10 Ways to Use Social Proof in Your Web Marketing Strategy
In Austin, Texas, there’s a restaurant called Franklin Barbecue that has people lining up down the street nearly every single day. People even camp out waiting for the place to open, like they do with Star Wars premiers and Black Friday box store specials.
While some of the BBqueuers have eaten at Franklin’s before and return as often as they can, there are inevitably people standing in line for sometimes hours who have never tasted a bite of their food before. Why are these folks standing in such a ridiculously long line?
The answer is a simple one: Because everyone else is.
The thinking is that, if all these people are taking time out of their day to wait for this delicious barbecue, Franklin’s must be damned good.
This is social proof in action. Not only is it incredibly effective in the real world, but it also works just as well in the digital world.
Here are a few ways you can use social proof in your marketing strategy to convince your customers that your products and services are worthy of getting in line to spend their hard earned money.
1. Customer/Client Testimonials
Want to convince new prospects that your products and services are the bee’s knees? What you need are cheerleaders. And who are your best cheerleaders? Your very best customers, of course.
Carol Tice is a successful freelance writer and freelance writing coach. Her vastly popular platform The Freelance Writing Den is so jam packed with students that you have to go on a waiting list to even be considered to join.
Does her freelance training work? Of course it does. One only needs to visit The Den landing page to see all the testimonials from happy customers to prove the effectiveness of Carol’s training and advice.
When using testimonials, do what Carol does and always attach the person’s photo next to their words of praise. This practice lends legitimacy to the review and assures prospects that the testimonials are real and not made up.
2. Case Studies
In everyday walking life, it’s common to say that the proof is in the pudding. Since you can’t serve tapioca to your prospects online, you’ll have to show proof another way. This is where the case study comes into play.
Case in point: LeadPages could write all day about how great their landing pages are at helping businesses gain more leads and earn more money, but until proof is offered those words are just that: words.
By offering proof that their quick-serve landing pages are indeed effective, LeadPages has quickly become the go-to service for businesses who want to ramp up leads quickly.
Instead of telling prospects how good your business is, prove it to them with a case study that showcases everything your business can do.
3. Celebrity Endorsements
Goop is a pretty silly name for a business, and the company sells items at ridiculously high prices. But because they have Gwyneth Paltrow as their figurehead and primary endorser, the organization does well.
You may not be able to get Gwyneth to speak highly about your products and services, but you might be able to find a local celebrity to speak highly of you, such as a politician or journalist. You never know unless you reach out, and social media allows you to that without leaving the comfort of your office chair.
In fact, OpenDorse offers five proven ways to get celebrity endorsements. Give it a try. You never know whom you might get to give your business a shout out heard around the world.
4. Expert Endorsements
Onnit is a supplement company that sells, among other things, a brain enhancement product called AlphaBrain. The product is said to enhance brain function, memory, focus and processing speed. But does it work?
According to neurosurgeon Dr. Martin Lazar, it most certainly does. Dr. Lazar is quoted as saying, “I know of no other product that can do what Alpha BRAIN does.” Wow, that has me sold.
The company is also endorsed by extreme athlete, comedian, and UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, as well as a host of other athletes, nutritionists, and professional fighters.
These expert endorsements work almost as effectively as a case study. In case you’re keeping score, Alpha Brain has one of those too.
It’s clear that Onnit knows a thing or two about social proof.
5. Mentions in the Media
Like Carol Tice, Jeff Goins is another writer who has taken it upon himself to show others wordsmiths how to make a living doing what they love.
Jeff recently sent out an email that contained this great example of social proof:
If you follow that link, you’ll be taken to the USA Today article that has this to say about Jeff’s new book:
The email that Jeff sent out could have gone on and on about how great his book is, but it was far more effective to point to the major news source that gave him a shout out.
I’m certain that his book is doing very well as a result. I haven’t read it yet, but that email caused me to put it in my Amazon Reading Wish List to be purchased at a future date.
