Last week I delivered a social media masterclass for a fellow entrepreneur, which touched on some simple tips for social proof.
The big question was not how to use and display social proof, but what to do when you don’t have it. Social media is one of the great ways to attract and share social proof – that is, a way to ease the minds of people concerned about investing in you. Or even parting with their email address.Social proof is a way to ease the minds of people concerned about investing in you.Click To Tweet
But if people click and see you have 33 Facebook fans and 10 Twitter followers, it can send the opposite message. Some of you may be in that boat now, where you have lots of channels but few followers.
My suggestion is DON’T display your social media icons (or low follower numbers) on your website homepage.
The first point is that they’re distracting, because they send people AWAY from your website.
The second point is to focus on building ONE platform at a time, rather than spreading yourself thin on numerous platforms and getting little results.
Of course, if you do have thousands of Facebook fans, then maybe it’s to your benefit to break the “distraction” rule in favour of building the trust factor for your brand. And there are plugins and widgets now that allow you to display a follower count, without the need for people to click on through to Facebook and disappear down the rabbit hole.
Ultimately, though, we’re looking to attract email subscribers and sales – because we can’t take a Facebook fan count to the bank!
So what do you do instead?
The aim of this post is to show you how you can find and display social proof if you haven’t yet reached a significant social media following. Not all may apply to you, but pick and choose the ones that do to help increase the number of subscribers and clients you’re attracting to your business.
SPECIAL BONUS: If you’re looking to increase your social proof, one strategy to do that is to increase your traffic to help easily achieve some of the below – like No. 1 on the list! Register to watch the replay of the Top 3 traffic-getting strategies for automation and scale… so you can STOP hustling free webclass!
11 ways to add social proof to your business to increase subscribers and clients
1. Display Your Social Share Count
Display social proof by using a plugin to show the social share count for individual blog posts. A great plugin I’ve recently uploaded to my blog is Social Warfare.
What I love most about this plugin is you can:
- use the free or paid version (I’ve opted for paid),
- display when you want the social share counter to appear (I’ve set it for when I have at least 10 shares on the post),
- finally display Twitter shares (which are missing on most plugins now due to a Twitter count change),
- activate UTM tracking
plus much more.
Here’s an example of one WITHOUT social proof (so, less than 10 shares on one post)
and here’s an example of one WITH social proof.
One of the keys when it comes to blogging is to have a strategy that involves 20% of your time and effort spent on creation and 80% spent on outreach. This will aid in your goal to amass a decent social share count to add “social proof” to your blogs.
To learn more about traffic-getting strategies for automation and scale so you can add more social proof to your blog posts, make sure to sign up to watch the replay of the free webclass.
2. User-generated content
One of the real values of social media is the ability to attract social proof through words and storytelling – rather than a bunch of numbers. I’m not just talking about the comments people leave under your statuses either. Although that can be powerful too.
But there’s other opportunities, like people sharing photos, videos or statuses centred around your business. Maybe you sell a physical product and have customers who have taken Instagram images of themselves with your product. This is a great image to repost to your own social channels as it allows others to imagine what it would be like for THEM to own that product. Stories are hugely persuasive, hence why I talk about storytelling so much.
If someone writes a status in a Facebook group about you, you can share this to your other social platforms and website (with permission).
If an influencer in your niche retweets one of your tweets, this is another way you can share how you’re on the radar of the heavy weights.
Here’s an example of author Margie Warrell sharing a tweet from a follower about her book, which she’s screenshared and then uploaded to Instagram.
3. Show media proof
It’s no secret that with 16 years as a journalist and five years running a PR agency, I’m a big advocate for public relations. A third-party endorsement from the media is a great way to show social proof.
Sometimes we aim to get media coverage for the simple reason we want to attract our ideal client. So we look to niche publications, local news outlets and online channels.
However, sometimes our aim is simply for social proof. We can gain media coverage in publications and news outlets our ideal client is familiar with and views as a leading news source.
Our affiliation with that media outlet, by displaying a “media cluster badge” showing those outlets, makes your ideal client feel like they can trust you.
Natalie Macneil displays her media cluster badge right inside her website header.
Take the media thing one step further and make sure to share if you’ve been quoted in someone else’s blog post, if you guest posted for a high-profile site or if someone gave a link back to your article or blog.
4. Create a testimonials page
There are many ways to use testimonials on sales pages and landing pages to help persuade your ideal client to want to invest in you. One tip is to ensure the testimonial you have on a sales page matches the point you’re trying to make in that section of the sales page.
However, an entire page dedicated to testimonials is also another way to provide social proof. There is an art to getting great testimonials. The reality is, if someone simply says “she’s great”, it’s going to do more harm than good.
Your ideal clients want to know what others say about the experience of working with you or using your product – from the hesitations they had before signing up through to the results you were able to help them achieve.
