Social interaction is a dominant force that drives behavior. Many people look to others to help them make daily choices like who to vote for, what hygiene products to use, which websites to visit, what to wear etc. Trends, memes, fads and movements all shift based on popular opinion.
Using other peoples’ preferences to determine which course of action to take is known as social proof. This phenomenon has led to the adoption of widespread cultural movements as well as short-lived one hit wonders such as bagel head or breading cats.
Recorded history contains many other tales of popularity driven by social proof rather than actual proof. This includes everything from harmless, regional fashion trends like backwards overalls to catastrophic economic bubbles involving the price of goods. Let’s not forget alchemy, manifest destiny, phrenology, low carb diets and of course, 4 loko.
There’s also been plenty of equally amazing trends that were spread due to popular opinion. The widespread acceptance of germ theory, drive in movie theatres, the Macarena, planking, women’s suffrage and the end of Apartheid.
Marketing and Social Proof
The bottom line is that you want to create a buzz about your site and generate interest. Since before the internet was ubiquitous saavy marketers have taken advantage of social proof. If you can demonstrate enough people are interested in your website, it’s a good bet that others will come to see what all the fuss is about.
In relation to web development and online business, social proof is one of the cornerstones of successful marketing. Individuals and organizations alike can use the enthusiasm of a group to help promote their products. A business can use this kind of publicity to cultivate their brand image and reputation.
Social proof is a powerful asset when it comes to marketing your WordPress website. With the prevalence of the web, things can go viral overnight. This gives anyone the opportunity to build social proof for a product, idea or service very quickly.
Potential visitors to your site may be more heavily influenced if they are following the actions of someone they respect. How often have you gone to eat somewhere because it was recommended by someone you know or a celebrity you like? While this kind of word of mouth is best it’s not necessary. If you can prove to a prospect that there genuine interest, curiosity will be enough to draw visitors to your site.
For example, if a company has lots of followers on social media that regularly discuss their products, it’s a good indication of social proof. The amount of exposure you’d get from this is exponentially greater than just two people chatting about a product.
This is why displaying and promoting social proof is a key element of success for websites. The more public endorsements you get from people, the better your chances of attracting more attention. As a webmaster or marketing strategist, you have much more control over the discussion about your company than you might think.
If you can leverage social proof properly you will be able to realize an increase in leads, clients, sales and opportunities. This article will focus on different methods you can employ to build social proof on your website and WordPress plugins that can help.
Growing Social Proof With WordPress
There are many different way to build credibility right on your WordPress site. Most of these are cost effective. WordPress comes bundled with tools to help you do this. The comments section on your blog is the most obvious way to bump up your social clout.
Additionally, there are plenty of other methods to ramp up social proof with plugins, code or content. For instance you can setup a discussion forum to build a community. You can use testimonials to show how satisfied other people with your products or services. Another good way to get people on board with your company is to provide case studies. This shows real world examples of what you can offer. Below we will offer some tips to help you build your rep and show people what you are all about.
Another easy way to harness social proof is to display testimonials on your website. This gives people an unbiased view about you. Giving visitors a glimpse of another person’s thoughts on your service or product is much more convincing than you doing it yourself. This is a great way to build trust in your capabilities.
Depending on your niche, you can showcase testimonials anywhere on your website. If you provide a service, it’s good to make sure they are noticeable. You can put them in your sidebar or footer and even create a page dedicated to testimonials.
It’s important to post testimonials that will be effective. The more you can get potential customers or clients to relate the better. The idea is to add a human element to your showcase. Anonymous quotes are much less effective than testimonials that include a person’s contact info. Consider posting pictures links to their website, address, full name etc. Testimonials from public figures can hold even more weight. Another way to show people you are legit is a brand showcase. Display logos of any well-known brands on your website. This shows you are trusted by high level professionals.
There are many testimonial plugins you can choose from for WordPress. Excited! Testimonials is versatile, easy to use and powerful. This is a very affordable plugin that gives you a simple solution to creating, editing and collecting testimonials. You can quickly post interesting testimonials in a very short amount of time.
