Social Proof: What is it and how do I get it? [with infographic]

queueHave you ever walked past a nightclub with a large queue outside and thought ‘What do they know that I don’t? I need to get in that club.’

Have you ever read a testimonial from a famous author, saying how good a certain author’s new book is? Did you think ‘I need to check out this new author?’

That’s Social Proof in action.   Wikipedia defines it so:

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

In essence, it means that we conform to the actions of others, because we assume these actions to be correct. It’s why ‘exclusive’ clubs have queues – to make you think you’re missing out on something. It’s why some social clubs have a ‘waiting’ list – makes it seem more attractive. ‘A lot of people want to get into this club, they can’t all be wrong.’

This compulsive concern that we are missing out on something, drives us to make particular decisions. The choices that others make can either attract or repel us towards or away from a particular choice.

There are several kinds of social proof that we, as authors, can tap into:

‘Expert’ Proof – Take the example earlier, an author you hold in high regard gives your book a recommendation, could have a positive impact on your sales. This works because these authors come packaged up with their own social proof in that they already have established credibility. Anything they are involved with is seen more positively. Imagine what getting a testimonial from a famous author on your landing page could do for your sales. It doesn’t have to be Stephen King. If you are a blogger, getting a positive comment from another respected blogger can provide the social proof that you need.

‘Celebrity’ proof – Similar to the above, having an endorsement from a celebrity could do wonders for your sales.

‘Other User’ Proof – This is proof of a product’s quality (or lack thereof) as described by people that have previously used it. This could present itself by way of reviews or feedback – think your book reviews.

‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ proof – We obtain this form of proof from large numbers of people taking a specific action. For authors, it might be purchasing your book, or it might be the number of subscribers you have on your blog.

‘Wisdom of your Friends’ Proof – We already see this with social media, for example, Facebook shows the things that our friends ‘like’, as does Twitter. We value the opinion of people that we see as being like us. Try to follow up with customers, and get them to refer their friends. How about offering some form of incentive to encourage this behaviour?

How can you use this knowledge as an author?

We are all looking for ways to get people to trust us, which, in turn, we hope will lead people to purchase our books. We are, in fact, looking to provide that social proof to potential readers who may never have even heard of use before they land on your website’s landing page. So how can you do that?

Customer testimonials on your site – If you have some fantastic reviews, place them front and centre! If it looks like people have had good things to say about your book, it may be enough to encourage them to make a purchase. Think creatively: if you have any Twitter posts commenting on your work, try embedding those on your site.  It will look like his:

To embed a Tweet on WordPress, find a Tweet you like, then click on the TIME STAMP.  this will take you to a page for that individual tweet.  Copy the address in the address bar, and paste that into the VISUAL EDITOR on its own line.  That’s it!  You can also embed a tweet by clicking the 3 dots at the bottom right of a tweet and selecting ’embed tweet.

Displaying follower counts on your landing page – Wisdom of the crowd. If a large number of people are following you, it may assist in encouraging others to do likewise. If you can display stat counts for followers or comments, do so! If you are able to show the number of shares a particular piece of content has on your site, that could also give you that proof.

Facebook share icon




Follow up with your readers – Ask them to refer friends to your products. Wisdom of your friends.

Privacy Policy – People may be wary about giving details (e.g. for a mailing list). Being clear about what will and won’t happen to people’s information could be the difference between them subscribing and clicking away.

At the end of the day, the best method to gain social proof is by producing quality content. If other bloggers find quality in your content, they may link back to your site – a backlink – providing you social proof: If I told you my book is the best thing ever, would you believe me? What if someone else told you about my book? Think of your favourite bloggers. Imagine if they told you my book is fantastic. People need to hear my claim from others too, as proof of its validity.

Here’s all that info in a handy infographic for you to download:  Social Proof Infographic

What can you do to convince people that the product you have is one they should be purchasing?









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