Did you know there’s a phenomenon in business marketing that when applied correctly will actually work for you to get more business? It’s called social proof. Social proof is a valuable asset that can increase your credibility, popularity, virality and profitability on the internet. Let me show you the best ways to generate social proof and use it to your advantage with your online business or blog.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is a term referring to a psychological phenomenon that occurs when we as humans see many people doing business at a particular place. Think about this: You’re a tourist in a foreign town. You don’t know much about where you are but you’re getting hungry. Restaurants line both sides of the street. You spent a lot of money to get here and you want to try the best food around because you’ll probably not be coming back any time soon. With such limited knowledge, how do you decide where to get your meal? The easiest way to find the best meal would be to look inside each store and determine which restaurant is the busiest! If so many people are dying to eat there, it must be good food and it must be a popular place to eat.
The above scenario happens all the time. Did we research the restaurant before eating there? Did we ask around and get opinions of others? Did we make a list of pros and cons? No. We based our decision on the fact that if many people are doing business there already, they much be having a good experience and we want to make sure we have a good experience too. So we copy them. That restaurant used social proof – the concept that the actions of the masses reflect the proper choice for us as well – to gain your business.
How Does That Apply to Me Online?
Unlike our experiences offline, on the internet you can’t actually see the number of people doing business on a particular website. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of social proof in the same ways. There are many strategies for showing how popular your business is.
One way is to display the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers you have. As others visit your website, they’ll be able to see that you must be popular because others obviously like what you do. You can also display the number of RSS feed subscribers you have and it will work the same way. Another form of social proof is the number of comments you have on your blog articles. Seeing a number of comments will subconsciously alert visitors to the popularity of your site.
A fourth way to show social proof is to gather and display reviews from past customers. Seeing the positive experiences that they’ve had with you can inspire future customers to do business with you too.
A Word of Caution
When displaying your social proof, be aware that it can have the opposite affect and hurt your business if you’re not careful. Displaying that you have zero fans or zero positive reviews will alert future site visitors that you aren’t popular and can’t be trusted as a positive place to do business. If you don’t have any social proof to display, it’s better to wait until you do. Don’t display a big zero.
Getting Social Proof When You Have None
So how do you get social proof if you don’t have any? The best thing you can do is ask for it! Start by asking your offline network of friends and family to visit your site and follow your social media profiles. Have them make some comments on your blog. Then move onto inviting your online networks to do the same. Create invitations on your site for visitors to keep up the process. You can even add an incentive like a free download, sample or trial of your product or service for subscribing to your content. If you keep up with quality posts and irresistible invitations, you can build your own social proof to build your business with.
The best part about social proof is that once you build a little bit of it, it grows faster and faster. That’s the benefit of social media marketing. Eventually your social proof will start to skyrocket. Potential customers will see this and feel they too can have a similar positive experience by doing business with you. The proof generated by past customers and fans will literally grow your business for you. As they continue to spread the word, you will continue to reap the benefits.
So don’t delay! Start building your social proof right away.
Written by Brandon Freund
Free Ebooks and Guides