What is social proof? As defined by Wikipedia, social proof is “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation.” To put it in layman’s terms, social proof is the positive influence created when people find out others are doing something – now, suddenly, everyone else wants to do that something too.
Social proof can be very powerful, so if you want to harness that power and use it to your business’s advantage, here are a few key ways to do so.
Approval from an Expert
Also known as “expert social proof,” a business that’s recommended by a credible blogger, critic, magazine, etc. can see a dramatic increase in traffic and sales. For example, let’s say a magazine in your niche mentions your business in a positive light. If they’re a credible (i.e., popular) magazine, you can see a real impact on not only your website traffic levels, but your potential sales as well.
You’ve seen commercials with celebrity endorsements, but few internet startups have done this. The few that have, however, have met with real results. Take ShoeDazzle, for example. The monthly shoe club launched with Kim Kardashian as the face of the brand, and in 2011 they raked in 70 million dollars in sales.
Other companies, such as Priceline.com and Beautymint.com, with William Shatner and Jessica Simpson as spokespeople, respectively, have also managed to harness the power of celebrity social proof to amazing effect.
Popularity Social Proof
You can harness the power of social proof for your business by highlighting large numbers of users or sales. Let’s say you run a clothing store online. You can follow the example of Modcloth.com by letting consumers choose the styles you sell, with the most popular styles being the products chosen.
Modcloth has managed to harness this method of social proof by engaging their community to feel like they are part of the company’s business model, and the styles chosen by the community end up selling at 2x the number of other styles.
How can you make this work for your business? Highlight a popular product or service you offer with real numbers, which will imply to those that visit your site that “X amount of people can’t be wrong.”
You can do this with your RSS feed subscribers and social media followers too, if you have large numbers in those areas. There’s power in numbers, and this method of social proof is beginning to prove that.
Social Media Followers
If you truly want to harness the power of social proof, build a dedicated fan base on various social media accounts for your business. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to draw attention to your brand and the products you offer, and studies have shown that people are more likely to purchase something based on a friend’s recommendation than not.
With that being said, take the time to build your followers on the social media accounts you have. This not only gains exposure for your brand, but also allows your current followers to attract even more followers (i.e., potential customers) to your business.
Some of these methods may not be realistic for your business, but you can start to employ at least one of them to increase your social proof. It takes dedication and active engagement with your followers, but once you start to build a little bit of social proof, you’ll see that it grows faster and faster over time.