Social proof is “informational influence.” It’s what the internet says about you when you’re not around to speak for yourself. Social proof is something I found myself referencing numerous times this week.
Once was in discussion with my web blog designer, working through a redesign of my site, on the importance of having media logos and designations prominently placed. Another time was while discussing possible speaker recommendations for the upcoming Canadian Internet Marketing Conference with a colleague. I was recommending a speaker from Australia, who I knew planned to be in Canada around the time, following her appearance at Social Media Marketing World. I felt confident in my recommendation, despite only having “met her online”, interacting through email and video, because my impression had been formed outside of that, largely on social proof. We had had numerous online exchanges, and the beginnings of a more personable relationship having made plans to meet up in San Diego at the conference. I knew she would bring solid value, plus I would likely benefit through having recommended her, thereby associating my brand with hers. Who knows if it will wok out, but that is the power of social proof in action.
Social proof comes in many forms through photos, video, articles etc, and can be represented on our owned, rented, earned and embedded media. I’ve excluded paid media here, since social proof is not a “pay to play” model. Social proof is earned, and therefore generally more trusted.
Let’s take a look at our media, and how to leverage social proof.
1. Owned media: These assets include things like your website, blog, enewsletter, podcasts and webinars. Here are some ways to leverage social proof on owned media:
- Publish testimonials. They’re third party objectivity and add credibility.
- Feature certifications, seals and badges.
- Feature client logos.
- Mention subscriber counts for blog followers or enews subscribers. People want to join others and not miss out. Social Media Examiner suggests you should follow and read what over 250K subscribers are receiving. It makes you think you’re joining a winner.
- Blog about earned media, and feature logos of those outlets.
- Blog about embedded media, where you have written for, or been broadcast by a well-known channel with extensive media reach.
2. Rented media: This includes social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pintrest, Vine, Youtube etc. While you customize them like your own property, often decorating them like a home and taking ownership, ultimately someone else owns them and can change the rules at any time. Here are some ways to leverage social proof on rented media:
- Share influencer endorsements. The more relevant and influential the endorser, the more powerful the social proof.
- Share when certifications are earned.
- Share earned media, publicity and coverage online, in print, TV or radio.
- Allow subscriber and follower counts as well as connections, and strive for high numbers.
- Allow social share counters for blogged content, and strive for high numbers.
- Share on social media embedded authored articles or broadcast shows hosted.
3. Earned media: This is third party endorsement. In the traditional sense it is when a print of broadcast media company publishes something about your business, giving it visibility, without you paying for it. But it could also include other online media like the Huffington Post, industry authorities through their social media, or well read blogs. Here are some ways to leverage social proof on earned media:
- Be aware of ratings and reviews sites, and strive to deliver a great customer experience, while monitoring and responding to any concerns. The clout of external review sites will vary depending on your industry, and whether you think they are valid or not, your customers likely use them. Aim to show up well.
- Keep track of article links, reviews and mentions, and use media and logos in your marketing.
4. Embedded media: This is where you publish or broadcast as an author using the reach of an established platform. Here are some ways to leverage social proof of embedded media.
- When you have the authority to publish or broadcast on a well known channel with huge reach, because you have knowledge, be sure to note this in your marketing materials, as well as in your owned and rented media.
Social proof is how you show up online, and much of what you do in leveraging it through your media properties will influence how you appear in a Google search.
In an age of online, good marketing starts with paying attention to social proof.
I am thrilled to be a sponsorship partner of the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference, taking place April 5-6, 2017 in Squamish, BC, just north of Vancouver on the way to Whistler. Now in its third year, the event will attract 1,500 CMOs, marketing directors, business owners and agency folks. LINK HERE to learn more about the amazing line up (with a few surprises yet to come!) As a valued member of my online community, I am able to offer a discount promotional code to save you $200 on registration. Use the code “social200” and you’ll be in, way cheaper then on your own. Hope to see you there!
Consider your social proof. Then leverage it through your media. It will be some of the best marketing you do in 2017!