When I need some down time you’ll find me reading books that inspire my business world. Recently I completed the book Influence, by Robert Cialdini. In it the author speaks about the ways that compliance officers – people that want you to take action – get their way. From sales people, to marketers and even the Hari Krishna, all are using compliance techniques to get you to take the action they want. Here is one in a series of relevant learnings from the book, especially how they relate to advertising and marketing. These tips can be used by small and large businesses effectively. Today we focus on social proof in marketing.
This concept speaks to what happens when you look to others to find out what you should do. It answers questions about places to eat, businesses to partner with and places to go.
Like most ideas described in the book social proof is a shortcut. It’s a way to let the decision maker know whether past patrons like or dislike a place.
In social media social proof is easy. There’s a certain perception benefit businesses get when they have followers and reviews. Have you seen a restaurant on Facebook, Yelp or Twitter who aren’t engaged? The food may be good, but if people aren’t talking about the business there’s an element of doubt. If the restaurant doesn’t post content on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp then there’s a lack of social proof. And while the business may be awesome, the lack of digital footprint allows the consumer to question whether the place is a good fit.
Marketers can use social proof to their benefit in three ways:
Create Social Media Content
Post relevant content. If you’re a restaurant post foodporn. If you are a marketing business educate people about the work you do. If you are a pet store highlight products, customers and pets. If you are an app show use cases for the app in simple pictures.
Like, comment and share other people’s photos and videos if they are customers, potential customers, or if they are in the same space as you. Be part of this community so that anyone talking about restaurants, pet stores, competitive apps or competitive businesses know that you are around, that you are relevant, and that you know that space intimately well.
Acquire Social Followers
This is important. If a tweet is posted to an empty account did that tweet actually exist? On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube there are important and unique opportunities to acquire targeted followers. Why do this? Because it presents social proof. When you have a few thousand local followers it looks like you are doing something. It shows you care, you engage and that you are part of the community. Importantly, the posts you create reach a larger audience.
Be Part Of The Community
Social media is about engagement and understanding. It’s about multiple streams of dialogue where you give customers and prospects a channel to reach you by. That channel is intimate, it’s always on, and it’s a preferred method for your customers. Speak to the world that you live in and the community that you serve. If you are a restaurant talk about events happening in your area. If you are an app talk about the community you serve. If you are a business to business service provide value for your customers, so they find you and expect you to help them.
Fundamentally social proof in marketing is about perception. When the consumer has a few seconds to look for something of interest what are you doing to help them with that search? You prove your business value by being in that engagement, showing that you readily have your customers best interests in mind, and that you have a volume of active and engaged fans.