Social proof: The key to success
The only way to succeed with Web 2.0 marketing is by focusing all your efforts to just one clear and precise goal. And this is where most social marketers “get it wrong”.
The goal of social marketing is not to generate sales directly from Squidoo, Facebook or YouTube; the goal is to generate something far more valuable for your business: social proof.
Ironically, “social proof” has become a buzz-word in the web marketing arena. It has been twisted around so much that most people understand it as a synonym of “testimonials”. But it is much more than that. Testimonials are just one of the many ways to generate social proof… and there are many others. Let’s dig a little deeper.
So what exactly is social proof?
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and take cues from the actions of others in the crowd to make a decision.
Sometimes social proof becomes such a powerful force that it can stimulate or alter the group behavior totally out of character. It can make individual members of the crowd act completely different than they would normally do when operating alone and under their own judgment.
Can you imagine being able to influence the perception of your entire niche to shine a positive light over you, your products or your business? It can be done, and even when we rarely notice it anymore, we see social proof in action every single day. In fact, due to the social nature of web 2.0, it has quickly become the best place in the world for this type of marketing to bloom and prosper.
And how exactly is “social proof” used in Web 2.0?
It is mostly being done by building “buzz” around whatever you’re trying to promote. For clarity’s sake, I’ll define buzz as the seemingly random, but accelerated growth in popularity of a particular topic or theme in a niche’s collective conversation.
Buzz hits our psyche at the very core. It plays with one of our most basic instincts: The desire to belong (to a pack, a group or a larger social unit. So when suddenly other people in our niche all start talking about the same thing, we feel a natural desire to belong and join the conversation. It’s all pure and unadulterated human nature.
Think about it. What’s the first thing you do when deciding which movie to watch? Or what about when you are wanting buy a digital camera? My guess is that you look at what others are saying about it (including what the experts in your niche are currently recommending).
And finally, when you’ve done enough research and know what “the crowd” is doing… how often do you go against their recommendations? Let me guess…. rarely.
So how is buzz built?
There are literally hundreds of different ways in which you can build buzz for your business. And creativity plays a big role in determining the level of success that any given buzz marketing campaign will have. So let me wrap it up with 3 quick examples:
Implied celebrity endorsement:
This is different from when Michael Jordan pushes Nike in a TV ad. It has to be done carefully and with finesse. For example… what if during a web 2.0 conversation (maybe in a blog post) I casually mention that ThirdSphere is the web hosting service that master affiliate Andrew Fox uses to run all his websites?
Andrew has said nothing about it… but in the mind of a regular reader who is shopping for hosting, that statement may become an influencing factor: “after all, if it’s good enough for Andrew then it’s certainly good for me as well”.
Building buzz by talking about buzz:
Frank Kern’s e-mails can be a perfect example of this. In one of his latest marketing campaigns, Frank wrote in an e-mail to his list: “In the past 20 days, 46,024 new people have joined this waiting list to buy the Mass Control program… without a launch and without affiliates”.
In reality, the 46 thousand people who joined the list wanted to know more about mass control. And certainly not ALL of them were in line to buy the product. But by sharing those numbers, Frank was able to establish social proof and get people buzzing in forums and blogs weeks in advance… and growing his mailing lists even larger.
Testimonials and case studies:
Without a doubt, one of the easiest ways to prove something to a prospect is by sharing with him specific cases when people who are VERY similar to him have already experienced the same results that he is after.
The guys at StomperNet have given us a PERFECT example for this. Just click here to watch their latest video and you’ll see the raw power of testimonials and case studies in action.
Note.- I strongly recommend that you opt-in to their list and take the time to watch all the videos they have released for this launch (they are re-opening on May 22nd for a limited time). Their videos have built a huge amount of buzz for their business… Study them carefully and try to apply those techniques to build buzz for your own products.