6. Social Shares
Social Media Examiner is an excellent resource for keeping up to date with the latest changes in social marketing. The site also uses several elements of social proof that showcase just how popular the blog is with readers. Take a look at the image below that was taken from one of the platform’s blog posts.
On the left, you have the number of times the post has been shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Buffer.
On the right, you have a note inside the email opt-in box that uses a tactic McDonald’s became famous for. Remember 1 Billion Hamburger’s served? Social Media Examiner has more than 450,000 subscribers, which is a testament to how influential the platform has become.
Then, underneath the opt-in, you have the total amount of followers the platform has. 350,000 Twitter followers? The blog must be doing something right.
All of this probably makes you want to sign up for Social Media Examiner’s emails and to follow them on social media. After all, all those hundreds of thousands of folks can’t be wrong, can they?
7. Blog Comments
If you want to know how to make your web visitors convert (sign up, download or buy), I highly recommend you sign up to the Social Triggers newsletter.
Derek Halpern is an expert on web psychology, and each of his blogs offers critical advice for helping you advance your marketing strategy.
The proof is in Derek’s blog comments. Each post has a conversation after it that proves just how much readers appreciate the advice Derek offers.
The comments also allow you to see the community that Derek has amassed at a single glance. Instead of telling you how many followers he has, he shows you with his blog comments.
You can amass comments on your own blog by asking questions and encouraging your readers to leave their thoughts. Don’t shut your comments section down, which I see other blogs doing. Even if you get negative comments, it’s a great way to connect with your audience. The more comments your blog posts have, the more others will want to join the conversation.
It’s like hosting a party and everyone’s invited. The more invites you have, the more newcomers want to join. That’s the power of the blog comment in a nutshell, and it’s one more powerful element of social proof.
8. Ratings & Reviews
A recent study showed that 70% of consumers trust online reviews when making a purchase. Amazon knows this and uses the tactic well by offering a five-star rating system and allowing customers to leave reviews.
I’m pretty sure no one orders on Amazon without checking the reviews first (I know I don’t). If you have a product or service that has been rated and reviewed on a site like Amazon or GlassDoor (see the image below), feature it on your website to show prospects just how popular your products and services are with consumers.
A high rating and plenty of positive reviews will grease the skids for even more business and higher revenue. Use this fact to your advantage. Whatever you do, don’t force your customers to visit sites like the ones I just mentioned to find out how well your products and services are liked by others.
9. Bestselling Items
You can draw attention to your best products and services by offering a Most Popular section on your website.
EyeBuyDirect is my go-to source for inexpensive yet high-quality eyeglasses. I’ve purchased products from them several times, and I always visit the Most Popular category first. Why? Because I’m a sucker for social proof. The tactic is effective. In fact, the glasses I was wearing this morning proves that it does.
Freelance Writer, Mentor, and Author Linda Formichelli offers one-on-one coaching for freelance writers who can’t quite seem to get to the elusive next level. While her coaching sessions aren’t cheap, they sell like hotcakes. Where’s the proof? It’s in this simple note on her Renegade Writer website:
By simply mentioning that ‘spots may be opening up soon,’ you can just imagine an entire group of people who are enjoying her services. Linda is so booked up; she doesn’t have time to take on any new cases. That fact alone makes me want to sign up for her waiting list to become the next satisfied customer.
If she was offering her coaching at $50 and didn’t have a waiting list, I might not sign up at all. But the fact that Linda is so popular that she’s practically swimming in clients proves that her services are in high demand, offering the social proof that makes me want to sign up stat.
Use one, a few or all of these elements of social proof in your marketing strategy and you’ll soon have a line around the block waiting to buy whatever it is you’re offering, just like Franklin Barbecue.
Now I’m hungry and kind of wish I lived in Austin.
Have you successfully used social proof in your online business? Leave a comment below telling us about your experience and let’s get the conversation started.