How To Take Full Advantage of Social Proof For a Low-Cost Biz Boost

419px-Pine_Bluff_McDonalds_1962_Sign (1)If you can find an old-style sign at McDonald’s, it will boast, “Over 99 Billion Sold.”

That’s probably the first example of “social proof” that most of us saw growing up. When Ray Kroc started broadcasting how many burgers his fast-food restaurants had sold, it was decades before the term “social proof” entered the popular vernacular.

However, as the McDonald’s sign illustrates, it’s not a new idea. Companies have been bragging about how well received their products are probably as long as there have been print ads. One of Elvis’ early compilation LPs was entitled, “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: Elvis’ Gold Records.”

However, the Internet Age has greatly accelerated the advancement and importance of social proof. There are more ways that we are able to send a social proof message to our users, customers and clients. I suppose the first fully web-based social proof was the visitor odometer we used to see at the bottom of web pages.

The long history of social proof and its rapid proliferation across the Internet serve as testimony to its power and that’s my real message today: If you aren’t using social proof to promote your business, you’re missing out on a very powerful and cost effective way to boost your bottom line.

Let’s summarize some of the main social proof tools and strategies you can use:

approval thumbs up public domainSocial shares. There are services and plugins that publish the number of times a webpage or an item on a webpage has been shared via social media. These are simple, inexpensive and most are DIY configurable.

Endorsements and testimonials. Publishing quotes from satisfied customers or clients is a powerful way to brag about yourself without having to do the bragging yourself. Be sure to feature these big enough and high enough on your pages for people to actually see them. People don’t drill down in sites very far. Bring them to your home page. They are also excellent on landing pages.

Celebrity endorsements. A subset of general endorsements is celebrity endorsements. Few of us are going to get Kim Kardashian on board, but in your local business there are probably community leaders who would serve this role.

Expert endorsements. Another subset is to get recognized experts to put in a good word for what you do. This is an especially attractive way to go in the B2B world. The general public might not know Joe Glotz, but in your industry he’s the go-to guru!

Online reviews. In ecommerce, honest online reviews are critical. There are services today that hook up to your ecommerce system to verify that reviewers are buyers and that further strengthens the social proof. If you can’t afford to build a robust reviewing platform into your website, spend energy establishing your presence on a third-party site, such as Yelp or Angie’s List.

The great thing about most of these social proof strategies is that they are either low-cost or no-cost, yet they can be your most powerful tools for increasing sales. If you aren’t truly leveraging them, bring this project to the top of your “to-do” list.

Sponsored by AT&T

McDonald’s Image: “Pine Bluff McDonalds 1962 Sign” by Bruce W. Stracener (WP Talk:Broooooooce) – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.