Social Proofing: The Thumbs Up for Business

Do You Really Need Social Proof?

Many companies spend a lot of resources on SEO services  to increase traffic for greater profits, and I’d be the first to say that’s a worth while endeavor. I believe every website needs at least rudimentary optimization. However, while SEO is an important element in marketing, sometimes traffic isn’t the problem. Sometimes you need more call to actions, or a different content focus, or your design. It’s crucial to know exactly what your site’s issues are, as well as who you’re trying to reach if you’re going to have a successful campaign.

Rather than focus on SEO alone, it’s important to consider all available marketing strategies to find the best solution. While there are many ways to market your business, one method claims to boost all of them: social proof.

What Is Social Proof?

Social proof can be many things, from testimonials to social media trends. In general, it’s anything that encourages a specific response using the suggestion that many others also respond that same way. In short, it uses the premise of “keeping up with the Joneses” along with a touch of mob mentality. “Thirty people say they loved this blog post. Maybe I’ll love this blog post, too.”

There’s a wrong way and a right way to use social proofing. This can be a phenomenal tool if used correctly, as social proof regularly performs better than appealing to logic or reason. Using them together can bring exceptional results. Used incorrectly, however, they can be devastating to your marketing campaign.

The Wrong Way

The most obvious way social proof can be used incorrectly is outright fabrication. Fact checking a claim takes minimal effort these days, so make sure your proofs are truthful and substantiated. While lies might work in the short term, the long term damage to your brand’s reputation isn’t worth the momentary gain.

Even the truth can hurt your campaign if you use negative social proof. This is proof that condones the opposite of the behavior you want from your audience. For example, suggesting that “many followers regret missing out on a special offer” suggests it’s acceptable to miss out. Avoiding regret isn’t as persuasive as missing out, because many others are doing the same.

Where Can I Get Social Proof?

There are many types of social proof to consider:

  • testimonials
  • product reviews
  • social media trends
  • 3rd party logos or associations
  • studies and statistics
  • storytelling
  • served/visited counters
  • influential quotes or statements

Start with whatever proof is easiest to obtain, such as using a site counter or third party associations. Collecting more can involve asking for blogger reviews or hosting a product/service giveaway in exchange for testimonials. It could also involve researching the topic of your article to find statements made by influential celebrities or industry leaders. Even starting a discussion on social media channels can provide valuable feedback you can use as social proof.

How To Use Social Proof?

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ method for using social proof. While there are several considerations to keep in mind when determining how to use it, the only way to optimize social proof is to test, test, and test some more. Here are some starting points to think about when deciding how to use social proof:

  • type of proof
  • core message of proof content
  • placement and layout
  • identifiers (pictures, names, etc.)
  • quantity

When targeting an audience through social media channels, for example, it may be more helpful to have proof linked to that same platform rather than a third party logo. The details of using social proof effectively could fill volumes on its own, but there are a few simple suggestions to get started:

  • Proof often works best closer to your call to action. With some exceptions, using proof to support your copy tends to work very well.
  • Pictures are social proof gold. If you can get pictures with your proof, it adds to the ‘believability’ of truthful yet unexpected claims.
  • Keep adding to your proof collection. Generally speaking, more proof increases the effect. This is also especially important for outdated proofs, and allows more selectivity of proof used.

In conclusion, social proof is a powerful marketing tool that can boost your efforts dramatically. Whether you needit or not depends on how serious you are about getting results. For those looking for superior results, the answer is a resounding “yes!”

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