In today’s ultra-connected world, we have never been so dependent on the perceptions of others to shape our identity. Same goes for businesses.
As a business, the more you grow up, the more you need people’s opinion to keep your credibility and reputation up to date. It would be delusional to argue the opposite.
Yet, the reality shows us that most businesses don’t employ ressources to welcome proof of their reliability and credibility. From that statement, a question arises : Is putting effort on leveraging social proof a profitable strategy ?
I would be tempted to just answer YES. But it wouldn’t be constructive.
I better catch your attention on what it’s called “the attention economy”. Businesses like yours are in a competition they hardly imagine. People are outrageously invaded with tons of ads and messages made up by millions of companies making their attention more and more fragile.
All that noise has a direct impact on the perception we have of your business. What is the solution then ? Fight against millions of competitors with the same armor and sword ? If you have the patience and the tenacity go for it. But I’m not sure the result will please you.
Instead, you could work on getting people to talk about you.
When people impact businesses
Before diving into the concrete, let’s review a bit what is social proof. At first glance, it appears this concept is linked to the internet and new technologies, first and foremost because this notion is overused in our digital marketing area.
It doesn’t, at all. The notion of social proof is related to the understanding of social relationships. It’s Leon Festinger, in 1945, who has released a fabulous study of social comparison (a study that is still up to date).
In brief Leon Festinger highlights the intimate relationship existing between a person’s opinion and abilities and how they affect a person’s behavior. That’s why social proof is important for businesses because a person’s beliefs and opinions about a context and his awareness of what she is capable of will obviously lend her to change his behavior and act according to the situation she is facing.
It has also been established by the same psychologist Leon Festinger that :
“there is a primitive drive within individuals to compare themselves with others in order to evaluate their own opinions and abilities. It was originally thought that individuals do this partly in order to limit hostility and deprecation of others, given that the act of comparing oneself with others is one of the ways to strengthen bonds and ensure uniformity within a social group.”https://journals.sagepub.com/home/huma
What does this have to do with business credibility ?
By investing your time and efforts to get more reviews about your company (from your current customers, your partners, associations etc..), you will affect people’s beliefs. They will be more likely to buy your product or at least contact you.
More precisely, social proof will affect 3 inherent components of your business.
Social proof affects your authority
The more people talk about your company the more your authority will grow. We see that every day on social media platforms where we are intuitively attracted by these posts with tons of comments, likes and shares. Algorithm apart, this is not the content itself that is attracting our attention but rather, the numbers.
Same goes for movie ratings or restaurants. We will be more likely to eat at a restaurant with hundreds of reviews instead of one having just a few. The first one will instinctively be a trustworthy choice. People eat at good restaurants only so if one has hundreds of reviews there is no discussion.
Don’t get me wrong, social proof affects business authority, it is obvious. It is also obvious that If you want to be an established authority in your field, you will also have to make sure that the reviews are complimentary of you. Otherwise you will dig your own grave.
Social proof affects your reputation
Authority and reputation are two distinct notions. You could be well-known but not unanimously accepted. Yet one cannot exist without the other. Any comment, any review you get is a social proof. The more complimentary they are, the higher your reputation will rise and the more people will show interest in your business.
Conversely, if you get bad reviews, or are not capable of improving your process to get better ones, your reputation will fall. And honestly, I prefer not to be an authoritative figure rather than having a bad reputation.
A bad reputation directly and hardly impacts people’s beliefs. If the idea that your are not a good company for X reason, you will need to double up your efforts to win back people’s heart.
Just look at politics. They are « authoritative figures » living with a bad reputation. It is difficult for them to get people to adhere to their ideas and projects because beliefs about them are at an all-time low. Their efforts to convince are relentless but very often without results.
Social proof affects uncertainty
Sorry for the poncif, people are facing multiples choices. That variety feed their uncertainty. This uncertainty lends them often to not purchase at the first glance. By playing on getting social proof, from your business partners and current customers, you will help people to free themselves from the uncertainty that weighs on their shoulders and prevents them, or at least hinders them, in their possible purchase.
Remember the restaurant example. You don’t know where to eat. You look at two differents possibilities. The fact that one has better or much more reviews than the other is an element strong enough to persuade you that the first restaurant with many glowing reviews is the right choice.
In Semantic Search, we do not just look after getting better ranking or getting huge traffic. Well, I’m not ! It’s clear to me, and it should be for you too that being more visible in the web involves more than keywords ranking. By increasing your visibility, you ought to deal with increasing and establishing your credibility. And for that you need to conquiert people’s heart.