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Social Proof: What Is It and How to Cultivate It

Written by on July 09, 2018

Social proof is essential if you want to alleviate hesitation of any potential consumer. Parting ways with hard-earned money can invoke uncertainty to new customers – unless they can verify positive experience of doing business with you from other sources.

People are thirsty for information and feedback – with the help of the internet, accessing it all is easier than ever before. It’s in your best interest to present the social proof to the feasting eyes. People want to spend money, you just have to eliminate the reluctance that an individual may have when considering you as an option.

Consumers are eager to learn about the company and the product they are interest in. In fact, over 90% of consumers read online reviews and 84% of them trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends. You are probably part of that 90% who hunts down a review or two to confirm the notions preconceived about the product or the company itself. That’s social proof in action.

All this boils down to the simple fact that people need affirmation. It’s a case of “you first” and if you come out okay, I will follow. Your job is to bring the attention of dubious consumers to the experiences of the ones who braved the water first.

Testimonials

If you do your job well, chances are your customers will walk away satisfied and willing to do business with you again. Within the client’s circle of friends, word may get around about your work, potentially leading to an influx of new clients. What about leveraging client satisfaction on a larger scale?

Make an effort to gather testimonials from your client base to inform a larger audience of the results achieved by your company. There is no need to confine yourself when you can rely on your online presence to exemplify client satisfaction.

Example of a testimonial from a customer.

Whether it’s on your social media profiles or a website, the testimonials you publish should be easy to reach. Remove as many barriers (i.e. clicks) between the reader and testimonials. After all, you want the validation to be easily accessible – avoid creating a social proof scavenger hunt.

One critical mistake that businesses make when attempting to garnering testimonials is waiting too long to ask. If you’re goal is to extract a thorough testimonial, you want to begin the process soon after fulfilling your services. The encounter that the consumer had with you will still be fresh allowing them to disclose honest and detailed experience that unfolded between you two.

Certifications

You are running a business and perhaps you’ve gotten really good at what you do. Oh who am I kidding, you are good at what you do – otherwise you wouldn’t have started your own enterprise. Maybe you’re part of the elite few to have acquired certifications, accreditation and accolades for a job well done – flaunt it.

  • Energy Star – products that are energy efficient can qualify for this certification.
  • PEER – industries that improve efficiency, reliability, and overall resiliency of products and services may be qualified for PEER certification.
  • BBB (Better Business Bureau) – many businesses opt-in to get accredited by BBB. If your enterprise is committed to ethical business practices and improving customer satisfaction, you can apply for accreditation.
  • B-Corp – companies that strive for transparency, legal accountability, and environmental responsibility may be eligible to get a B-Corp certification.

Above I have listed some of the available certifications that a business may qualify for. Of course there are a lot more certifications available and some will vary regionally.

BBB accredited window replacement company.
BBB accredited window replacement company.

Social proof can be bolstered with relevant certifications that acknowledge your fair and satisfactory business practice. Some customers may even base their trust solely on these certifications – if you have them and your competitor doesn’t, you win.

Social Media Interaction

Social media is an effective digital marketing tool that most business have embraced. It provides a great way to communicate with the audience while at the same time providing the means to relay social proof to the masses.

Business’ social media pages tend to be a public domain that’s easily accessible to anyone. This means that curious people are able to sneak a peak at your profile and start forming opinions of you and your company.

How you present yourself on these platforms can have an incredible effect on the audience perception. Your interaction with customers, promotional efforts, and even the follower count play a role in social proof development.

Utilizing Influencers

For the new kid on the block, establishing a solid online presence and developing reliable social proof may take a bit of time. Influencers can expedite this process, and provide validation to a large audience on your behalf.

Much like you, influencers are tending their content for a specific target audience. Before reaching out and invoking the help of an influencer, you need to find the right influencers that share similar target audience.

Variety of platforms serve as a medium for influencer marketing. Browse through influencer directories to find the right individual to help you promote.

Customer Counters and Logos

You may have come across websites that exhibit logos or client counters on their pages. Working with notable companies can invoke a sense of pride for you as well as elevate your status in the eyes of the consumer. Customer counters posses similar qualities.

