Building Social Proof: Convincing Customers You Rock (Part 2 of 2)

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Social proof can have a huge impact on your online marketing. In our earlier post, we discussed how combinations of social proof are most effective in helping with conversion.  We now turn our attention to how you can build your reputation, giving you legitimate social proof. It all starts with establishing and promoting your reputation, so here’s our recommended steps for building social proof that works.


1. Do Great Work.

The better your product (or service) and the more successful you make your customers, the more likely they are to recommend you to others. If you recognize that quality is job one, then you pave the road to building higher quality social proof.

2. Collect Feedback.

Use an “Email Feedback Folder” to save emailed compliments (and maybe another folder for complaints). If you get “old school” mail, keep a “Paper Feedback Folder” of printed thank you notes. At least once per month, review your Folders. Consider the quality of your work. Do more of the good stuff, and fix the bad.

3. Watch Social Media Channels.

Monitor your social media channels regularly. Hit the favorite button in Twitter to save complimentary tweets. If you can’t favorite something on a social media channel, simply take a screenshot and add it to your “Social Media Feedback Folder”. Like other Feedback Folders, you’ll review these notes regularly to determine patterns in quality and build more social proof opportunities.

4. Get More Testimonials.

When it comes to customer testimonials: Ask. Ask again. Ask in person, on the phone, in an email or with a personal letter. Don’t be bashful – simply ask for constructive feedback. If your product or service has a “best channel” (e.g., Amazon, Yelp, Pinterest, Facebook), direct happy customers to write their reviews there. Bonus points are available if you can get video testimonials.

5. Use a Template.

We learned this trick years ago from Sean d’Souza at Psychotactics. Write a brief survey that asks the right kinds of questions. Deliver the survey to customers soon after you deliver your product or service (e.g., when they receive your product, after they complete their onboarding, or when you’ve wrapped up a project). When you get the notes back, you can rearrange the text into great testimonials.

6. Ask Permission.

Not every review or testimonial is fair game. Sometimes you may be asked to remove something (awkward call!), so it’s best to ask for permission to use a customer’s comments up front. And if someone says NO, be understanding, say thank you, and ask another customer.

7. Display Badges and Awards.

Not all social proof comes from customers. If you get an award or a certification, display the badge. Trust symbols are a key way to display your legitimacy to customers.

8. Maximize Destinations.

You’ll be able to publish your social proof in your own content, like printed materials and your website. Many businesses will also be visible in other platforms, such as Yelp, Amazon or YouTube. Drive your happy customers to these destinations to post reviews, give stars, “like” and engage other users.

9. Show Testimonials in Context.

Social proof is more effective if it’s shown in context, not on one laundry list page. If “services” testimonials are on your Services web page, they mean more than on a generic Testimonials page.

10. Don’t Feed the Trolls.

Not all of your feedback will be shiny and great. In the event of negative testimonials, on Yelp for example, be careful how you handle them. Don’t get into arguments – you can end up on the evening news. Instead, show grace and compassion, and if a troll rears its ugly head, stop.


Building Social Proof

To optimize your online conversions, you must start by building your reputation, which gives you true social proof. Establish a rich library of likes, stars, shares, testimonials, badges and certificates, and your audience will grow. Simply stated, building social proof is a methodology that works.