Social proof comes when a potential customer has a way of attaining information that a group they trust recommends what they are choosing to invest in(time, money or otherwise).
Don’t shoot me for the cliched marketing reference to Apple but, this is exactly why the iPod headphones were white. The device would have otherwise been hidden out of sight in the users pocket, but they made the headphones a visual symbol that the customer was using an iPod. When people started seeing their friends and everyone down the street with these white headphones it created social proof for the product. It creates the thought of, “that many people can’t be wrong”.
How can we make this apply in social media?
Thankfully the programmers and owners created this as a main benefit of their platforms. The count of likes beside your name, the number of followers, and the comments are all visual representations of the social group that finds value in your online presence. So it’s not only important to get these numbers up, but to display them in as many valuable places as possible.
Where to display this proof:
- Beside the “Follow on Twitter” button on your website there should be a number of total followers(if it is something you’re proud to display at that moment). There are lots of great widgets available to help you do this.
- Post a social media update thanking the (insert number) subscribers to your blog. Giving your social follower proof that others find your blog valuable.
- Incorporate social “like” and “share” buttons on website content with numbers of how many others clicked those buttons as well.
- Choose some testimonials or favourite comments you’ve received on social media and display them on your website.
When is it bad?
Social users are getting more savvy. They’re learning more about the technology and culture, and the quick cheater numbers are increasingly more obvious. So don’t try to buy your social proof, and work it from the ground up instead. There are lots of people selling followers or RT’s or Like’s, steer clear because you’re most likely wasting your time.
And it goes without saying but I’ll just quickly mention again that if your numbers are really low, maybe consider leaving them off your screen until you have something a little more impressive. However keep your share buttons and links visible and usable.
The other thing common on Twitter is for people to follow others who have followed them. This is a great way to say thank you to your new followers, however, it is greater social proof if you follow 100 people and have 10000 followers. It means you didn’t just follow everyone you could in hopes of getting followed back. So consider trimming down who you follow to leave space for the social proof.