Social Proof – how are other people influencing your customers?

This month at Busy Mums business networking we’ve been talking about social proof.

When considering a purchase, three questions that often come to mind are:

  • Is this the right product? Does it solve the problem or need that I have?
  • Is this right for me? Is this made with me in mind, does it relate to me and address my specific needs?
  • Does it work? Is it any good? Does it deliver what it promises?

In your business there’s a lot you can communicate to address these questions directly. As customers, however, we give much more attention and credibility when these questions are answered by other people. People we can relate to, who we consider to be ‘like us’ enough to influence our decision. This comes from Robert Cialdini’s principle of Social Proof – that people will do things that they see other people are doing.

Think of when you bought your mobile phone. Chances are you saw someone with that phone, heard someone talking about it or asked someone’s opinion.

Similarly, providing social proof in the form of comments, recommendations and testimonials from other people can help your customers make their buying decisions.

Where can these come from?

  • The most obvious first: asking for direct testimonials following from the work you’ve done or the product you’ve delivered.
  • Using comments from customers – from conversations in person, over the phone or by email. By asking “Can I quote you on that?” you can turn them into testimonials.
  • Facebook – when people say nice things about you on Facebook, capture it as a screenshot. It’s a great ‘natural’ way of showing testimonials. You can see some examples here.
  • Twitter – you can capture positive comments, feedbacks, thank you notes and #ff recommendations on Twitter by adding them to your ‘favorites‘ stream, creating a whole page of testimonials. There are also widgets you can use to import this stream into your blog or website (look over to the right hand side of this page for example).
  • Linked In has a Recommendations section – you can use it to request recommendations from any of your contacts – from customer testimonials to character references.
  • Celebrities, statistics and inspiring quotes – may not be a direct testimonial for you, but can endorse the method or solution that you’re offering. Think of diet adverts “Celebrity X lost so many lbs” and fashion features in magazines “as worn by…”

Where to use them?

  • All the obvious places – your website, your promotional materials and your sales pages.
  • In your follow up emails to people who have expressed an interest but not yet bought. “Jane, do you feel… that’s exactly how Carol felt and this is what she said…”
  • In your email signature as a PS.

Where else? How do you use your testimonials? Love to hear from you in the comments box below.

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