In pursuit of industry dominance, social proof is one of the most valuable currencies you’ll come across, with the power to create brands from mere businesses and turn a company vision into a mission complete.
If you’re wondering what on earth social proof is and how you can enjoy your fair share, your search for answers is over. Six Circles was founded to give brands the tools they need to manage, engage and grow communities. This puts us in an ideal place to help you use social proof as a catalyst for creating a thriving community of your own – and it’s time to find out how.
What is social proof?
Social proof is defined as “a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation”. It’s a term coined by Robert Cialdini in the seminal book, Influence, released in 1984. Otherwise known as ‘informational social influence’, social proof is, essentially, any verbal or non-verbal endorsement of a person or thing that evidences the merits of said person or thing.
For you, this means any endorsements you can earn or generate that substantiate the quality of your product or service offering, customer service or brand as a whole – illustrating to others that your brand is worth investing in, whatever form that investment may take.
The good news is that generating social proof is well within your control (as long as your product or service offering, customer service and brand as a whole are deserving of praise, of course). The even better news is that social proof comes in all shapes and sizes, making it possible for any business under the sun to amass its fair share.
Whether on Google, your own website or a third-party platform like Trustpilot, Yelp or TripAdvisor (depending on your line of work), customer reviews can be found in all kinds of places. Regardless of the format, though, these honest, often detailed accounts of the service you’ve provided to past customers serve as reliable evidence of the value you’re delivering.
If you stand by the quality of your products, the standard of your customer service and the overall experience of engaging with your brand, make it an active mission of yours to prompt reviews from recent customers to ensure a steady stream of new, positive feedback for public consumption.
Testimonials are similar to customer reviews in terms of their content, but generally find their home on the websites of businesses keen to broadcast their achievements and, in doing so, bolster their online reputation.
When it comes to formats, a testimonial can take the form of a written quote, video or audio file, interview or blog post – meaning the world’s your oyster when it comes to creating a dynamic, multimedia testimonials page or content hub. The one disclaimer is to seek out and publicise the opinions of your most articulate and discerning customers, as well as respected peers and, ideally, coveted influencers.
Social media endorsements
From Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Instagram, without even really scratching the surface of the many, many social media platforms at your disposal, you’ll find opportunities galore for driving and identifying online endorsements from satisfied customers.
Whether your brand is being messaged directly with the good news, mentioned to other users in a public post or even tagged in a dedicated product review, gathering these social media endorsements and sharing them liberally will give all those who rub shoulders with your brand (and all those who rub shoulders with them) the incentive they need to shop with confidence.
Awards, accolades and memberships
Although easier said than done, accruing relevant awards and similar industry accolades will stand you in great stead when it comes to illustrating the quality of what you’re offering. From general business awards – of which there are many – to more targeted awards given by major blogs in your space, you’ll typically find you’re able to nominate your own business rather than waiting for some kind soul to do the honours on your behalf. Should you win, giving any award-related badges pride of place on your website is a no-brainer.
Memberships are another worthwhile route to explore, with membership options available for all kinds of niche organisations – allowing you to elevate how your brand is perceived, if you’re able to demonstrate some admirable shared values. This is particularly easily done by ethical and environmental businesses, for whom there are associations and initiatives galore to become a part of – but from industry bodies to trade associations, there are options for everyone. Again, just remember to ensure any flattering membership badges are shown front and centre on your website.
While they may have evolved a little in terms of format in recent years, case studies are still alive and well as a medium for B2B lead generation – especially when it comes to social proof. Unlike customer reviews and testimonials, though, case studies are all on you. Whatever structure you may choose for yours, the message should remain the same: there was a problem, but you solved it in a way only you could.
By all means, incorporate multimedia content into your case studies. In order to appeal to all kinds of digital users – including those with shorter attention spans or a passion for visual stimuli – it’s best to have all bases covered. Done right, case studies can nurture ‘window shoppers’ into paying customers or clients, making this timeless format well worth the long-term investment.
Finally, it’s important never to underestimate the power of data – particularly data that shows your brand is an objectively good investment.
From ‘X% of customers enjoyed a greater quality of life after buying this product’ to ‘Y% of clients saw a 200% return on their investment’, market research tools like polls can generate these kinds of persuasive data, which you can then shout from the rooftops (by which we mean plaster all over your website, in your monthly newsletter and across your social media accounts).
Our suite of community engagement tools were developed to help business owners build their own following that’s engaged and, as such, primed for positive feedback. Find out more about the Six Circles platform today to prosper with the help of social proof.