Social proof is a concept in online marketing that individuals use to judge the reliability of a person or business online, and that search engines also use to improve page rank for any given website. It's about building trust among customers and potential customers, as well as proving that you're a reliable and honest business entity.
Social Proof Starts with Being Social
With the advent of social media like Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others, you can't escape the importance of being social when it comes to online marketing. Friends of friends actually do care about what their friends and family are doing, saying and buying. The actions of the influencers in your life actually help determine the actions you might make.
Friends of a Feather…
Studies show that your closest friends influence not only your happiness but also your net worth. The saying that “birds of a feather, flock together” isn't really far off. This means that with the right connections on social media, if you can get the word out about your products and/or services to one of your most ideal clients, and they share, it will likely end up in the view of more of your ideal clients.
Word-of-Mouth Is Imperative
What's more is that most people trust word-of-mouth recommendations for products and services more than they trust any other type of marketing or advertising. If your best friend says she likes something, you can usually be sure you'll feel the same way. If someone you trust says they found value in something, you feel confident that you will too.
Social Proof Takes Time and Effort
Developing and increasing your social proof happens through interaction on social media, blogging, and participating in your community. It doesn't matter if your community is online or offline, being an active participant will go far in creating the social proof that you need to be seen as a trustworthy source of information. The more people who start quoting you, the more people who friend you, follow you, and retweet your information, the more social proof you collect.
Use the Tools of the Trade
Tools like Google Authorship allow you to connect your articles and blog posts to your image in search. Plus creating branded social media URLs, along with a consistent image and profile will go far in ensuring that people know who you are. Once a person reads, enjoys, likes, shares and comments on something that you have written, they'll be more likely to see search results that your work appears in.
Before online marketing we already knew that customers were more likely to tell people if they had a bad experience or disliked a service than if it was good. The tide has shifted somewhat in how people behave now that we have online communication and social media. Today, a person who likes something is likely to share with more than 1000 people over time due to the connections of others. Earning social proof is not something you can ignore if you want to market online successfully.