The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Social Proof

Have you ever bought something based on a testimonial from someone else? That, my friends, is social proof marketing.

Social proof is the idea that people will conform to other people’s actions when they reflect the desired behavior. Here are some examples:

    • Testimonials on a website
    • Product reviews in an online store
    • Social media tags and mentions from customers
    • Media or brand logos on your website

Social proof is excellent to have but highly damaging when done incorrectly. Here’s some of the worst advice we’ve ever heard about social proof.

Make up your own social proof until you have actual social proof.

Social proof is all about building trust. If you’re a new business owner and don’t have any social proof yet, the worst thing you can do is create false reviews or claims about your brand.

It’s an unethical practice, and it undermines the integrity of your business.

Before you launch your business, ask 10-15 people to use your product and ask them for an honest review or testimonial in return.

Any social proof is better than no social proof.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “any publicity is good publicity?” Well, that doesn’t apply to social proof.

Too many testimonials in one place can appear forged, while not having enough testimonials can give the impression that you’re not a credible brand yet.

It can be hard to know how much is too much (or not enough), so here are some general tips to follow:

Testimonials: Add at least five testimonials on your website, specifically your home page and services page. Add 1-2 testimonials on your about page.

Brand and media logos: If you’re using a ribbon banner on your website, you’ll want to feature between 5-7 brands that use your service or have featured your work.

Social media shares on blog posts: Some bloggers add a social media share counter to their website to show how many times readers have shared a specific blog post. Generally, you can start adding social share counters when your blog posts reach 500 shares.

Negative social proof inspires positive action.

Negative social proof can be less effective than a positive call to action.

If you haven’t heard of negative social proof, it’s a statement that uses negative examples of behavior to influence positive behavior in favor of your brand.

Let’s use a skincare brand as an example. They create a social media caption that says, “80% of women don’t have a nighttime skincare routine. Shop our products to start your nighttime routine.”

The intention is to show their audience that there aren’t enough women who have a nighttime skincare routine while promoting their products to solve that problem. This messaging can have an adverse effect, which would cause them to say, “if 80% of women don’t have a skincare routine, why should I?”

My customers don’t use social media, so I don’t need to focus on social proof.

As we can see, social proof exists beyond social media. As a business owner, you don’t want to ignore social evidence on your website or social media.

Studies have shown that over 60% of consumers read reviews before deciding to purchase a product.

So even if your audience isn’t active on social media, it’s likely that they’re still researching your product, service, or brand before committing to buying from you.

If you haven’t added any social proof to your content marketing strategy, it’s not too late to get started. Seek out five testimonials from former customers or clients to add to your website. Then, highlight those reviews on your social media platforms. The keys to using social proof are honesty and transparency in the messages that you share.

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