It’s the bias that directs us to follow the crowd; it assumes that the sheer weight of quantity has parity with its value. “Ten million people can’t be wrong!” scream Home pages. And so we switch off our own reasoning faculties and respond with an enthusiastic and impulsive, “No they can’t!” Still, social proof is an effective way to boost your business. Below are five strategies you could try.
1. Expert social proof
Heard of the Tim Ferris effect? Well since you’re interested, Tim Ferris is an American best-selling author and super-successful entrepreneur. The Tim Ferris effect refers to the impact a blog post on his website can have on the poster’s business – the Tim Ferris effect can make your career, it’s reported. This is the power of expert social proof; it leverages the power that a credible expert or thought leader holds.
Tip: Has any expert mentioned either your business or any of your products in their work? If so, publicise this in as many places as possible, for example your website, your newsletter, in your tweets, etc. Similarly, if any of your products or work has featured in the media, make sure you publicise this too: many websites will include an “As seen in …” with the name of the publication to publicise any positive press in addition to a range of media logos to elevate their credibility.
2. User social proof
Testimonials are perhaps the most obvious example of this, and it is their objectivity that is key to their success. Sites such as Yelp and a host of others encourage users to leave reviews about the places they’ve been, and these reviews are hugely influential to users. Another effective way to leverage user social proof is to use ratings/scoring systems on your sites so your customers can rate various products. A good example of a company that does this is Sephora, whose elegant rating system also reveals the sample size.
Tip: Collect testimonials from your best customers and sprinkle them strategically on your website. For example, place them on the pages where your customers are most likely to visit; where they are most likely to be seen. Don’t limit yourself to the written word – consider using video, too.
3. Pure social proof
Why do so many websites publish their most popular posts? Or the number of people their businesses serve? Or the number of their followers? This is social proof that leverages the power of numbers, and it will flaunt itself with the use of badges, follower counters and a myriad of website plugins to broadcast this to you and me. And it works: if 200,000 of your peers subscribe to a particular website, you’re likely to do the same, right?
4. Celebrity/Influencer social proof
The more influential the celebrity; the larger the reach of the influencer, the more powerful the social proof. Also included as influencers are trusted sources such as government certifications or logos of independent, respected bodies that bestow accreditations or acknowledge a level of excellence. A number of websites will also add the logos of powerful companies they have worked with on their websites, which is another way of leveraging the power of influencer social proof.
Tip: If you are unsure of the influencers in your space, consider using a tool such as Klout to help you identify them. Use your connections to try and get your product or service in front of them and publicise any positive comments.
5. Social proof through friends
According to an article in TechCrunch, it was the power of friends inviting friends to play that helped to elevate the gaming company Zynga from 3 million average daily users to 41 million, within a year. Friends will refer each other and are influenced by each other.
Tip: Find ways to encourage your customers to invite their friends to take part in events you run. For example, you could offer incentives or run competitions that encourage friends to get involved.
Have you used social proof in your business? If so, please leave any additional tips in the comments below.