In the dawn of the social network era, it comes as no surprise that social proof is a fantastic way to garner interest and trust in your business. If you as a business are not using the power of social proof, you need to change that right away.
In the following article, we will introduce you to the concept of social proof and also give you working types of social proof that you can employ to help promote and market your business.
What is social proof?
Let’s look at a dumbed down hypothetical example, just to help you quickly understand the concept of social proof. You are walking through a mall and there are two ice cream shops opposite each other. One of the ice cream parlors has people waiting in line while patrons who have managed to already get their ice cream are taking up the tables, furiously licking away at their ice creams, obviously enjoying the cold treat.
Now, you look across and you see the other ice cream parlor. All you see are just employees hoping someone will buy their ice cream. Now, you want ice cream. Which ice cream parlor will you go to? 90% of people in your position will go to the ice cream parlor with customers already waiting in line. Why? Because they have social proof that the ice cream tastes awesome. And they also have social proof that the other ice cream parlor probably sucks, because no one is at their shop, even though there are no lines and the place is right across the busy ice cream parlor with lines.
Once again, this is a dumbed down version of social proof but it applies to your business as well. When you give your potential customers social proof that your product, service or customer service is well liked, you break buying and trust barriers, all of which obviously bodes well for your business.
Now that you are sold on the concept of social proof, let’s look at some practical types of social proof that you can leverage to help your business.
Types of Social Proof that you can use to Market/Promote your Business
Your existing and satisfied customers are your best customers. They will attest to the fact that your product or service was not just of help to them, but that they will gladly come back to you for the same. These are the kind of people you want spreading the word about your business. A testimonial lets you do exactly that.
Approach your satisfied clients or customers and request them to write out a testimonial for you. Even better, ask them to do a video testimonial. Put it up on your business website and let the world see how you have satisfied that customer and how you are willing to service other potential customers as well, in a similar fashion. When you approach your existing customers for testimonials, give them a questionnaire like format that will elicit answers about how you specifically helped fulfill their needs. If you don’t do this, clients can tend to provide very personalized testimonials that might have a lot of rambling that will not really be useful to you.
It is all right to ask your customers to write out a testimonial in a format that you choose, as long as you are not coercing them into lying or providing information that they not comfortable providing!
People love seeing ratings on a product or service. Amazon’s reviews and rating system is one of its biggest sales drivers. When someone sees that a product has received 1,000+ 5 star ratings and just 30 1 star ratings, they are obviously going to quickly assume that the product in general is a good one.
Give your customers a chance to rate your product or service and publish it boldly on your website. Now, this strategy only works if customers are generally satisfied with your offerings. The last thing you want to do is show off 2 or 3 star ratings that will definitely deter sales. You shouldn’t hide or manipulate your ratings either. Instead, improve the quality of your product or service if your ratings are not something you can be proud about. It is as simple as that.
Like ratings, reviews work very well as well. If people have a lot of great things to say about your website, collect these review snippets and show it off on your site. Also, proudly show off the one or two negative reviews that you have, with replies to the customer who left those negative reviews. No business can run perfectly and you can show off a negative review in positive light, by showing how you went out of your way to eventually satisfy that customer’s complaint or issue.
Has your business website been mentioned at great online publications like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times? If yes, you must show this off. We are sure you must have come across at least a few sites where you are hit with the “As seen on Forbes, CNN, Wired etc. etc.” claim, with the logos of the online publications right alongside the claim of this type of social proof.
When people see such media mentions, they automatically add one and one and come to the conclusion that your business or website or product or service is worthy enough of being mentioned by a media source that is trusted by Millions. When you display such media mentions, it helps to actually link out to the publication’s website URL where your business has been actually mentioned. This will allow your website’s readers and visitors to verify media mentions and make sure you are not abusing this social proof technique. Media mentions is a technique that is abused by many webmasters around the world and providing proof will help clear the air for those who are wary of such claims.
Social Share Counts
If most of your business website’s visitors come from social traffic sources, it is a must that you show off how many people on Facebook or Twitter like your page or are following your page. Followers count or like count or share counts all show proof that your website has already been acknowledged, liked and trusted by hundreds, thousands of maybe even millions of people.
