Social Proof is a Critical Factor of Influencing Buying Decisions
You see examples of social proof everyday… beyond client testimonials, case studies and customer reviews; it’s in the star ratings on Amazon, the number of likes of Facebook, the video views on YouTube and followers on Twitter.
Be recognizing how social proof affects buying behavior, you can look for ways to leverage it to establish trust and credibility for your products and services.
Just the other day, I was searching ITunes for movies to download to my Ipad for a cross-country flight. I was considering a few new releases and realized I was making my selection based on the number of stars a certain movie had. Then I thought to myself “I don’t know these people, yet here I am letting their opinion impact my decision.” In reality, their opinion may not mean squat about whether or not I’d like the movie. We’ve all been to 4 star movies that were crap and we’ve seen movies that were one star that we really liked. Even so, the star ratings of the movies influenced my selection.
Recent statistics tell us that 74% of consumers trust peer recommendations (social proof) and only 14% trust advertisements. Even if you don’t agree with the stats, you’ll agree that you’re influenced by what your friends, peers and independent recommendations say, more than advertisements.
It’s hard to ignore the power of these recommendations from people with whom you’ve done business. Buyers want to purchase from someone they feel they can trust; by displaying testimonials on your site, your prospects are getting a third party endorsement which helps them feel confident they’re making a sound decision. Testimonials can come in multiple formats, from text, audio to video and I love to use short video testimonials because it captures the authenticity of the client.
You can capture them with a video camera, Webcam or even a simple Flip® USB camera. Post them on your website or on a video sharing site like YouTube. Testimonials should be used like spices… salt and pepper them throughout your website, product landing pages, use them on thank you pages, auto-responders… just don’t overdo it.
Without going too far off topic, it’s important to recognize that “media exposure” can be categorized into two main types… Social Media methods and Traditional Media. Social Proof includes both types. When your prospects read your name in print, hear you on the radio, or see you on TV, it helps to influence top-of-mind awareness. They come to regard you as an expert resource, and ultimately, someone they might like to do business.
If you’ve been published or featured in traditional media sources, then showcase it (tactfully) on your website. You can do this in a number of ways. Create a news release or add the appearance to a media section or media page on your website, or by displaying the source and media logos on your website… Yes, get permission or take your chances.
Mystery Searching a.k.a., Mystery Shopping
This is a simple exercise that you can do right now. Just go to your favorite search engine, Google™, Bing™ or Yahoo™ and type in your keyword phrases to see what shows up on the Search Results Pages (SERPS). For example, if you search for “Ford Saeks” you’ll see that it’s impossible to not be able to find out more about me than you care to know. My websites come up first, followed by Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube, Naymz and various articles and blog postings. Yes, that’s easy because my name as a search term is unique and there isn’t much competition on that keyword phrase.
Top rankings in the search engines are only part of social proof. Research shows that more people are now concerned more about how many followers they have on Facebook pages, comments posted to their blogs, re-tweets on Twitter, connections and recommendations on LinkedIn, and views on their uploaded videos.
So what about You? Go back and look at your level of social proof that you have on your website, on social media websites and throughout traditional media sources and create your action plan to step up the volume.
I’d love to hear what you think about social proof; post your comments below.