Research Reveals How to Establish Social Proof to Grow Your Business

Social Proof Business

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Marketing is all about positioning. Your job is to get in front of your ideal client and cultivate and grow the perception that you are the best choice in the marketplace.

And to achieve that, your ideal client must trust you.

While most people think about using celebrities in their marketing, like on TV commercials, to be over-the-top expensive, that’s not always the case. You can be creative in how you approach celebrities and use their status to your benefit.

Simply being able to offer the product or service that your ideal client is looking for isn’t enough. As they evaluate their choices they go through a process in their mind where they score several factors before making a decision.

They consider factors like:

  • Are you for real (or are you faking it)?
  • Do you have the experience?
  • Will they enjoy working with you?
  • What makes you better/worse than the alternatives?
  • Can they trust you?

These are all important questions in the minds of your ideal client, and it’s unfortunate that many consultants don’t give them much consideration.

To increase your chances of being viewed as a trusted provider and partner, let me share with you several ways to establish the necessary social proof.

Categories of Social Proof

Techcrunch wrote a great article that breaks down social proof into 5 general categories.

They are:

1. Expert Social Proof

This can be when you or your business is talked about in the media, by a blogger, magazine or other source considered an expert in your market place.

For example, when Maclean’s, one of Canada’s largest national magazines featured me in an article on Small Business Customer Loyalty, I was able to use that to further enhance my own credibility and authority status.

2. Celebrity Social Proof

We all know some celebrities…or at least who they are. While most people think about using celebrities in their marketing, like on TV commercials, to be over-the-top expensive, that’s not always the case. You can be creative in how you approach celebrities and use their status to your benefit.

For example, when I did an interview with Kevin O’Leary (of Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank fame) many people were blown away by how I was able to get an interview with Kevin. The truth is, it wasn’t hard at all and it didn’t cost me or my company a dollar.

Sometimes you can offer celebrities other benefits that won’t have you paying a great deal of money. It could be equity in your business, free product or service, or bartering.

University research discussed on Social Triggers actually shows that you can receive a great benefit simply by placing the photo of celebrities on your marketing materials (if you’ve given the ‘okay’ to do so). The fact that people see a celebrity on your materials – regardless of whether or not their photo has anything to do with your product or service – often spills that credibility over to you.

3. User Social Proof

This type of social proof happens when your actual clients and customers talk about your product or service.

A study by HBS showed that a single star increase on a Yelp review can actually lead to a 5-9% increase in sales.

User Social Proof goes beyond Yelp however. Here are other types of proof within this category:

  • Customer Reviews – These days customer reviews are standard on e-commerce sites. I often find myself scrolling down to read reviews of a hotel or a new camera before I even read the other details. And when I’m trying to decide between two options, I’ll almost always choose the one that has reviews vs. the one that doesn’t. Here a review for Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Chef:
    4 Hour Work Week Review
  • Social Plugins – These are the number of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ shares your website or blog post has received. The more you get the more it shows that people like you and your content – and the greater credibility it builds. (Please do like and share this post with the social share buttons on the left of this post!) Social plugins on Quicksprout.
    Quicksprout
  • Customer Forums – Many companies offer forums for their customers where they can ask questions and get answers before they make a purchase or get help after purchasing with support. When a forum is well maintained and it’s clear the company is there to help their client – it demonstrates believability and builds trust.The WarriorForum is all about forums:
    WarriorForum
  • User Statistics – “Consulting Success has over 650 articles, interviews, case studies and products for consultants by consultants. The site receives over 30,000 unique visitors each month and growing. We have consultants and professionals from over 80+ countries that have purchased our materials, with thousands of clients using our consulting products to become more successful.” Doesn’t that help in establishing our credibility? Of course it does. When you have statistics that can help establish your credibility, use them. One big question prospective clients will ask is…”how popular is this service? Are others using it?” Respond to that question before it’s even asked by sharing your company’s relevant statistics. Mailchimp clearly uses this to its benefit:
    MailChimp
  • Client Logos – Maybe you’ve been featured in the media. Perhaps you’ve worked with some very well known companies or brands? If so, consider including their logo on your materials as a way to say “We’ve been featured in this media”… or “Some of the clients we’ve worked with…” By association and proof that you have a connection to these brands you can leverage their power for your benefit. Relagy Marketing has a page where it shows client logos:
    Relagy Clients

A cool way to integrate testimonials is through Twitter comments left about you or your brand. For example, the below are just a few real tweets from some of Consulting Success’s followers.

These are real, they’re authentic and believable.

4. Wisdom of the Crowds Social Proof

In Techcrunch’s article they share some great examples of this category of social proof. For example:

“Fashion e-tailer Modcloth enables its community to “Be the Buyer” by voting on which styles they think Modcloth should sell in the future.  Shoppers take strong cues from the community; styles with the “Be the Buyer” badge sell at 2x the velocity of un-badged styles.”

“Callaway Digital Arts finds that when any of their kids’ iPad apps is listed as a top 10 most popular app in the iTunes App Store “Top Charts,” daily downloads vault 10x over the prior week – but being the No. 1 most popular app drives 30-50% more daily downloads than being No. 2.”

Think about this category of social proof as being approval by a large group of people that you don’t know. Yet, even without a direction connection to them, their sheer numbers translates into a credibility boost for you.

5. Wisdom of Your Friends Social Proof

This category of social proof occurs when your friends and people you know directly influence your decision. To shift the perspective, think about an ideal client whose business you want to win. If someone they know has only good things to say about you, or during their research of your firm, they see that others that they know have positive feedback they are much more likely to want to work with you.

There are many ways this kind of social proof is being used these days. From Google search results that show if one of your connections +1’d the site or page…

In LinkedIn you can get a recommendation and endorsement from many people on your work…and through the way LinkedIn connections show, there could be a good chance that your ideal client is connected to someone that you both know (but you didn’t know that you did). This again brings you more credibility and trust.

This is what Recommendations in my LinkedIn account looks like (these are just a few):

LinkedIn

Facebook is another. When one of your friends likes a brand page, you’re likely to see it and trust that brand more simply by seeing that your friend did.

Listen, if you enjoyed this post, please do take a second to share it with your colleagues and friends by Tweeting it out, putting it on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. Simply use the buttons above and to the left.

Please Share This Article If You Enjoyed It:

  • waako garvin

    great value, beautiful knowledge

    • Waako – thanks so much for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Jenna

    Just found your article here and really really love it. Thank you!!!

  • unitedvirtual office

    Yes! Micheal, it looks like you did a great research, article is fine.