If you use a WordPress website, a simple plugin will quickly show the number of people who like your website or Facebook page. Existing social share count numbers encourage more social sharing and you already know that a like or follow means that you get multiple chances to market to that liking or following customer.
If your social share numbers are nothing that you can rave about, it is all right to get a little help to get the ball rolling. You can buy Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers or views or SoundCloud followers or plays, for a reasonable amount of money. It is perfectly legal and it will help you get that initial social buzz traction that will then organically grow on its own, without any further help.
Facebook, Twitter and almost all other social networks give you access to developer tools that will allow to get code that will help you show off your like or follower count, with such numbers constantly being updated in real time. If you are completely unfamiliar with code, you can hire a developer for a quick one hour job where they will set up your site in such a way that your social share metrics are proudly shown off on your home page, or wherever else you want them shown off.
A recent survey suggested that as many as 70 out of the top 150 blogs in the world prominently showed their social share metrics on the home page, on the side bar or in another prominent location.
Email subscriber count is a bit like social share count. But, it is a more valuable social proof metric to show off as it is difficult to make someone opt into your email list, usually through a double opt in form. Let’s say you have a personal finance blog and have managed to reel in 100,000 email subscribers. That is 100,000 people who trust your site for advice about how to manage their money. That is a serious credential to show off.
You can leverage this in your email opt-in form, by saying something like “Join 100,000+ subscribers to get the smartest and simplest way to make your money work better for you”. Or something along those lines. Once again, this breaks down barriers when it comes to opt-ins. In fact, when you have such social proof, people quickly subscribe to your email list to see what so many other people are interested in.
Once you have someone on your email list, you know you have the best chance of converting them into a lead or paying customer, for whatever it is that you sell or promote.
Expert mentions or recommendations
Has your website been recommended or mentioned in positive light, by an expert in your niche? This is something that you can blow up, highlight, spotlight and show off on your website. Think of it as quotations that you see on the back of a book cover, where famous critics write exciting one line reviews about a book.
Checkout how brands team up with an influencer like DJ Khaled:
— DJ KHALED (@djkhaled) May 22, 2017
Chances are that people interested in your website know who the expert is, since they are an authority in your website’s niche. A positive recommendation will obviously let users know that website has what it takes to make an impression on a critique.
The “Our Clients” section
You must have seen this on many websites by now. If a business has managed to bag clients, it will almost always show them off. You don’t need permission from the clients to do this either, as long as you don’t divulge details about what sort of work you did for the client.
This is a social proof method that pays off particularly well if you have managed to bag large Fortune 500 clients like Microsoft, Google, GE, Bank of America or whatever else big name company that operates in your field.
If you want to go the further mile with the clients’ social proof leverage technique, you can solicit testimonials or video reviews from people at these client companies and give your users a double jolt of proof that your clients are extremely happy with your work.
Numbers and test results that you can prove
Numbers are a very exact way to prove something and this holds true when it comes to social proof as well. If you have a 99% retention rate or 100% success rate or have other number metrics like being able to increase your customer’s sales by 300% or anything along those lines, you can use these numbers as social proof.
But, remember that you can’t fudge numbers as it will eventually come back to bite you. Just show off accurate numbers that are a true reflection of your site’s performance and people will appreciate the quality of business that you do.
It always helps if such numbers can be attested or certified by a third party website that provides these number results in a standardized form, like they have also done for your competitors maybe.
Get started with social proof on your website
Now that you know how to make social proof work to help promote your business, the onus is on you to actually carry it out. While you need not address all suggested items in this post, you must begin with at least a few items that you can action on quickly. If your website doesn’t use any social proof tactics at all, you will be surprised at how even the smallest social proofs will help you retain more customers and even increase your website’s conversion rate or social share rate, quite dramatically.
Employing social proof techniques on your site will often require the use of simple code, unless you are using a completely template based platform. If you are not very tech savvy, you can hire a freelancer to create these social proof sections on your website, after you have compiled the necessary information. Just quickly give them a wireframe drawing about how you would like social proof to be added and displayed and let them do the rest.