Case Study versus Social Proof

Written by Tammy Durden

When I began a business, nearly ten years ago, I was unfamiliar with the terms Social Proof and Case Study.  Testimonials and reviews were more familiar terms. In fact, I still use these often to determine if I want to do business with a company.

Reviews, case studies and social proofs are all important factors for the success of any business.  Reviews are simply a client’s opinion of services provided for a business in written (or online) format for others to view.  What, however, is a social proof or a case study?

Social Proof and Case Studies

Defining Social Proof

In a marketing context ‘Social Proof’ is defined by Optimizely as:

“evidence that other people have purchased and found value in a product or service offered by a business. Because people are more likely to purchase a product which others are already purchasing (the bandwagon effect), social proof can be a way to increase conversions by showing customers how popular a product or service is.”

Tech Crunch‘s simplified version back in 2011, defines social proof this way:

“Put simply, it’s The positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.  It’s also known as informational social influence.”

Social Influence and Social Proof

Consider how much ‘word of mouth‘ can factor into every day decisions.  When looking for a Doctor, Realtor or any professional service, a friend’s recommendation holds more than a listing in the phone book or online.  This is a type of Social Influence.

Today, however, a social influence can be multiplied many times over, thanks to social media platforms. If I gave a ‘shout out’ online to a business, for example, and friends know that this is rare for me to do, then they can influenced to also purchase from that business.  Now imagine that those friends pass the same information on to their connections and their connections pass it along as well.  This creates ‘buzz’ about the service or product.  If enough people purchase, it can serve as Social Proof that it is a service or product in need and wanted by many.   Social Proof can be the result of Testimonials like this, but is not simply a single review only.  Social Proof goes on to be shared by multiple connections over and over again.  Social Proofs, as the name suggests, also ‘prove’ a product’s marketability at times.

Defining Case Study:

A Case Study, on the other hand, can be even more important to a business in some cases.  It is quite different from Social Proof.  A Case Study involves actual data about the clients of a business and the impact the business has had on the client.  Data is measured to show how a business has impacted their client(s).  These are hard facts, rather than reviews or word of mouth.  Case studies can cause the client to give a positive review, but the review itself does not ‘prove’ marketability.

Case Studies are measurable and show quantitative results that reveal much about the business-client relationship.  Of course, recommendations certainly go a long way to help foster trust, but in itself does not prove anything.  Case studies, on the other hand, are proof rather than opinion, showing how a business has performed for their client(s).

Data is collected about the service(s) provided for a client and translated into a numerical value, which is then put into a report for a case study.  Results will provide proof of how the business is performing in regard to the services they have provided for the client.

Google Search Dictionary defines Case Study as:

  1. a process or record of research in which detailed consideration is given to the development of a particular person, group, or situation over a period of time.
  2. a particular instance of something used or analyzed in order to illustrate a thesis or principle.”

Examples of Case Studies

A few examples of Case Studies are shown below for our Company and our Clients who are using our Social Media Services (the Name of our Client’s Companies have been removed to preserve privacy but included their industry).  In the three case studies below we were able to measure changes as numerical increases, as well as, the percentage of change on their social platforms.

These examples serve as proof, not only for our clients, but also as evidence of our ability to deliver results (in social media services) for prospective clients.  They can easily see how our company has helped a similar industry because of the data measured.

Effects of Case Studies

Every business understand how important it is to know their numbers.  It is just as important to know the data, not just the accounting figures. Imagine the impact case studies can have on clients.  If a client can see proof that the money they are spending (on services or products) has created a real difference for their business, it is likely that they will continue to do business with that company.

It is also possible that case studies have the propensity to increase client loyalty.  If a company can prove to a client their benefit to them by revealing a true numeric value, it is likely they will not only continue to be clients, but also company cheerleaders.  Clients who know they are getting their monies worth and then some, will also be the people who will tell their friends and connections as well.

Attracting New Clients

When trying to attract potential clients, as well as, keep current clients, a Case Study can be a huge asset.

Case Studies can also be a way of attracting new clients.  If prospective buyers see that a company is producing positively for others then they will be more inclined to spend money with that business as well.  When a prospective client is trying to decide on social media services, for example, case studies can make a difference in determining where they spend their marketing dollars.  Case studies may also help to provide another layer of transparency.  Transparency is a great way to help increase trust.

Tammy’s Office Solutions Case Studies:


[Client A = Transitional Business Coach]


[Client B = Podcasts]


[Client C = Developmental Center for Special Needs Children]

Case Study and Social Proof are both important for a business for different reasons.  One we have a little more control over than the other.  If a business has the ability to prove to a client that services/products they are providing them is actually making a difference for them, they will likely want to continue with this business and hopefully tell others.  Case Studies can provide for this for a business, but can take time to collect the data. Social Proof can take off more quickly, as long as enough buzz is created around it if the pre-launch of that product or service has been carefully prepared  A business does not always have control over social proofs, other than to provide great services and/or products, as well as, customer service.  Both, case study and social proof, however can be very beneficial to a business.

Have you tried to do a case study for your clients?

How about social proof?  Have you ever it make a huge impact on your business?

Please let us know your experiences with these.

We would love to hear from you and how these have or are affecting your business.

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