Social proofing: it’s something we do all the time, whether name-dropping people we know, places we frequent, or goals we share in common with another person. In short, we’re trying to inspire trust, safe in the knowledge that if one person buys into us, their network of peers will follow suit.
From a branding perspective, social proof marketing is the process of using this same mechanism to inspire people to purchase/use our product. Again, the same basic tenet applies. If one person thinks our product is ace, another person is more likely to think so too, and so on and so forth.
That’s not to say people are sheep, but it is to say that people will follow a leader.
There’s an old sales technique that door-to-door knockers often use: in smaller towns, they’ll tell the wary stranger that they’ve just had a good chat with the neighbors. Voila – social proofing in action.
The thing is: relying on this technique in a live, face-to-face context is one thing. Doing it digitally is even more important, because the networks are so much bigger. In fact, the best brands nail this marketing tenet more successfully than the competition.
Here’s what to keep in mind.
Make use of reviews and/or testimonials
How many of us buy a product off Amazon only after scouring user reviews, or checking out images taken in a home? There’s a lot to be said for giving people that platform to honestly rate what you’re selling.
Yes, user reviews can work against you should your product cause consternation. But this level of transparency has a positive knock-on effect, one that will see you take the feedback and improve the offering.
Then there are testimonials – no, not the staged kind where an actor is clearly reading off a script while cheesy music plays in the background. The subtler, smarter kind, where you invite people to enjoy your service while hinting that they’re set to join thousands of other customers. While you’re at it, why not show off the logos of companies who are on your books?
Finally, should you have any industry awards to your name, shout about these until the cows come home. Chances are, of course, that if you’re an award-winning firm, you’ve already got the social proofing game down to a tee.
Look to increase your social media following and engagement
You don’t need a million followers or likes to show your company is reputable. However, having a respectable amount can help when a potential new client or user is researching you or stumbles upon your social media pages. There are great ways you can organically increase these metrics. One would be engaging with your core demographic on the chosen social media platform. Taking actions such as liking their post, commenting on it, and following them can have a nice impact on who follows you. Additionally, on sites like Facebook and Linkedin you can invite people to follow and like your page.
Another great way to increase these numbers would be to run paid ads across these social media platforms. We know that phrase scares business owners sometimes, but fear not, many times you can do this on an affordable budget that will help to provide quick and premium results. Xceptional has even developed some product offerings to help busy business owners accomplish this goal. If that interests you just schedule a consultation with us.
Use SEO to your advantage
One way to social proof yourself by proxy is to increase your visibility on search engines.
After all, it’s one thing to pay for a position atop Google, but it’s quite another to earn that position on merit, and you’ll earn far more clicks by ranking organically (without paying a cent in the process).
SEO – search engine optimization – takes a while to get right, but it’s important to focus on a few fundamentals first:
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile.
In other words, your pages automatically resize themselves when viewed on a smaller screen.
Make sure you have meta titles and meta descriptions written that will be readable on a mobile screen (a meta title should be no more than 52 characters; a description 125). If you don’t set these, Google will auto generate them.
The meta title should have a phrase in it that you know people are looking for a lot. Including this phrase will help your ability to “rank”.
Ensure you are making use of a blog that you populate regularly. Google actually rewards websites that post a steady stream of fresh content.
Do make the images on your website lean; a site that takes an age to load is going to be penalized badly.
Pay attention to URLs: they should have a keyword phrase in them that you want to rank for. (Again, URLs are automatically generated if you don’t actively set them. Don’t let this happen).
In the end, digital marketing is a lot like face-to-face sales: many of the same human principles apply, yet on a bigger scale. Nail these fundamentals and you’ll take your brand to the next level in no time at all.