Social Proof as Your Sales Weapon: Why the Opinions of People Matter?

January 4, 2016 | Digital Marketing

social-proof

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Nearing the end of 2015, everybody – even those who are not really into marketing – knows that social media marketing has been one of the key pieces in a successful marketing strategy. However, one of the most important and often overlooked elements that make social media marketing work is social proof.

What is Social Proof?

Word of mouth has and always will be one of the most powerful marketing tools in the world. In online marketing, social proof has the same effect as word of mouth marketing – but it does so in a much more efficient way.
Let’s take a look at how word of mouth works. If a consumer shares positive experiences regarding a brand, a person who knows or trusts this person will be more likely to have the same perception. In the social world, these experiences come in the form of reviews, comments, ratings, or any other form of feedback. And thanks to the growing reach of various social media platforms, the same perception or behaviour can reach more people at a much faster rate.

This is the phenomena known as social proof, and it has turned into one of the most powerful marketing tools in the past few years.

Optimizing Social Proof

Social proof can be optimized through effective social media marketing, influencer marketing, and through other advertising efforts. But as more marketers discover the power of social proof, patterns emerge and proven techniques are identified.

It’s all about knowing who your audience trusts and how to tap into their influence. With these in mind, here are the best types of social proof you can utilize for your online brand:

Case Studies

Educating an audience about a brand or product requires the presentation of clear and relevant information. This is essential for building trust and establishing your authority. For social proof, you need to take this a little further by going a litter in-depth.

“You don’t just use too much information and technical jargon to sound credible,” says Gareth Bull of Bulldog SEO Agency. “Whatever you do, don’t make your content sound like a textbook. This will make your content boring. Instead, incorporate a little storytelling and write a case study.”

A case study’s main purpose is to shed light on every single detail of a product, service, strategy, or idea. This is done by putting yourself into your audience’s shoes and by showing them exactly how something runs and how effective it can be. Remember to look at every possible angle and be as thorough with your case study. If possible, point out a few flaws to show that your case study is unbiased.
A good example would be how this particular case study highlights the skyscraper technique, which is a good social proof strategy by itself.

skyscraper-technique

Notice how all the technical data is presented through visual form to prevent boring the reader. On the other hand, everything else is laid out chronologically so the readers can relate to the experience.

Things to remember:

  • Present information in a story-like manner
  • Use visual content for technical data
  • Explore every detail and be unbiased

As Featured In

Not only is linking back to credible sources advantageous for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it will also benefit your readers by pointing them to the information they’d be interested about. This will give the impression that your content is optimized for user experience.

Moreover, you can successfully establish your authority as an information provider by focusing on what online content should do, which is to educate readers. Of course, you can also take social proof to your advantage by highlighting where your brand was featured. You can do this by having an “as featured in” section in your page.

There are plenty of online brands that do this. It doesn’t have to be complicated as well. Take a look at the “as featured in” section of Accident.biz.

as-featured-in-section

Things to remember:

  • Link back to contextual sources that your audience will be interested in
  • Have an “as featured in” section for the most relevant/trusted brands

Testimonials

Going back to word of mouth – what do online shoppers usually do before buying a product or service? They check online for customer reviews and testimonials first.

Testimonials are the direct equivalent of word of mouth in the digital world. First of all, consumers will definitely relate to reviewers who probably had the same problem as them – the problem that they were trying to solve before dealing with a brand.

Thanks to social media networking websites, it is definitely easier to promote the reviews you want your consumers to see. Additionally, you can have your own testimonials section in your website so that your audience no longer has to look elsewhere.

Appearing authentic is crucial if you want testimonials for social proof to work. One of the best methods is to include only the testimonials from credible identities, like well-known brands or popular thought-leaders. Additionally, make sure your testimonials are also educational and mention the benefits of your brand. Take a look at how well-known brands like oPower highlight the most important testimonials for their business.

Things to remember:

  • Only feature testimonials from the most credible people
  • Testimonials should also focus on highlighting the advantages of your brand

How about you: how do you leverage social proof and what types of social proof do you use on your site to drive more sales? Let us know your ideas by commenting below!

Christopher Jan Benitez is a content marketer during the day, heavy sleeper at night, dreams of non-existent brass rings, writer by trade, pro wrestling fan by choice (It's still real to me, damnit!), and family man all the time.

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