Social proof is a common catch phrase these days, but what does it mean?
It is being suggested by many “experts” that social proof is something new, something that business people didn’t have to think about before.
Perhaps I just think of social proof more globally than some other internet consultants, but I think that idea is crazy. Social proof is not a new local business marketing concept at all, but how it works today is quite different from the past when it was neighbors talking over the fence or over a beer.
Businesses have always relied on social proof in one form or another. It is just that the form changes and now we have a convenient label for it.
Word of mouth advertising has long been the standard for social proof, and is most certainly not a contemporary construct. Businesses large and small have long known that if they can get their happy customers to tell other people about them and recommend them that it is the least expensive and most successful advertising campaign they have.
Social proof has always been about customers indicating their support for your business. That has not changed.
What has changed is HOW they demonstrate their support.
Today your customers are online every day. They get most of their information from the internet, more than the television or radio, more than print publications. And this trend continues to accelerate as we are seeing the millennials and younger folks ever more tied to their electronic devices.
Whether shopping locally or buying something across the globe, more and more people are relying on the internet to gather information before making a purchase.
Social proof has always been part of that research process, it is just easier to get these days. You no longer have to talk to lots of different people to learn their opinions and experiences–it is all there online.
What is social proof in current terms then? It is how your business is supported online. This can be done by customers posting a review on Yelp, Angie’s List, or any number of other review sites. It can be comments left on your blog or your Facebook or G+ page. It can even be that someone links to your business website on their blog or Facebook page, or that someone shares a post that you have written.
How do you get more social proof for you business?
Excuse me for stating the obvious, but you have to get social. Nope, you don’t have to do it all. Unless you have a lot more time on your hands then most business owners I know, you can’t anyway.
Learn a little bit about the various types of social media and pick one, give it a go and see if you like it. I’m a firm believer that if you enjoy it, you will have better results. If you find you aren’t enjoying it, you can try a different avenue.
If you are a visual person or you have a visual type business, then Pinterest might be a good choice for you. If you naturally talk in sound bites, you might try Twitter. If you are in a B2B field, or are looking for professional connections, check out LinkedIn. Facebook is gaining ground on the major search engines and gives businesses some more flexibility in their posts and pages. These are just a few of the many options that are available to your local business.
There is no one best social media, one that works for every single business in every single market. Find where your customers are online and start there. Then dive into that online “pudding” and get some social proof.