The term, social proof, originates from a 1984 book by Robert Cialdini titled, Influence. It is also sometimes called informational social influence.
It is a behaviour that thinks other people have more knowledge about a situation.
Take a circumstance when someone is thinking about buying products or services. In today’s online society, it is now almost a natural reflex for potential customers to check for ratings and reviews.
There are many types apart from customer reviews. These can help you improve the performance of your blog or to help you sell more books.
Social networks are the most obvious form. The more followers you have, the more people think that you are influential. It is the key to a social media presence.
If a celebrity endorses a product on social media, sales generally increase. Celebrity social proof is one of the most common forms of influencer marketing.
Advertisers on social media often use customer testimonials in combination with a call to action. Both help to increase brand awareness and conversion rates.
Authors and bloggers can take a hint from these actions. They will help you improve your social media performance.
On social media, it works better when you can increase your followers and incorporate external authority.
For authors, book reviews are obviously the best form of external proof.
If you are a blogger, it is not possible to have product reviews about your site. But you can add a review system to each blog post.
Have you noticed that when you do a Google search, some results have a five gold star rating system? It is a powerful means of displaying the wisdom of the crowd.
In any business, you should be thinking about finding ways to improve by one per cent per day. Developing your online authority is a perfect way for you to achieve this aim.
There are many ways you can start to add different types of proof. Here are ten simple ideas to help you on your way.
1. Facebook likes
The only true barometer and social signal of influence for a Facebook page is the number of likes. The more likes you have, the more influential you become.
A lot of likes then attracts more likes. But you know that it can take forever to increase your total organically.
The only way to get more likes is to pay. But it is not that expensive to use Facebook advertising to start attracting a good number. On average, it costs about $0.15 per like. If you allocate a small budget per month, it will help you on your way.
If you have a blog or website, you should always have social share buttons for all your social media channels. Make sure there is also an option to like your Facebook page.
2. Twitter followers
It is a simple equation on Twitter. The more followers you can get, the more influence you have.
There are a lot of schemes to get Twitter followers. But the best way is to be patient and build your following on a daily basis.
When you tweet, don’t be tempted into only adding self-promotion messages. Mix it up and be more informative. Share information from industry experts and thought leaders.
It will prove that you are well-read and informed. Then you should become a Twitter expert worth following.
3. Ask for book reviews
Book reviews are the golden acceptance of proof for books. Every author knows that getting book reviews is really tough work. Very few readers take the time to do it.
But you can help yourself by giving them a nudge. Ask for a review. You have seen a request to review on so many sites you visit or in emails you receive.
At the end of your book, add a few lines just after THE END. You can plead, beg or be funny. You could try something like this.
Thank you so much for reading all 100,000 words of my book. But I’d love to read 15 words from you in your review. Good or bad is okay–I can handle it.
Even if only a few react, asking readers for a review is the best way to get results.
4. Add you own editorial Amazon book reviews
Do you know that you can add your reviews to your book page on Amazon?
You can, and it is very easy to do. One huge benefit of adding your reviews in this way is that Amazon can not delete them.
Here is how you add your book reviews.
Go to your book on Author central and click the Editorial Reviews tab. For your ebook version, you have one review field. For your paperback, you have two fields. But you can add as many reviews as you like within each field.
You can also add snippets of your reviews within your book description.
In the image below, you can see that I have added three reviews in one field and three snippets in the book description.
Wait 24 hours, and you will see the result on your book sales page on Amazon.
You will see your editorial reviews just after your book description, or other books in a series. It is well before the list of starred reviews from readers that appears lower down on the page.
Your snippet reviews will now be published within your book description.
You can read our full article on how to use your Amazon Author page to add reviews and much more to your book sales pages.
5. Let your blog readers rate you
There are many plugins and widgets you can use to add a rating system to your blog.
It helps you build expert social confirmation when you let your readers rate your articles.
You can use Multi Rating, which is a free WordPress plugin. It is quick and easy to set up. But there are many other choices and options you can use.
Following every article on your site, you can set an option to rate how helpful the article was. You can use other words in your tag line.
Over time, these votes are averaged and will show as a star rating at the top of each article page.
