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10 Types of Social Proof to Add to Your Website

Social proof is the phenomenon that people are influenced and persuaded by what other people are doing. Barbara Corcoran has a nice line, “Everyone wants what everyone wants; no one wants what no one wants”. It’s why millions of people buy iPhones; why a particular restaurant is always busy; why teenagers dress like their friends and so on. We may believe we are strong independent thinkers but other people’s choices exert a powerful influence over us.

When you’re looking to buy, say, a washing machine you probably gravitate towards the model with lots of good reviews and discount the (perhaps equally good or even superior) model with zero reviews. If everyone says “Buy Model X300”, you’ll likely go with that choice. It’s not difference when it comes to selling your expertise and offers.

Social proof has clear applications in the world of marketing and here we show you how to harness its power to promote you and your products and services.

Simple ways to add social proof to your website

  1. Flash the badge. Are you a member of a trade association? Do you have a prestigious industry qualification? Are you affiliated with a respected organisation? Let your visitors know.
  2. Harness the halo effect. When you associate with influencers, celebrities, industry A-listers, that prestige reflects onto you. Interview the interesting names in your space; feature them on your podcast or vice versa; have your photo taken with them; write guest posts; find ways you can help them; collaborate with them on projects; offer them your product in return for a testimonials. As you associate with them, your social proof rises in the eyes of others. It won’t happen overnight and you don’t want to be pushy or over-familiar – but persevere and be intentional about reaching out to influencers.
  3. Blow your trumpet. You can’t be timid in this industry. If you do great work, you need to let the world know. Share your achievements on social media with a simple tip related to the achievement, that people may find useful (remember, always add value where you can).
  4. Develop your portfolio. Your portfolio is a vital tool for demonstrating the quality of your work and building social proof. It’s particularly useful when you’re just starting out and have no proof to speak of. In that case, you create “concept projects” where you demonstrate your expertise in a fictional assignment (but a real branded client where applicable). For example, if you’re a content marketer, you could create a fictional campaign showing how you would use content to boost charitable donations for The Red Cross. Concept projects are often seen by the brands in question and consultancy opportunities can arise – however, just be sure to specify in your portfolio that it’s a concept project.
  5. News and media mentions. Share any news and media appearances you make. Have a simple “as featured in” section on your site.
  6. Client list. Put the logos of clients you have worked with on your site. This is immense social proof.
  7. Client testimonials. Always ask your clients for testimonials. It’s the ultimate social proof. Not enough experts do it. (If you have no clients yet, ask friends and family to review your product or service. Private message members of forums in your target industry asking if they will review a free copy of your offer).
  8. Client success stories. Be sure to share the success stories of your clients who used your product or service. Your clients will appreciate the recognition and share it with their network thereby increasing your reach. It’s win-win.
  9. Tell the story in numbers. Show how many people use your service, e.g. 1o0,607 subscribers, 202,317 members and counting, 1,005 sites built to date, 523 shares etc. Large numbers impress and build credibility.
  10. Social mentions. Set up Google Alerts to track when others mention you; keep track of tweets and Facebook comments; share links to authority sites you appear in and so on. Screen capture relevant mentions and add them to your site as applicable as further social proof.

Takeaway points

  1. Social proof is an extremely effective sales method.
  2. In relation to the work involved to acquire them, customer testimonials are the best form of social proof.
  3. As your stature grows, make harnessing the halo effect a priority.

Action steps

  1. Ask your clients for testimonials.
  2. Are there “easy wins” in the above list that you can employ on your website today? Start with one and start adding that on a regular basis.
  3. Concentrate on creating great content to share with your target market and link back to a landing page to grow your subscribers. A large audience in itself boosts your social proof and makes other social proof catalysts such as news and media mentions and the halo effect easier to acquire.

Photo credit: baldiri via Foter.com / CC BY

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