Social Proof is the hot buzzword in online marketing. Essentially what it is all about is technological peer pressure. It is a fact that people follow what other people are doing. We gravitate towards things that others are interested in or doing. Wise online marketing strategists are pairing social proof with SEO techniques in order to enhance conversion on their sites.
SEO is the compilation of the strategies you employ to direct traffic to your website. Having an online presence is simply not enough. You need to be using a variety of methods to constantly drive people to your website, such as blogging, pay per click campaigns, social media and link building. Once you have those new visitors at your site, you need to find a way to take them from discovery to action.
That’s where social proof comes in. Having a constant flow of new traffic means that you have new potential customers that you can influence. However, without some form of social proof, your conversion rate will be very low. You will have only web site content to use to make an impression. With social proof, you will actually be using sophisticated peer pressure to help get the desired results.
Savvy businesses know how consumers work. They realize that peer pressure aka social proof is not just for teenagers and is not always bad. We want to emulate others. That’s why you will find more and more social proof in a variety of places online.
Social proof that you encounter online is often in the form of ratings. When you search for a restaurant, hotel, apartment and most service providers, you will typically find ratings that have been provided by actual customers on websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon, ZAGAT and ApartmentRatings. Google Plus is yet another ratings/sharing method that allows you to find out how many people recommend a site, service or product. Social proof of this type provides you with the knowledge that many others have used and enjoyed the same thing you are considering and you are therefore more likely to make that purchase.
Widgets like FacePile are another very effective form of social proof for your website. If you are logged into Facebook, and you visit a page with FacePile, you will see the faces of the friends you know and some people you don’t who like the page you are visiting. This increases the chance that you will like it too.
Other types of social proof are statistics. Companies like Box.net quote the percentage of Fortune 500 companies that use their services. The reader of such social proof wants to be a Fortune 500 company and therefore takes an action based on wanting to emulate what successful businesses do.
GetListed.org uses a similar strategy but quotes how many businesses of the same type as yours in your area do business with them. That way you see that your peers and competitors are using the company, so you should too.
When you state how many people use you your product, you are creating social proof. However, if you state how many businesses of the same type in a given town use your product, you are creating much stronger social proof. Even better is getting people to tweet or post about using your product or service. By doing so, you are making a much bigger impact on that person’s circle of influence than by any of the other forms of social proof. Social networks are the most powerful form of social proof.
Without the flow from SEO, your social proof strategies will be for nothing. Without social proof, your conversions from SEO will be low. Together you have a strategy that delivers results.
When you successfully direct new traffic to your website on a continual basis using SEO and then win them over through social proof, you have the perfect opportunity for action. Your lead is now ready to take the desired action. Be sure that you clearly ask for what you want. They should be ready to commit to whatever action you want them to take: share something, fill out a form, watch a video or pick up the phone.
Social activity is used to prove the legitimacy of your site to those who have found it thanks to your strategic SEO efforts. This delivers better results than you could ever imagine. Enjoy better brand power and increased conversion rates with the magic of SEO and social proof.
About the Author
Gerad Hoyt is an online marketing director with Vast Bridges. His current project, Satellite Informant, is a High Speed Internet Provider for rural areas that utilizes satellite signals to deliver broadband internet service.