What is Social Proof? Is it Important?

Before social media networking, social proof came in the form of reviews, testimonials, recommendations, referrals, word-of-mouth, and so on.

Now, it’s all about social proof.

But what exactly is this new strategy?

According to TechCrunch, “Put simply, it’s the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.  It’s also known as "informational social influence.”

Wikipedia describes social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”

Pro-copywriter and marketer Colin Martin also weighs in on this subject. In a webinar I attended, he said, “The influence of your friends, family, and co-workers has greater effect on your buying decisions than the best advertising [. . .] People give more credence to ideas that are started by multiple sources.”

Why is It Important?

For one thing, social proof is recognition (acknowledgment) that other people and businesses value you, your business, and/or your services. It shows you have influence.

As an example of this phenomenon, marketing research shows that book reviews sell more books.

People perceive you and your brand as having authority based on what others are saying about you. This perception motivates consumer behavior. In other words, if Joe sees that Tom, Jessica, Amanda, and lots of others bought your program or software or product, he’ll be motivated to buy it himself.

It’s very similar to how search ranking works. The more people who visit your site and share your content, the more valuable the search engines will perceive you to be.

So, these numbers matter significantly. The higher your numbers the better your search engine ranking, traffic, authority, and conversion

It’s important to note that having social proof from influential people carries an even heavier weight.

In the realm of social media networking, this proof is more quantifiable than before. Now, we’re talking about hundreds and thousands weighing in on your influence through social networks.

Social Proof and Numbers

How many Twitter followers do you have? How many Tweets, Favorites, and Retweets do you average? Are you on any ‘social proof’ lists?

What about Google+ and Facebook? What about LinkedIn? What about YouTube?

How many blog post and social networks shares do you get? What about comments.

How many email subscribers do you have?

Again, these numbers matter. The higher the numbers the more influence you will be perceived as having.

How to Get Social Proof

There are a number of ways to garner the proof you need. Here are eight simple ways to get started:

  • Guest blogging on influential sites
  • Getting comments on your social media posts and your blog posts
  • Provide case studies on your website and social media
  • Provide case studies on how you helped clients move forward
  • Be active on social media and promote engagement (activity)
  • Show you're numbers (number of followers, number of shares, etc.)
  • Show the good stuff (show any 'good' comments you get on your social media channels, show any 'good' lists your included in)
  • Show off your LinkedIn recommendations
  • Show actual testimonials and recommendations

Keep in mind that video testimonials are more powerful than any other kind of testimonial from clients. The reason is the visitor to your site can actually see a person. She’ll know it’s not a fake. This absolutely matters.

You can also create banners for your website’s home page showing your numbers. Add it to your header or your sidebar.

Colin Martin recommends:

  • Use content share buttons that display the number of shares
  • Use the WordPress Rotating Testimonial Widget for your website sidebar
  • Use the WordPress Facebook Comments Plugin
  • Get some YouTube testimonials up

There are other tools and strategies to use to get your social proof out there, but these should get you going in the right direction.

Here are a Couple of Examples of Social Proof

This shows my Top Skill on LinkedIn:

Here are a few Lists I was recently added to on Twitter:

Here's a Twitter Mention:

Here are a few Twitter Favorites of one of my blog posts:

Here I'm on the 1st SERP:

This is ALL social proof.

Do you have other strategies you use to get and display social proof?


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Karen, one of the nicest gifts we can give a fellow professional is an endorsement on LinkedIn--without waiting to be asked! Loved this blog!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Multi Award-Winning Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers including the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter ( and the new paperback release of the second edition of The Frugal Editor (

Karen Cioffi said...

Absolutely, Carolyn. There are so many ways easy ways you can help a fellow writer, author, or marketer build their social proof. Even a brief book review on Amazon will further that author's social proof.

And, as you mentioned at Writers on the Move, adding a book to your wish list gives that author and book a boost.

Glad you liked the post!