Social Proof : What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Picture this scenario: you are traveling to a new town and you want to experience the best pizza in that area. What do you do? The majority of consumers will start by searching the web from their smartphone for the best pizza. Next, they will read review after review and might even post a question to their social media networks asking for input. Beyond delicious tasting pizza, what is it that they are really looking for? Social Proof.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people depend on the actions of others to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. Social proof tends to occur in social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, so an individual will rely on surrounding people to possess more knowledge about the situation. Think of it like getting a referral from your best friend. You need help finding a service, you trust their opinion, and therefore you use their referral.
Social proof is not a new marketing concept it has been around for decades. One timeless example we have seen time and time again are testimonials in advertising. With the rise of social media, social proof has become exponentially important. With the ever-growing Internet and instantaneous access to just about everything, we as a culture value online reputation. It’s not just about how many Facebook followers you have, although that does sway people’s decisions, but consumers want to see brand transparency, so they can trust your brand and feel confident in their decision making.
Why is Social Proof important?
Consider this: In a 2013 study, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations before making a buying decision. This statistic alone should tell you how important social proof is for your business. Review tools such as Yelp, Facebook page reviews, Tripadvisor, Amazon reviews and so on, give people the power to share their positive and no so positive experiences, which ultimately influence the purchasing habits of others.
How to use Social Proof in your Social Media Strategy?
In today’s world with 92% of consumers reading online reviews vs. 88% in 2014, social proof can make or break your business. Here are three social networks that can help you leverage social for your business:
Facebook pages for businesses are constantly evolving. One way to leverage Facebook is to have social integration in your website. Use one of Facebook’s social widgets, such as a like box, to inform the viewer of your brand presence. This function will feature the amount of likes on your Facebook page and also may showcase the individuals who like your page. Both functions will give the viewer validity as to why they are on your website and who supports your brand.
Similar to Facebook, you can also include a Twitter widget on your website that demonstrates recent interactions, tweets, and conversations from your Twitter feed. This will show viewers your engagement with your social media customers, creates brand credibility and trust.
Yelp is one of those review tools that can really damage your reliability and online reputation if you are not monitoring your presence. When people have a not so good experience, they not only want you to know about it, but they also want to forewarn others. Yelp is not as scary as some may think. It is, in fact, a really great tool for both small businesses and consumers. One way to use Yelp to boost your online reputation is to be active on it. Whether someone makes a negative comment or has a positive experience, respond to it in a positive manner that showcases your brand identity. If it was a negative experience, apologize and try to make up for it. Other reviewers will see your proactive efforts and may still consider your services.