buying decisions that won’t disappoint them.

But let’s be more concrete.

Reviews Widget

Our Reviews Widget is a fully customizable way to display the reviews you’ve collected. Once you’ve set up your review request settings, collected some reviews, and imported any you have published elsewhere, you can show those to visitors to your site.

UGC Media Grid

Our UGC Media Grid lets you curate your favorite user-generated content from Instagram and bring together in a customizable widget for your store.  We can grab up to 100 recent photos, videos, and reels that you’re tagged in on Instagram.

Automatic Social Share

You can distribute your social proof across your social media channel with just a few clicks. You just connect your Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter account to Judge.me and let us do the work for you, based on your predetermined conditions.


In the end, social proof comes down to trust. And trust is one of our key brand values. When you show your reviews and ratings, you send a trust signal to your customers. They may not know you or your store well, but if other people have given their feedback, then shoppers know they can trust you. That means they can buy with confidence.