Think about this from a potential customer’s point of view. A list of notable clients who trust the service may abolish any doubts you as a prospect could have. You would feel at ease parting ways with cash knowing fully well that many others did so before and didn’t get burned.

HubSpot provides notable clientele list and other metrics in order to garner social proof.
HubSpot provides notable clientele list and other metrics in order to garner social proof.

The logos of your previous clients, or partners should typically be found on the front page of your web page. If you decide to include a customer counter, it should be on the front page as well. Now before you jump in and start making any changes, reach out to those companies and request their permission to display their company logos.

More often than not, companies won’t hesitate to grant you permission.. It would be silly to forego free advertisement and you get the added benefit of fostering social proof.

Statistics

Some individuals follow their heart, while others are more inclined to follow numbers. Presenting eye-opening statistics to those on the fence may coax them into lending you an ear.

It’s easy for companies to spout vapid claims about the benefit they bring, but it’s a whole other ball game when the claims need quantifiable backup. Offering statistical support can spark up thoughts, aspirations, and validity in the reader’s mind.

When you include phrases such as – “our clients managed to increase productivity by 20% with the help of your services,” newcomers begin contemplating that increase in their own scenario. Along with aforementioned testimonials, it’s a strong method of generating social proof.

Guest Blogging

People don’t always associate guest blogs with top tier content. Cutting corners and reaching out to low-quality publishers isn’t the way to guest blog, although it may seem like the simplest option.

Reaching out to quality websites and blogs will be your best bet in securing social proof. Once you publish content on their pages, you’re also elevating SEO efforts and squeezing in a bit of self-promotion.

In the eyes of the reader, you’re exerting dominance in the industry when a third party publishes your content. While contemplating who to reach out for guest blogging opportunities, make sure the publishers are relevant to your industry. It wouldn’t make much sense if your content about revolutionary graphics cards makes its way to a gardening blog.

If you decide to incorporate guest blogging, stay consistent with it. Create a content calendar with topics and potential blogs you would like to reach out to to keep yourself organized.

Keep researching potential blogs and websites that are applicable to your business – aggregate a list with contact information. Never settle down on just a few publishers that have shown interest. You may get a few “no” responses once you have made the effort to communicate, but don’t let that discourage you. Keep trucking on.

Reviews

Straight from the horse’s mouth method – reviews. Users publicly disclose the encounter they have had with your business. Google My Business gives you an option to gather consumer reviews as well as get listed on their map platform. Anyone who has done business with you, can leave comments, state concerns and grant you star ratings.

Social proof can be cultivated through user reviews.
Specific searches on Google pave a way to variety of review sources.

Yelp along with Facebook give businesses the opportunity to gather valuable feedback and consumer reviews on their platforms.

Negativity

Reviews give people the power to express their experiences. Since most reviews are written on the web, accessibility is there. You will encounter unsatisfied customers or people who just wish to befoul your good reputation, but that’s the price of establishing an online presence.

You may have to make a conscious effort to interact with some of these individuals to help save face. Accidents on your end may happen that lead to less-than-ideal results. Customers can become vocal about the faux pas and review you poorly. Responding to these concerns and admitting faults may alleviate the damage brought on by a negative review.

Other times, individuals will go out of their way to brew up false stories during the review process. Address any false claims promptly. There may come a time when you will encounter fake reviews that attempt to taint the image of your business. This is especially crucial if your company is in its infancy – any bad review whether real or fake, can leave a lasting impression on anyone who comes across it.

Here’s an example –

Social proof can be generated through accurate review responses.
A business responds to a customer who made false claims.

If you let these reviews build up without acknowledging their falsehood or perhaps an honest mistake on your part, it will propagate a bad image. Positive social proof can easily be bolstered by interacting with these types of reviews.

Remove Doubt

Social proof attempts to provide confirmation that you’re a worthwhile business. It’s difficult for consumes to submit themselves to a product or a service they haven’t encountered before and that’s where social proof comes into play. You must supply evidence of your results which will mitigate any doubts.

We have covered the pivotal methods of securing social proof. Now it’s up to you to implement these tactics.

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