One of the hard things about starting a company is that you're new to the world and no one knows or trusts you yet. Your target customers haven't had enough engagement with your product and business to think about you as a solution to their problems, and they don't have proof that you'll deliver what you say you'll deliver.
An excellent way to fast track the development of trust between you and your customers is to take actions that create social proof.
What is social proof?
"Social proof, sometimes called herd instinct, dictates that individuals feel they are behaving correctly when they act the same as other people. In other words, the more people who follow a certain idea, the better (truer) we deem the idea to be. And the more people who display a certain behaviour the more appropriate this behaviour is judged to be by others." - Rolf Dobelli, The Art of Thinking Clearly.
As with most human behaviour, the origins of this mechanism dates back to tens of thousands of years ago, when doing what others did was a valuable survival mechanism in many situations. If you were part of a tribe out hunting, seeing your friends turn and start run would have been a pretty good indication that you should also turn and run. If you stood still, your chances of being eaten by a lion and the discontinuation of your genetic line would have been higher.
So how can you apply this principle to your business?
By getting people to follow you, like you, comment on your posts, tag friends, and show images of people like your target market using your product. By having case studies and testimonials on your website. And by using other credible people, companies, publishers to provide social proof.
Awareness marketing campaigns can help to create social proof if you run them well.
You will find that once you have a good base of followers, it will become easier to get more. You may have also noticed, that once one or two people comment on a post on social media, more people will start to comment. This is the work of social proof.
Some tips to help you start generating social proof on a budget:
- Put customer testimonials and case studies on your website, ideally with the name and an image of the person who said it. People like to see that other people like them have used and enjoyed the product.
- Share images of other people enjoying your product. The more of this you can do the better.
- When you post or share something on social media, make it easy for people to comment so you get the first one or two early adopters, which will set the standard for more people to engage.
- Run 'tag a friend' posts or competitions.
- Consider having ambassadors, people whose job it is to tell other people how great you are.
- Guest blog or share articles in credible publications. An existing company or publication likely already has a loyal following, by associating yourself with them, it provides social proof to their followers.
- Make referrals very easy for your customers. Referrals are the best kind of social proof and a good testament to the quality of your product
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