Man’s greatest influence is his fellow men. When he sees a product, his first question would be, “do others use this?” It’s human nature to do what others are doing because it’s a validation of one’s choice. If others are doing it, then it must be worth doing. Social Proof, simply put, is based on this premise. It is at play when you open Trip Advisor when looking for a vacation destination or Yelp when choosing a restaurant. Social Proof is also at play when people want to get their hands on a “new release” or something that is of “limited edition”.
In marketing, you can use social proof in increasing conversions, credibility and sales. This article will show you how to use social proof in your business. It will also teach you how to build social proof from the ground up – meaning you have zero followers, zero connections and zero knowledge in how to do it.
Before we go into that, you have to know first that social proof may be tricky in the beginning. The numbers you get while building it may be discouraging because the growth is exponential rather than linear. You have to get to a certain point to reach a faster growth. To put it in numbers, it’s easier to go from 10,000 to 30,000 followers than it is to go from 0 to 500. So, don’t be discouraged. Stay with it and eventually you will get the numbers that you like.
Important Points to Consider
Display your highest numbers – Do not bother with your low numbers because it might work against you. If, let’s say, you have 1,000 Twitter followers and only 50 in Instagram, display your Twitter followers on your website and not your Instagram numbers.
Do away with unimpressive numbers – The unimpressive numbers are anti-social proof. No one needs to see them because they have a repelling effect. These numbers are indicators that you aren’t very sociable. What are these?
- Let’s say that you have enabled comments in your blog but no one is commenting; at best, you get just one or two comments. It’s better if you disable the comments or remove the “0 comments” line.
- If you have widgets that show your number of social media followers but the numbers aren’t impressive, it’s better if you remove them.
- Do not ask people to join your hundreds of email subscribers if you don’t even have one hundred.
Take note that when you’re just starting to build your social proof, numbers are not necessary.
Now that we have that out of the way, here are the different types of social proof that can boost your conversions.
- Raw Quantity – When starting with social proof, raw numbers are a good kickoff. Look at the numbers you already have and use them. If, you have a product either physical or digital, brag about the sales you have made. If you have a blog or podcast, how many countries do you have readers and listeners from? If you have a strong social media presence, use your number of followers as bragging point. These are just some numbers you can use. Feel free to look elsewhere.
If you have content that gets even just a tiny bit of traffic, people are probably sharing it. Capitalize on that by making it simple to share your content. You can also use a call to action to share your content on a specific platform. If you’re just starting out, the number of shares per platform may not be impressive so just use the total number.
To make sure that people are sharing your content, there’s no better way to do it than to ask them. If you have mentioned influencer(s) in your content, reach out to them. Let them know that you mentioned them and chances are, they will share it to their audience. Another way to do it is to include a call to action in your content. Be specific like ask them to share it with their Facebook friends, to pin it in Pin or reblog in Tumblr. You may also ask your email list to share your content. Do not overdo it though lest they get overwhelmed.
- Testimonials and Quotes – The most common forms of social proof are testimonials and quotes. If you have an online content or have received a nice feedback about your product or services, then you have a starting point. Ask for a quote that you can put on your website. Testimonials and quotes work well because they are relatable. They especially work better if they come from people who are like your target audience.
- Endorsements – In each industry, there are industry leaders or influencers. Featuring endorsements from these people will help you become more credible. How do you do this?
- Identify the experts you want to get endorsements from. These may be people who are already familiar with and have had prior interaction. You can also target people you know of but have not interacted with. You may also consider people from a different industry but whose endorsement is an impressive social proof.
- Once you have identified your targets, make sure you’re on their radar. Mention them in your content. People love to be used as an example because it gives them social proof as well. Do this well by linking to the expert your articles on guest posts instead of just in your own website. He may not notice your link if your website is not that big yet so it’s better if the link is found in a larger site or publication. If your expert has Google Alert set up for himself, he will be alerted of the mention. If you’re not sure if he has one or not, shoot him an email.
- Now that you are on their radar, these are the ways you can get their endorsement.
If you are familiar with the influencer, then just go ahead and ask for their endorsement. When asking for one, make it easy for them by being specific with what you need. How long do you want the endorsement to be? What are the points you want to include? Where will you put the endorsement? You may also provide them with samples.
Buy their product and be a case study. Report back on what you like about their product. This move works because, again, you are providing them with social proof.
Provide value by coming up with a list of things you can help them with. Do not think that just because they are the influencer, you have nothing to offer them.
- Your Features – If you have been featured in a publication or website, then that’s a great social proof. It’s not hard to get featured in press and other large publications. You can do this through guest posting and republishing. Most large publications are wanting for content and are just glad to take high quality materials from guest posters. Once you have done this, you can include their logos in your “featured in” or “seen in” section.
Republishing is a great way to build social proof because you can use the content you already have without need for extra work. If you already have guest-posted, you can pitch your content to other publications for republishing. Make sure to ask first the host publication if they allow other publications to republish their content.
Aside from guest posting and republishing, another way to get featured is by being interviewed. Being interviewed provides social proof especially if the interviewer is from a popular publication or podcast.
- Referrals – Referral, especially from friends, is a credible source in advertising. Create a referral program that rewards a customer when they make referrals. Rewards can be in the form of discounts or other non-monetary perks. For referral to work, your product or services must be worth endorsing and the referral procedure must be simple as well.
- Certifications – Display any certifications that you have as a social proof. Include them in your sidebar, homepage or in your About page.
- Gazing – When looking at an image, our eyes are generally drawn to where the subject in the photo is looking at and the natural lines that point towards something else. What does it have to do with social proof? Gazing is a form of social proof. Find an image that provides line of sight to your call of action. You may use faces, arrows or other forms of lines. Take note though that faces are more interesting than lines and arrows. Make sure though that your line, arrow face are directed towards your line of action.
- Ratings and Reviews – We are like sheep. We want to know what other people like so we always look for ratings and reviews. If you are just starting, it may not be easy to get reviews. Consider giveaways for reviews. Give away something that is valuable and you will be getting lots of reviews. Aside from value, make sure you’re giving away something that is relevant. With that in place, be specific in what you want in the reviews. Ask for specific stories like how they find your product, how they use it or will they recommend it to friends.
- Case Studies – Case study is a powerful social proof. It will really get people to buy your product. If you’re just starting and don’t have customers yet, make yourself the guinea pig. Use yourself as the case study.
- Proof of Concept – If you cannot use yourself as a case study, you can use other people’s story as a proof that your concept works but do not give the perception that you’re responsible for other people’s transformation.
- Social Media Proof – Mentions on social media shows that your audience is engaging with you and that’s a good sign; however, you can’t really ask people to shout you out on social media lest you look desperate. The way to go about this are:
- Do not be a serial liker – Do not like everything you see; instead, just like the nice things said about you and to you. This way, you can curate social proof about you, your brand and business.
- Create your own hashtag – To keep track of conversations about you, create your own hashtag and ask your audience to use it. Do this by using the hashtag yourself in your contents. This will encourage your audience to use it as well.
- Fear of Missing Out – People love exclusivity that’s why “limited offers” have a certain pull. Capitalize on this for social proof. Start with deadlines. Put a deadline on your product offerings, discounts, bonuses and opt-in offers. There are people who wouldn’t want to miss out. You can also create exclusivity and make people think that there must be a reason why your product is not available to everybody. They would want in on that.
- Rankings – If you are new to ranking, get started by posting your product launch on sites like Product Hunt. Let people know that you’re there and that they can check you out. Don’t be desperate though and ask for their up-votes. Besides, the site might smell something fishy and shut you down. Promote your content and get your audience to talk about you.