As you can see, it shows the number of reviews and the average rating.
If you get lucky, search engines like Google can add your star ratings to your search listings. It doesn’t happen for every article. But in my experience, around 50% of my indexed pages have a star ranking.
Rating stars can be a search engine optimization (SEO) ranking factor.
When you can get good ratings showing like this in Google search, it tells people that an article is worth reading.
The more votes you have and the higher the average rating, the more credibility you create. It says that a lot of people think you are worth reading.
Update: Unfortunately, Google has decided to end adding automatic rating stars to many blog articles. However, it is still possible if you use your schema markup to indicate a product such as a book. However, rating stars on your site alone are still a great way to tell your readers that your blog posts are of high value.
6. Case studies and quoting experts
You have probably read a line like this many times on websites and landing pages.
Case studies prove that a call to action works.
Very often, there is no link to the study or who wrote it.
When you quote statistics or data in an article or blog post, you add validity to your point of view.
Publisher revenue for books and ebooks drops by 3.2% over five years.
But it is much better to prove that you researched your data thoroughly and you can support your claim with evidence.
A study in the 2018 StatShot Annual Report by the Association of American Publishers indicates that there was a mild decline of 3.2% in overall publisher revenues over five years. Source – Publishing Perspectives.
You can add a link on part of the text, or as a source at the end. Your readers may not click the link. But by noticing you have a citation link, it acts as verifiable proof.
Another benefit is that Google will find the link. If it is highly relevant to your article and a trustworthy source, it will be a good ranking signal.
7. Testimonials from customers
Most blogging themes have a testimonial widget. You see them on a lot of sites.
Of course, they are mostly used to showcase happy customers.
I can use the example above on Revive Social because it features me as a happy client.
However, you can use the same feature to show a few happy book buyers or blog readers. As was the case for me, it only took someone to ask me.
It is not very difficult at all to find three people who agree to be quoted on your site. Ask your friends or contacts on social media.
8. Using trust icons
Many sites have a small banner at the bottom of their website with logos of companies that trust their product or service.
But trust icons can come in many forms. A good example is our sister site, Whizbuzz Books.
The book promotion services Whizbuzz offers have been vetted and approved. The Alliance of Independent Authors verified the site’s services. So it is entitled to carry the ALLI logo.
For authors, if you become a member of ALLi, you can also use a similar trust logo.
If you are a blogger, there are a lot of blog award sites you can find that offer trust badges.
9. An honest and open about page
Prove that you are real, human and not hiding behind anonymity is a significant trust factor.
An about page with a real (and recent) profile image and an informal text written in the first person gives readers confidence.
You are sending a social signal that you are open and honest. Writing mystery is fine in a book. But on your blog or website, it can create suspicion.
Honesty is always the best policy.
10. People love numbers
Perhaps it is because numbers are quick to grasp and finite that they register instantly with a reader.
Numbers, especially when they relate to people, are a great way to offer proof of success.
To give you an example, I could say this.
A lot more people visited my blog today than a year ago.
Or I could say this.
3,376 people visited our site yesterday. On the same day one year ago, 2,339 visited. This is an increase of 44.34%.
Referral traffic is almost the same, with only a 2.56% increase, but direct traffic is up by over 40%.
The biggest jump has been in new users which is up 52.04%, or around 1,000 new people who visit our site each day.
It’s sometimes a good idea to support your numbers with a graph or table. It helps you amplify your statistical proof.
For the curious, the section other in the table above from Google analytics relates to referrals from uncategorised referral sites like Medium or Goodreads.
In the end, any form of social proof is about persuading people that an idea, concept, service or product has been of value to other people.
When someone sees a social media post with 1,000 shares, they are inclined to believe it is more credible than a post with 10 shares.
It is a psychological reaction that is very common. It is used by companies, celebrities, politicians and even governments and state actors.
When it comes to influencing people, there can be good and bad people at work. We now know how our private data has been used to political and electoral effect.
But you don’t need to go to these complex and expensive lengths to become an influencer in your field.
All you need to do is think about the 10 ideas I have raised in this article. Then decide if some can work for you.
It’s all about being credible. But even more so, about being open and honest.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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