Understanding social proof for your business

If you’ve heard the phrase “social proof” and wondered what it meant for your business, then this article is for you!

What is social proof?

Social proof is both a marketing tactic and a principal of psychology. According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, who wrote the best-selling book Influence: Science & Practice, “the principal of social proof states that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.”

So what does this mean in practice? Consider this: if you are thinking about going out to dinner, how do you make the decision about where to go? Do you first ask friends, family, or peers that you know have the same tastes and budget as you do? Do you hop on Yelp or another online review site?

What is the driving force behind your desire to seek out others opinions on where you should eat? When our behavior is influenced by the opinions and influence of other people within society – that is social proof at work.

As a small business owner, social proof is a marketing tactic you can use to ease the mind of prospects and new clientele. One of the most effective ways to build social proof for your business is with certified online reviews.

According to The Pew Research Center: 74% of consumers believe it’s more than necessary to read online reviews from people who have actually visited a place of business and 82% of individuals read online reviews to research local businesses

We’ve discussed the importance of online reviews in previous blogs, and in terms of providing social proof to your prospects, we can’t overstate their worth. The Internet has provided clients with an enormous amount of information about your business before they even need to speak with anyone on your staff. And this means that what you present online must reflect your brand and provide a positive overall peek into what you offer.

But not all social proof is created equal

It is in your best interest to effectively leverage social proof, but not all social proof is created equal.

Less valuable examples of social proofweb traffic, social likes, shares, follows – while these might make your business look good, their ROI is often difficult to determine, and can fluctuate dramatically based on a number of factors

More valuable examples of social proof – any actionable metric such as testimonials, subscriber counts for email marketing and newsletters, ratings, and online reviews

Our advice? Focus on the latter grouping to attract new clients and gain their trust. Positive social proof is arguably the most influential factor in convincing a prospect to choose you over a competitor – in some studies even beating out the prospect of saving money or making a “responsible” choice. It’s human nature to trust a first-person account or experience more than a general marketing statement, and customer stories have always resonated deeply with customers. Stories are more persuasive and more trustworthy to customers than even statistics.

So what does this mean for your business?

Here are a couple things you can do right now to generate positive social proof for your business:

  • Request customer testimonials from a few strong advocates of your businessmake sure you get their permission to use their story in marketing and – ideally – a photograph as well
  • Increase your online review count – send an email to customers who have previously rated your business favorably and ask them to leave a review on popular social sites. Want help with this? Demandforce provides several customizable one-click review templates for you
  • Connect and engage your basedon’t just rely on bringing in new customers to your business. Create strong advocates for your business to tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. Save time by setting up automated recall campaigns based on customer data pulled from your current management system, like previous visit history and communications preferences.

Interested in learning more about how Demandforce can help you build positive social proof? Visit www.demandforce.com or call us to see a free demo: (800) 220-1136.

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