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Marketing gets psychological - The wonders of Social Proof

Posted: 03 September 2014

Whether you're a recruiter, marketer, candidate or business owner, the battle for consumer attention is rife. Yep, we're all looking for new, better ways to lure and retain interests and email addresses. It's not an easy task. With spam clogging up our inboxes at an otherworldly rate, it's no wonder we are a tad suspicious and hard to reach.

So, if traditional tactics of exclamation mark-clad adverts and digital pestering aren’t working, what do we turn to next? Well getting back to human nature and the inner working of our behaviour sounds like an interesting place to start…Hello Social Proof. Part-psychology, part-better practice, this notion and tool has started to seep into email marketing and online engagement. In a nutshell, it’s all about tapping into how we naturally think and behave, and using it to acquire followers, consumers and relationships.                                                                                         

Fancy building and using your own Social Proof? If you’re looking to get more email subscribers, connect better with audiences or influence action, get savvy here!

What is Social Proof?

Essentially, it’s classed as ‘Informational Social Influence’. This means we are wired to conform to the decisions of large groups of people. It’s like we don’t want to miss out on knowledge or info that others have so it sways us to follow the crowd. So, when you see an email that says ‘10,000 subscribers to date’, we think ‘hhmmmm, there must be something good here that I’m missing, 10,000 folk can’t be wrong’. That’s Social Proof.

Whether you’re after email addresses, conversions or simply more followers and better connections, this nifty thinking can help massively.

There’s lots of different types of Social Proof. Think of all the things that sway and steer your online actions. What makes you hand over that email address, download an ebook or sign up to those newsletters?

  • Celebrity endorsement or big brand names?
  • The approval of industry experts?
  • Relatable user stories?
  • Friend’s shares, favourites and recommendations?
  • Impressive numbers?

Using and owning your Social Proof.

The best uses of Social Proof revolve around showcasing, careful use of language and good placement of social tools and functions. For instance, remember when Spotify and Gmail were ‘invite only’ launches? This made us all want to be part of it. This is fantastic SP in action.

  • Trust boxes - From industry awards and certificates to Yelp ratings, these recognisable icons of familiarity and reassurance are instant trust builders. Don’t be sheepish about putting your awards on your homepage, parade them for all to see.
  • Social likes / shares - Putting a Tweet this or Like symbol in blog posts or product pages do wonders. Not only do you spread the message over the social waves, you build up those numbers. With every Tweet or Like that number rises and encourages more of the same.
  • Customer reviews and ratings - Nothing builds sales and reputation like an amazing review. It’s what Ebay is all about. Put these reviews front and centre, develop them into more than a blurb. Add these into monthly newsletters, social media posts and such like, make them the cornerstone of your brand.
  • Testimonials - Another winning technique, testimonials are one of the most common forms of Social Proof. Putting real life people to views and opinions has a massive impact on how we perceive a service or product. Many people research testimonials so be sure to include the company name, photo and full name of the testimonial-ee.
  • ‘As seen in’ - We’re all swayed by placement and association. Fashion uses this form of SP amazingly well. Affiliation with other brands, publications and media is Social Proof 101. This increases desirability and prompts a ‘follow the trend’ behaviour.
  • Influencer / celebrity endorsements - Especially effective for ebooks and email subscriptions, featuring the name of an industry influencer is a big booster to numbers. Tech startups see crazy results from featuring the likes of Apple or Google so seek out and feature the name or logo of an industry favourite. It’s a mark of value and quality that doesn’t get ignored.

Social Proof needs to be treated with respect and care. Too many use their poorly, creating badly worded examples or overkill efforts. Do your research and observe what form will work best for your audience. If saving money is a biggie, use stats and comparisons alongside user stories of success. Don’t jump in and just play the numbers game, that will lose impact quickly. Figure out what’s unique about you and your community and shape content that drives them in a positive, sharable way.

Do you like this stuff? Then join over 19,000 other awesome people who get tips on improving their employer brand, recruitment and marketing delivered directly to their inbox. (look at me doing the Social Proof;))