A straight forward definition of social proof is to gain recognition and acceptance from our potential customers for our product and service offers.
For example, if you hear and notice that your family, friends and business colleagues are talking about a great restaurant they’ve just been to for a meal, or movie they’ve seen that they loved, and they recommend these to you, then you’re more likely to check them out to have the same experience. Or you might buy their latest kitchen gadget or download the new app they’re raving about.
Why do we do this? Well, because someone you know and respect has approved their purchase decision and experience after using it. And you in turn now have a ‘perceived’ interest because of the reduction in the risk. In other words, you avoid the uncertainty of being ripped off as it seems to be a safer bet when someone you know, like and trust recommends their purchase and results o you.
It’s like following the crowd …in the proper circumstances, when a lot of people are doing something, it seems the right thing to do.
So, in general, we humans don’t like to take risks. Many scientific experiments over a number of years have shown that people are more inclined to avoid risk than move towards making decisions that are new to them and they’re not sure about. And the opposite is often true… When we feel comfortable that our peer group are doing the same thing, the chance of things going wrong is reduced.
Social proof, therefore, gives us more confidence to make purchasing decisions. Which means, if you want to make your potential customer prospects feel confident in making a product and service purchase with you, especially online when they don’t yet know, like and trust you, and you have to persuade them to try your product, this is where social proof can play a key role in turning buying decisions into actual purchase conversions.
So, how do you put social proof to work for you?
There are a number of ways for you to use opportunities to take advantage of social proof in your business. Here are some ideas and tactics to help convince a sceptical audience…
Customer reviews and testimonials: When you produce these properly with genuine customer feedback on your products and services they’re pure gold. What you really want to do is to create these personally with your delighted customers …about the results they got after they have successfully used you product and service.
Reviews can be shorter with a number of them grouped together either stationary or moving on your website, blog and social media sites. Whereas testimonials are a longer case study appraisal of the before and after circumstances of your customer. This then leads into an account of success outcomes and a summary of how others can get the same results with you, followed by a recommendation to take action. It’s also good to use photos of both the people and the results. In addition, using videos showing your customer and your products in action are a very powerful form of social proof and can get even better results.
Real up-to-date statistics: Technology now makes it possible for you to add a simple plugin to your website that shows potential buyers visiting your sales page how many people have purchased one of your products, or a training package, or coaching service that your offering. And as visitors to your site watch the numbers increasing, the social proof also increases. It’s kind of like the line outside of the Apple Store that conveys the image to others that the Apple products must be a good if so many people are waiting outside in line to buy.
Analytics and brand mentions: Google alerts, brand mentions, and real time analytics are updates that notify prospects when your business or products are mentioned on online portals and on social media sites. This is great social proof for your business as it gives you the opportunity to respond and engage with potential clients.
Social Share Count: This is a great kind of social proof to have for your business, because it means you can display the data for the number of social shares you’re getting on your various social media channels, or how many times one of your blog post has been shared. You can also add social share counts to any page on your website, including landing pages and your individual product and service pages.
In summary, social proof gives you genuine opportunities to grow your business by using evidence of proof to gain customer trust both offline in brochures, newsletter testimonials and advertisements, and online through customer reviews, statistics and data, alerts and social share count. So put social proof to work for your business today, because it really does matter!