Word-of-mouth has always been the most popular — and effective — form of marketing. It’s fairly unlikely that any other form of marketing will be able to best it in the future. It works because of a little concept called social proof.
What is social proof?
Social proof is when people copy the actions of others simply because they want to conform — regardless of whether they’re making the right choice or not.
Take crossing the road, for example. Most of us, when we’re on our own, would look both ways at least once before crossing. Accompanied by one or two of our friends we might take a glance to make sure it was safe but within a large group – think about the masses in Tokyo or New York City – we simply cross with no thought as to whether it’s safe; everyone else is crossing, of course it’s safe!
Even if you’ve not heard of social proof before, we can bet that you’ve been on the search for it before! If you’ve ever spent time looking at the reviews, asked friends and family for recommendations or even if you’ve seen someone on the street using a product that tickled your fancy, you’ve been seeking out social proof.
The more followers/likes/comments someone has on their social media profile immediately creates a positive perception to anyone looking at it. Everyone else seems to like them, they must be alright, is the rationale. Even in physical stores we’re looking for social proof — 58% of the consumers Retail Dive surveyed used their phone to research products while they were in a brick-and-mortar store.
How can you get social proof?
Social proof is not a mind-blowing concept but getting it can sometimes seem impossible, especially if you’re still establishing yourself as a business. Here are some ideas you can use to start building the social proof for your business:
- Positive reviews and testimonials (Check out our guide to getting great testimonials here)
- Grow your social media following
- Shout about the numbers of users or customers you have (hit a milestone? Tell everyone!)
- Get recognised — through awards and certifications
- Take speaking engagement opportunities
- Encourage your audience to share your posts on social media
- Get endorsements from celebrities or influencers
- Ask people you trust for LinkedIn recommendations
It can be difficult to get the ball rolling on your social proof. Ever noticed how the tip jar always seems to have coins in it? It’s the hospitality business recognising that their customers are more likely to tip if other people have done it before. Your social proof is a bit like that and it’s okay to fake it ‘til you make it. Never make up testimonials or reviews. Feel free to ask people to contribute — you don’t have to wait for influencers to come to you, you don’t have to wait for the testimonials to start coming in on their own.
Be intentional about asking your customers and your supporters to do just that – support you. Social proof is the wind that can fan your little spark of a business into a full-blown bonfire. Don’t hesitate to take the initiative, it’s invaluable.
Not sure where to start with social proof? Incredible Communications can help. Email us at http://www.incrediblecommunications.com.au/#contact or call 0414 711 107.