Take a look at your testimonials and see whether what you have is really adding or harming your brand. If you feel there’s no substance to the testimonial you received, go back to your client and work through it with them to find what the real benefits were of working with you.
And if you still can’t find something worth shouting about from within the testimonial, then choose to not use it. Because not having one is far better than having a weak one.
And if you don’t have any testimonials at all right now? Then I’d suggest creating a system where you can automatically attract well-written and valuable testimonials.
This is part of what I help business owners do – creating a testimonial system that saves them either forgetting to get them, having fears around asking in the first place or attracting poorly constructed ones.
And don’t forget it’s not just from client work, but also people who read your ebooks, listen to your podcast, read your blog or even consume your free opt-in. Here, you can get away with a simple one-liner that highlights the one message you want to get across.
Take Melanie Duncan’s homepage pop up, for example. It’s easy to see that this #WorkFromWherever Guide is going to inspire you AND have you taking action – a combination which makes the free gift far more valuable.
5. Write a case study
I can’t tell you how powerful this can be in your business. It’s one I know the value of after having done case studies for my blog. But it’s one, I’ll admit, I don’t do enough.
They take more effort than many of the suggestions here. But the real power is in the storytelling – something I talk about a lot.
If you can tell a story about what someone’s been able to achieve by working with you and maybe also provide some inspiration on how they can implement the same thing in their business if they’re not quite ready to work with you yet, then it can add real confidence to someone who’s looking to invest in you.
Here’s a great example from Brian Dean of Backlinko. By the way, how many other elements of social proof can you spot?
It’s not only for those in the “investment phase” either. But maybe you have people who can’t quite see the value in your service.
Maybe they’re not sure whether client pathways is for them, for example. By sharing a case study on a client who used client pathways in their business, the reader can start to visualise the possibilities it could bring their business.
Case studies are great for explaining the tangible results of what you do and really highlight the true benefits of that result – because often there’s greater benefits in a result than first meets the eye.
If I take the client pathway example one step further. Sure, you can grow your website traffic, email list and clients, but it also creates leverage because it’s systemised. It can free up your time to focus on other areas of your business or invest more time/money to leverage the results you’re already getting with the client pathway you’ve set up. It also provides short term results and long term sustainability for your business.
So while a testimonial might talk about the 20% email subscriber list increase and tripling of clients, it often lacks the space to really go into detail on what lies beyond that number.
6. Display user ratings
There’s so many user-generated rating systems now. You only have to look at sites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Business and Udemy. Here’s a great one on a yoga course on Udemy that has a 5-star rating from 341 users. Compare that to another course with 5 ratings and a 4.5 star rating. Which would you choose?
While most businesses worry about negative ratings on these sites, there’s something else you should be more concerned about. And that is 100% positive reviews.
People become a little suspicious if you get 5 out of 5 stars on every single rating. They start to question whether these are simply family and friends. Especially if you’ve only got five or 10 of them.
Of course, if you’ve got 100+, it starts to look a little more credible.
The point is though, don’t be disheartened by not having 100% perfect scores. People expect to see honest reviews. And if you can respond to any negative reviews to show you’ve gone the extra mile to solve their problem, then that can hold incredible weight with someone deciding whether to choose you and your business too. We starts to see that even if things don’t go how we imagine when we do business with you, that at least you’re willing to listen and help solve the problem.
That’s the sort of business I like to deal with. How about you?
7. Show off your numbers
OK, so maybe you don’t have 20,000 Facebook fans. But what other numbers do you have that you can share?
When it comes to numbers, maybe it’s your email subscriber list that’s significant. If you have a large number of followers, you want to display that right alongside your opt-in to join your list… on your homepage. You can add something like “Join 10,000 other media-savvy women for the PR eNews to gain insights on….”
When it comes to a product, maybe it’s been downloaded or bought 1000 times. People hate missing out. If they know 1000 people are in on something they’ve been excluded from, they’ll want in too.
Denise Duffield-Thomas uses this well on her About page when talking about her course having 1000+ women:
Even your Facebook group. Maybe you’ve amassed a strong following in your Facebook Group. When people download your free opt-in gift, you can let them know right there on the thank you page how they can join 5000 others just like them in your free Facebook Group, where they can learn xyz.
And here’s another number that’s REALLY powerful – ONE. If your book is No. 1 on Amazon, your podcast is No. 1 in your category on iTunes, your blog was No. 1 in a competition or you have a No. 1 bestseller on the New York Times Bestseller list, you’ll want to make sure you’re sharing that.
8. Celebrities and expert endorsements
During my journalism career, I spent 10 years as an entertainment journalist. I had the opportunity to interview music, film and TV stars from all parts of the globe.
It enabled me to learn a lot about PR, celebrity status and building a tribe. I also got to see how relative unknowns could become big in their niche purely by associating themselves with someone famous.
