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How the Principle of Social Proof Can Help Sell Classes

Nic Lyons

November 29, 2022

Imagine you need to buy a new washing machine. It’s been a while since you purchased one and you don’t have any strong preferences for which brand to choose. How do you narrow down your options? Most people will either get recommendations from friends and family, or go online and start reading reviews. Both approaches use the principle of social proof: looking at what other people are doing to decide on a course of action. 

The principle of social proof can be a tremendous marketing asset because humans are social creatures. We tend to be influenced by the opinions and actions of those around us, both consciously and subconsciously. Your students are no exception. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use the principle of social proof to recruit students and sell classes. 

How To Use The Principal Of Social Proof In Marketing 

Even if you’re not deliberately using social proof as a marketing strategy, it’s probably influencing at least some of your students. Their friend may have recommended your program, or they read reviews before they signed up. When you intentionally leverage the principle of social proof to market your brand, you can attract more people to your classes. Here are a few ways to put this principle to work for your program.

1. Publish Student Testimonials

When it comes to social proof, testimonials are gold. They feature the opinions and experiences of real people who have actually taken your classes and enjoyed them enough to talk about them. If you don’t already have a process to collect and share student testimonials, now is the time to set one up. 

A few quick tips on how to get the most out of your testimonials:

  • Do: ask students for permission to share their feedback
  • Don’t: reuse testimonials from other platforms like Google or Yelp

  • Do: shorten testimonials to share only the most compelling parts
  • Don’t: change words or cut testimonials in a way that alters the meaning

  • Do: look for novel and interesting ways of talking about your program
  • Don’t: use boring testimonials like “it was great” or “I learned a lot” 

We’ve created an email template to help you ask for testimonials along with some advice on how to get the best kinds of feedback from students. 

2. Encourage students to leave reviews

Google, Yelp, and Facebook all offer opportunities for students to leave reviews. Many potential students will use reviews to make a decision about your program. In fact, 77% of people say they “always” or “regularly” read online reviews when browsing local businesses. 

Reviews deliver social proof because they’re written by people who have had direct experience with a business or product. Public reviews are also a great way for you to continue to build your brand and engage with students. After receiving a nice review, consider leaving a note in response. 

Here’s a template to help you respond to positive reviews. 





Hi [reviewer],

Thanks for the kind words! We’re so glad you’re part of our community at [Program Name] and can’t wait to see you at your next class!


[program director or instructor]





If you get a bad review, don’t panic. Most people recognize that bad reviews don’t always tell the whole story, but potential students will be watching to see how you respond. Be professional and courteous and give the reviewer the next steps that will help address their complaint.

Here’s a template to help you respond to negative reviews: 





Hi Riley,

We strive to deliver high-quality learning opportunities to every student and are sorry to hear you had a less-than-stellar experience. If you feel comfortable sending us a private message, we’d like to collect more details and find a way to make it right. 


[program director]





Responding to reviews might seem like extra work, but it really can help you attract students. 57% of people say they are “not very” or “not at all” likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews. Writing those responses shows potential students you’re engaged and ready to help.

3. Share Your Statistics and Milestones

Invite the public to celebrate with you when you hit a milestone or achieve something exciting. Consider sharing on social media when you’ve:

  • Enrolled your 100th, 500th, or 1,000th student
  • Hit 1,000 followers
  • Have been open for a year or five or 10
  • Hired a new instructor
  • Received a grant or award
  • Earned some press coverage

Each of the achievements listed above shows that your program is successful and people are taking action to support it. You’re not only thanking your students for their support, but you’re also using social proof to help potential students feel as if they’re missing out on something they want to be a part of! 

4. Create A Branded Hashtag To Collect Content

On platforms like Twitter and Instagram, a branded hashtag can help make sure you see what students are posting about your program. Encourage students to post using your branded hashtag when they want to talk about your program.

Students might post: 

  • Pictures of a meal they made after taking a cooking class
  • Video of them salsa dancing after a dance class
  • Recordings of them singing or playing an instrument
  • An excited selfie after they land a job using the skills you taught them
  • Examples of their paintings, sculpture, or other artwork

You’ll generate user social proof and maybe even grow your following thanks to this user-generated content (UGC). You can even run contests or promotions asking students to use your hashtag in exchange for a small prize, like program swag or a 10% discount off their next class. 

5. Brag About Student Accomplishments

Celebrating the success of your students doesn’t just make them feel good. It also provides social proof that your programs have real value. If one of your students achieves success related to a class they took with you, celebrate with them! 

Consider posting something like this:





We’re so proud of Parker for getting their short story published in the Blackbird journal! They started writing this manuscript in our Introduction to Creative Writing course and we are so impressed by what it became! #YourBrandHashtag





Social Proof Starts With Brag-Worthy Experiences

The principle of social proof works best when you build real relationships with students. It starts with brag-worthy student experiences and is cemented by how your program conducts itself on social media.

The more you engage and interact online, the more people will see your name and your brand. Social media algorithms analyze the people and profiles whose content you view, and will begin to suggest your page as something those people might want to follow in return. Over time, you’ll begin to reach a broader pool of potential students. 

Give your students a registration experience they’ll want to tell their friends about. CourseStorm’s course registration software makes registration simple and easy. Try it for yourself or reach out for more details.


Nic Lyons

Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.

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