Social Proof: what it means (and what it doesn’t)

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Social Proof: what it means (and what it doesn’t)

Social proof is one of the most powerful factors in your success as a Udemy instructor. When students are deciding between multiple courses, enrollments, ratings, and written reviews play a huge role in giving students the confidence to buy. “Social proof” is a fancy way of saying “other people have proven this content is valuable.” It means that a prospective student doesn’t have to take as big a risk. They can feel secure knowing others have vetted it and weighed in on the quality first.

When your course starts out, it’s always a blank slate. That’s why the number one most important thing to do in the first weeks is to establish a good baseline of social proof. The exact baseline will depend on your competition, the language, and the topic you’re teaching. However, a good rule of thumb is to work toward 100 enrollments, 10 ratings, and 4-5 written reviews. If you can get more than that, fantastic.

The point is, once you start passing that threshold your course landing page is likely to be much more successful at converting prospective students into buyers. Let’s break it down by each component.


  • Create a list of relevant personal and professional contacts. Then, add social networking groups you belong to. Finally, research groups and forums where your target student is likely to spend time on the internet. Carefully craft a message to send to these groups that will entice them to enroll in your course.
  • Use Udemy coupons to make people feel special. Offer a 75% or 100% discount, add an expiration date and drive urgency to sign up for your course. This can help you get an early influx of students. Learn more about coupons.
  • Be careful about giving away thousands of free coupons. Free students are typically less engaged, which means they are less likely to take the time to give you ratings and reviews.


Asking for Ratings + Reviews

  • Ask for honest reviews and feedback in your course introduction video, by direct message, and in educational announcements to students.
  • You can use language such as: “I hope you are enjoying taking this course as much as I am teaching it. Please take the time to leave an honest review or comment for me. Your feedback is important and I look forward to hearing about your experience.”
  • Ask colleagues or others in your network who have a genuine interest in the topic to review your course. If they have prior experience, ask them to honestly review it and mention their past experience so it helps other students gauge the level and quality.


Making the Most of Your Reviews

  • Reviews are less likely to be posted if the reviewer has not actually watched and engaged with your course. Our filter is designed to ensure each review reflects an engaged, unbiased opinion from a learner with a genuine interest in the course.
  • Respond to positive reviews by mentioning their name, saying thanks, and recognizing their effort as a student.
  • Respond to negative reviews with warmth and professionalism to show that you care about the reviewer’s experience. Example: “Thank you (name) for the review. Can anything be added or changed in the course to make it better for you? Thanks again for the feedback.”
  • Use positive reviews in your own marketing and on your course landing page! Make sure to ask your students for permission first.


Policy Guidelines

  • Reviews deemed fake, fraudulent, or otherwise inauthentic are prohibited
  • You are not permitted to solicit reviews in exchange for products or services
  • You are not permitted to specify any detail or information that you would like a student to write in a review
  • You are not permitted to trade reviews with other instructors
  • If a student offers to provide a positive review in exchange for goods or services, you must decline

Youtube video– Getting your first 100 students
Youtube video– How to get ratings and reviews
Article– Establish yourself with social proof

2 Replies
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Great tips here. Sometimes it is tough for instructors to be bold and ask for reveiws. I know it was tough for me. Fours years on and lots of tough learning later I don't have a problem with it. 

Another tip is to add a brief message in a very early video letting students know that Udemy will ask them for an early reveiw. I mention that first impressions count and that the 'gut impression' you have now in most cases will follow through the course - so if the student feels ready it would be a wonderful gift to potential students and to me if they left an honest early reveiw. 

Always be humble and gracious when you reply to all reveiws - especially if you get a low rated written reveiw - you can shine through if you handle it well. Plus take it on the chin and know that none of us is universally popular. I recently received a one star reveiw and was called "a frivious new ager" - my reaction - I nearly fell of my chair with laughter - then responded gently with my tongue firmly in cheek - adding the words "sowing the seeds of peace" to sign off!

Sharon Ramel
Spiritual Guide, Shaman, Priestess of the Blue Rose

I read your suggestions on social proof and I got a friend who is totally knowledgable in my subject area to go through my course and write a review. She did the whole thing -- 100% -- and then posted a review. After several days when it didn't show up, I complained to Udemy and I got a form letter saying that her review had been caught by the spam filter and the email lectured me that I needed to have people who did reviews interact with the course. They said they're going to post the review and I hope so because it still isn't there. You can't imagine how frustrating this is to a new instructor with a small social circle to draw from! I have no idea how many others of my circle were kind enough to leave reviews and I'll never know if they don't happen to tell me. Maybe you should just turn off your spam filter for the first couple months so new instructors have a chance to build that social proof that's so important.

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