Features include rating systems, front end submission forms and lots of styling options. You can take things further with custom CSS if you need to. This plugin is nothing if not flexible, it’s also great for product and/or service reviews as well.Get Excited! Live Demo
Even though many marketers have dubbed the death of email years ago, it’s not going away. Building an email list is still an important part of increasing your online presence. Growing an email list of a highly targeted audience allows you to do a few things. You can develop a relationship with your audience, sell products and decrease your independence on search engines.
The biggest obstacle with building an email list is getting people to subscribe. The first line of offense should be an attractive form and some incentive. This is a great way to get people to sign up. You can tip things in your favor even more by using social proof. If you have thousands of other subscribers, don’t make it a secret. By showing off your numbers, you will peak some interest.
Ninja Kick: Subscription WordPress Plugin
Ninja Contact forms helps you build slick looking contact forms to build your email list. This list building plugin has a push/sliding animation effect that works great to convert visitors into subscribers. Ninja Contact Forms isn’t designed to force people to join. Instead it designed to attract people in a non-obtrusive way. It’s easy to use and has lots of essential contact form features including:
- Integration with third party mailing services like MailChimp
- Highly adjustable layouts and styles
- Filters for display
- Sleek animation fx
Building Offsite Social Proof
Even though WordPress gives you access to all the tools you need to build social proof, it’s important market yourself offsite as well. This means that you want to shape the perception of your brand on places other than your domain. The main two ways of doing this are through third party reviews and social media engagement.
For many niches, reviews are an essential part of success. Reviews are one of the original methods of building social proof. A steady stream of solid reviews can be like money in the bank. The Amazon marketplace is a living testament to this idea.
People are more likely to buy products from sellers that already have a large number of positive reviews. Establishing yourself on popular review sites can give you an edge and lead to more business. This includes sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare and so on. Even a bad review can be helpful. If there is a problem and you resolve the issue quickly it will highlight your excellent customer service.
Use Social Media
Social media is central to the largest paradigm shift when it comes to modern marketing. Social media sites like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook are perhaps the biggest players when it comes to people having candid discussions about products. What is said about a product or company isn’t moderated. Because of this many consumers will put higher stock in what people say.
If you are sure of your brand and want to leverage social media, you can do this easily by making sure you are mentioned in a positive light. This can funnel the traffic you get from social media right back to your WordPress site. You can integrate social media directly into the comments section.
Many sites nowadays have even opted out of the built in WordPress comment section. Comments are only used with social media accounts like Facebook. This is a good strategy if you already have a large following, otherwise it’s good to keep comments on your blog.
Another great way to build offsite social proof is to create your own social hub. There are many social aggregators that can help you accomplish this. You can embed streams from all of your social accounts into a single place. You embed this hub directly on your site anywhere you wish. Create an entire page for your social hub or add it to a widget or page section. Below is are some plugins to help you create killer social hubs on your WordPress site.
Flow-Flow Social Streams for WordPress
Flow-Flow gives you the power to create a social hub anywhere on your WordPress site. Build custom cards to put in your streams to display content from the largest social media sites on the web. Currently there are 15+ social networks you can integrate into your site with Flow-Flow. This includes Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
You can create an unlimited amount of streams with as many networks as you want. For instance you could create a social feed to display posts from 5 separate Twitter accounts, 2 Facebook accounts and an Instagram account. You are only limited by the amount of bandwidth your server can handle. This plugin is lightweight, fast and gives you lots of style options.Get Flow-Flow Live Preview
Social proof is a powerful weapon. It can be used to take a brand from the backwoods to the big time in a short period of time. Online we can get even more mileage out of good feedback to build social proof. When someone has something nice to say about you or your brand, it boosts your credibility.
If you use WordPress, you have a lot of tools in your kit to help you build your reputation. There are many methods and plugins at your disposal to make sure your prospects know what you stand for. Using social media sites is probably one of the most powerful ways to do this.
One of my sites got a huge boost in publicity when a popular journalist publicly backed the site on social media. Do you have any interesting tips on building social proof? If so, please share in the comments section, we’d love to hear from you.