We can all agree that the power of social proof cannot be underestimated. Social proof is the concept that others influence people's decision-making. We have previously explored what social proof is and how you can and should incorporate it into your marketing plan.
You will have no doubt seen how social proof can affect a business, whether positively or negatively. Have you ever bought something because a celebrity endorsed it, or have you read a rave review? Equally, have you had second thoughts after seeing negative feedback or a one-star review online?
Social proof is a powerful tool to persuade and influence your audience and can help to increase sales and the number of people buying a product. The same can be said for services, and social proof is just as crucial for a B2B as well as a B2C audience.
- 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising
- 93% of potential buyers would read online reviews before deciding to purchase a product
- 36% of marketers said that their content delivered with the help of influencers outperforms the rest
- 90% of marketers said they would use their influencer marketing content on paid social platforms
- 87% of shoppers online believe that social media can help them make purchase decisions
- 43% of online shoppers learn about new and interesting products from social media networks
Why is Social Proof so important?
In a competitive business landscape, especially in the professional services sector, effective strategies are vital to gaining a competitive advantage, and social proof can be one way to achieve this! Prospective clients and referrers are bombarded with choices across a full range of digital platforms, and social proof can help to reassure and guide them in the right direction. As a professional services business, it's essential to have strong social proof. The more proof you can provide, the more likely potential clients will trust and pay, sometimes a premium, for your expertise.
Trust, credibility, and brand loyalty are essential to a client’s decision-making process – it is important to de-risk this as far as possible. When potential clients see other recommendations and endorsements, it builds trust and acts as a stamp of approval, making social proof an integral part of the customer journey. Similarly, and with professional services in particular, potential referrers of your business’ services want to be reassured that they are recommending the right solution, so will be keen to see ‘trust signals’.
Clients generally carry out extensive research, including looking through any reviews and recommendations, well before getting in touch with a firm they are potentially going to work with. It is, therefore important to have a strategy with consistent messaging and various tactics to demonstrate your social proof at every stage of that process. But getting a few reviews or highlighting some case studies doesn’t mean you’ve ticked that ‘social proof’ box and you will suddenly reap rewards – the audience will need more than that. Take a look at our tips for maintaining momentum with social proof…
Tips for maintaining momentum
- Don't wait for customers to say something positive – be proactive and always be on the lookout for opportunities to authentically engage with them. Remember to respond to all comments and direct messages on social media and review platforms, even the negative ones, to show that you value all feedback, and collect both positive and constructive criticism as a way of continuously improving your service.
- It's important to keep your testimonials up to date. One way to keep your testimonials fresh is to regularly send out a client questionnaire survey, and depending on the number of new clients, consider doing this every quarter or twice a year. Mix things up by using testimonials not just from clients but also from work referrers, suppliers and even members of your own team.
- Content to build your social proof should include a mix of testimonials, case studies, reviews, and credible ‘influencers’. This will help prevent your social proof from becoming stale or boring and reiterate your credibility from various sources. Also, ensure that your social proof is trustworthy, including real names, photos, and quotes for testimonials showing the source and date or linking to an influencer's profile.
- Repurpose your social proof by sharing your testimonials, case studies, reviews, and award wins. You can also repurpose social media comments as testimonials. Have a look at our previous blog about repurposing content for more ideas and tips. However, avoid repetition by sharing them in the same style. Instead, try to be creative and transform your content into different forms. For instance, you can convert a testimonial into a video, showcase the number of reviews in a graphic, or reshare comments your clients have tagged you in.
- Collaborating with experts is another effective way to build social proof. Inviting an industry expert for a social media ‘takeover’ or delivering joint events gives your audience the opportunity to learn from thought leaders, in turn associating that expertise with your brand.
- Sharing milestones can be another great way to create social proof for your audience. This can include celebrating anniversaries or reaching a certain number of clients or followers on social media to showcase your achievements.
- To maintain and build on the impact of social proof, it is crucial to set clear goals and metrics using a range of different tools, such as social media engagement, website traffic, heat mapping, content downloads, event sign-ups, and video views/shares. This will enable you to focus more on what does work and less on what doesn’t.
What to avoid
One of the main strategies for success with social proof is to engage with your audience. However, avoid using fake social proof to make your business appear popular. Whilst it is possible to create or buy fake testimonials, reviews, or followers to boost their social media statistics, this can result in significant harm to your business’s credibility and authenticity, so don’t get sucked into doing it!
Social proof can also lose its impact if, over time, it becomes outdated or inconsistent with your brand and messaging. It is important to carefully curate your brand’s social proof as a process of ongoing improvement and central to your marketing efforts.
Are you looking to reap the benefits of social proof in your business?
Managed well, social proof can be highly effective in establishing credibility among existing and prospective clients as well as referrers, giving you a competitive edge in your industry. There are various interconnected aspects to social proof - understanding how to effectively deploy them can significantly impact the ability to persuade potential clients and referrers in the decision-making and buying process.
If your current social proof strategy is not having the right impact, or if this is the first time you have really considered it, then book your free consultation with us to explore this opportunity further. We can work with you to boost your social proof, develop effective trust signals and build your brand.
Marketing for Professional Services
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