Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation. - From Wikipedia
What others say about you and your business is 1,000x's more persuasive than what you personally tell them. This is why public relations and inbound marketing can be so much more effective than traditional "outbound" marketing tactics like advertising.
Examples of social proof
Social proof occurs when an individual makes a decision based on a larger group.
For example, Bob buys the new Bruce Springsteen album because he saw The Boss profiled on 60 Minutes--plus his three buddies all bought the album. Bob figures the album must be pretty good.
Or, Janice rushes out to (discreetly) buy a copy of 50 Shades of Grey because she overheard a group of young women talking (and blushing) about it in Starbucks.
As consumers, we're exposed to examples of social proof every single day thanks to the advertising and PR folks on Madison Avenue.
This screen shot from the Neave Group Facebook Page is a great example of social proof in social media.
Social proof and your website
Social proof can be very subtle, yet very powerful. And it takes very little effort to add a dash of social proof to your website.
Here are a five proven ways to add more social proof to your website:
1. Customer testimonials as social proof
Many of you probably already have a page on your website dedicated to testimonials from your clients. While this is a great idea, don't forget to add a few testimonial snippets to your home page as well.
Or how about adding video testimonials? Now that's serious social proof. Below is a promotional video produced for Neave Group Outdoor Solutions that features two of their happy clients.
2. Customer tweets as social proof
You must be popular if people are talking about you on Twitter, right? Show your website visitors the Twitter chatter surrounding your brand by embedding indiviual tweets or a widget full of happy-customer tweets on your website.
3. Add a press page
Maintaining a press page on your website is a great way to regularly add fresh content to your site.
It also adds a degree of social proof.
Your press page can include news releases, articles you've written, and most importantly, articles that you've been featured in. You can even mention awards your business has won.
4. Let visitors know what your business has been "Featured In..."
I'm seeing more and more of this lately. In fact, I've added this same element to the sidebar of my speaking page; only I call it "Recent Appearances".
The point is to show website visitors (in a visual way) where your company has been featured or mentioned. This is powerful social proof.
As you can see below, Hootsuite includes the logos of the various media outlets they've been mentioned in. You can do the same if your business has been featured or mentioned in your local or industry media.
5. Display your number of followers, fans and readers as social proof
At Landscape Leadership we consider these types of numbers to be "vanity metrics". They look good...but they don't necessarily translate into success.
However, when you only have three to five seconds to grab the attention of a visitor to your site, an impressive Twitter following or number of blog subscribers can give you instant credibility.
LandscapingNetwork.com displays their total number of Facebook "likes" in the sidebar on their website. The social proof is magnified when a visitor actually clicks over to their Facebook Page and sees how vibrant their community is on Facebook.
How have you added a touch of social proof to your website? Do you find yourself unconsciously forming an opinion of a company based on any of these elements? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.