Social proof is a concept used in online marketing that businesses and individuals use to judge the trustworthiness and reliability of a person or business online, and that search engines such as Google also use to improve page rank for any given website. It’s about engaging customers and potential customers and building trust and proving that you’re reliable, honest and trust worthy.
We’ve all seen websites filled with testimonials and we all know that nobody actually believes these anymore, heck I could send to you a site now that will sell you video testimonials for just a few dollars… with Social Media proof, your trustworthiness is built up over time, it involves your customers and it’s often their voices combined that give you true social proof.
Social Proof Starts with Being Social
If you’re in business and you don’t have any sort of social media account you’re marketing in the dark ages and it’s only a matter of time before your competitors are gaining more and more work from you, using social media and social proof in their marketing mix.
I believe every business should have accounts the likes of Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin, they are free after all and you can’t escape the importance of being social when it comes to online marketing. Friends of friends actually do care about what their friends and family are doing, saying and buying. The actions of the influencers in your life actually help determine the actions you might make.
Friends of a Feather…
Studies show that your closest friends influence not only your happiness but also your net worth. The saying that “birds of a feather, flock together” isn’t really far off. This means that with the right connections on social media, if you can get the word out about your products and/or services to one of your most ideal clients, and they share, it will likely end up in the view of more of your ideal clients.
Word-of-Mouth Is Imperative
What’s more is that most people trust word-of-mouth recommendations for products and services more than they trust any other type of marketing or advertising and most definitely more than they trust the testimonials on your website. If your best friend says she likes something, you can usually be sure you’ll feel the same way. If someone you trust says they found value in something, you feel confident that you will too and chances are you’ll check it out too.
Social Proof Takes Time and Effort
Developing and increasing your social proof happens through interaction on social media, blogging (does your business have a blog?), and participating in your community. It doesn’t matter if your community is online or offline, I’m a member of my local Chamber of Commerce and various other business networking groups, because I value to social proof these groups give to me, all it takes is effort in getting to know those other businesses involved. Become an active participant and it will go far in creating the social proof that you need to be seen as a trustworthy source of information. The more people who start quoting you, the more people who friend you, follow you, and retweet your information, the more social proof you collect.
Use the Tools of the Trade
Tools like Google Authorship allow you to connect your articles and blog posts to your image in the search results. Plus creating branded social media URLs, along with a consistent image and profile will go far in ensuring that people know who you are. Once a person reads, enjoys, likes, shares and comments on something that you have written, they’ll be more likely to see search results that your work appears in.
Before online marketing we already knew that customers were more likely to tell people if they had a bad experience or disliked a service than if the service was good. The tide has shifted somewhat in how people behave now that we have online communication and social media. Today, a person who likes something is likely to share with more than 1000 people over time due to the connections of others. Earning social proof is not something you can ignore if you want to market online successfully.