Well-known identities in your niche or celebrities who have even said nice things about you are a great way to display social proof. People use well-known identities to write the foreword in their books or display a quote on the cover of an album to help build trust in their product.
Think about your blog or podcast and how you can interview well-known identities that give you authority, celebrity-status and credibility purely by association.
This is a technique the likes of Oprah and Marie Forleo have used well with their TV shows (Marie’s being online).
Here’s another idea when we’re zeroing in on celebrity, you can also display who you’re collaborating with. Similar to showing logos from other businesses (which I’ll explain next), you can show that your program features a masterclass from a high-profile social media expert, or your software integrates with top CRM system Infusionsoft or your product is now a staple of the Golden Globe goodie bags. Now that would be cool!
9. Share your client portfolio and affiliation
Let’s say you don’t have testimonials yet, you haven’t gone about getting media coverage and social media is a bit lacking right now.
But you’re working with a big-name brand. THAT is a great way to share social proof (if the company is OK with you using their logo on your website and shouting that you’re working with them from the rooftop). The types of businesses you work with can be a great way to show social proof.
What’s deemed worth sharing and what’s not?
Well, it comes down to the ideal client you’re trying to attract. Just like media cluster badges or associating yourself with celebrities, it’s important to use logos from clients who your ideal client will find impressive. The business needs to be known and liked by your ideal client.
Here’s an example from Quuu, which displays its media cluster badge and affiliations right underneath where it wants you to sign up. Does that help you feel more comfortable about pushing the blue button?
10. Using certifications and titles
Have you undertaken study and gained certification that could show your expertise in an area? Do you have those little letters after your name to show your area of study? Or maybe you’re a doctor.
Using the “Dr” title in from of your name, or academic letters after it, can really increase people’s trust in you and your brand. Depending on your industry, of course.
Dr Kristy Goodwin has used her Dr title prominently as her URL and website header. There’s an element of trust in what Kristy says when it comes children and technology.
If you’re in the health industry, it goes without saying that this can really help people feel confident in wanting to work with you.
If you’re in other industries where you’re displaying badges for certification you’ve completed, be wary of which you choose to display. Ensure it’s a credible organisation and that it’s something your ideal client cares about.
If you’re putting up a badge from an organisation your ideal client hasn’t heard of or holds little credibility, then you may be better off not displaying it.
Take, for example, Digital Marketer. They have certification for different areas of digital marketing. But if you’re ideal client doesn’t know what Digital Marketer is or doesn’t deem it an authoritative organisation on learning in that area, then by all means go ahead and do the training, but question whether there’s value in displaying their logo. Maybe there is.
11. Develop a referral system
It’s the No. 1 trusted source of advertising, yet few people have a system set up to get clients and customers to refer them to others. When I work with clients, this is one of the steps we implement to help leverage their business.
Your happy clients are your biggest advocates, so ensure you have a system in place that allows them to refer you easily.
For many businesses, referrals from happy customers is their biggest source of new customers. How could even one new customer from each of your existing clientele change your business?
The next level down would be to create an affiliate system, so it becomes a compensated referral. It’s not as powerful due to people realising there’s something in it for you too (money), but it can still be effective.
Whether you’re using Infusionsoft like me and have the ability to use the affiliate system it already has built into it or you use a plugin like AffiliateWP, which easily integrates with your WordPress sites, creating an affiliate system isn’t complicated and can be well worth the effort.
Don’t just limit yourself to client referrals either. There are may social referral tools now that allow people to refer your free opt-in from a thank you page and invite friends to join an email list to earn discounts and offers.
BONUS: Social proof advertising
I’m giving you a bonus tip today, because I’m feeling generous.
There are many strategies for including some of the above into advertising to create social proof advertising. But let’s look at just one advertising platform – Facebook. We’ll focus on that simply because it’s accessible from a financial and ease of use perspective.
When you see a “sponsored post” show up in your newsfeed, do you become more intrigued in the offer being presented in it (free or paid) if others have liked, commented and shared that ad?
I have a client who is currently getting 89 cent conversions on an opt-in and looking at the volume of people who have tagged friends, colleagues and family into that ad, it’s no wonder. The social proof on the ad is significant.
And it doesn’t need to be a lot of social proof to help the ad either. Even a few likes can give people more confidence in engaging with the ad.
How can you have your ads attract more social proof?
Your next step
What I’d love you to do this week is Google yourself or your business and see what you find.
Look at what you discover through the eyes of someone finding you for the first time OR someone deciding if you’re the right person to invest in.
If you need help with generating more traffic to your website to allow for more social media shares, email subscribers and social trust, then make sure to catch the replay of my recent webinar to learn the top 3 traffic-getting strategies built beautifully for automation and scale.
NB: Please note, some links are referral links. This means if you choose to do business with the company in the future, I may receive a commission. I only recommend those tools that I truly love and know could benefit you.