Social Proof in Social Media
- Why it’s so important for businesses, both off and online -
Imagine that you’re going out for dinner, and you find yourself on a street with several restaurants that all serve very similar cuisines. At first, it seems like there’s nothing pulling you to one restaurant over any of the others.
Then you notice that one of the restaurants is much more crowded than the others. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you’re going to be drawn towards the restaurant which is fuller. The psychological phenomenon that affects people in this manner is called social proof, and it affects every aspect of human behavior.
In the example above, the social proof can be seen in the very fact that one of the restaurants was full of happy customers. The crowd indicates to the brain that the food and service must be better there, hence the big crowd. A simple definition explains social proof as the tendency to find a behavior more acceptable when the majority of people are doing it. Does the same principle apply to social media? Yes, it does!
Why is social proof important?
People have been studying the influence of social proof for years. All the studies, experiments, and tests confirm that social proof does indeed shape our opinions. Here is a little experiment performed by Solomon Asch back in the 50s to show you just how big of a deal social proof is, and how much it really impacts our everyday behavior.
As you can see, the way social proof operates is that it leads us to believe that we should follow the actions performed by the majority of people, even if they are incorrect. In the example, you can see how the gentleman faced the back of the elevator, simply because the others were doing it.
iPhone 8 release date is September 22 and people are already waiting line. I don’t think I like anything that much to wait 10 days in line. pic.twitter.com/85Ktv6MVTl
— Trevor Donovan (@TrevDon) September 12, 2017
Think about how much social proof is there in those long queues when the new iPhone is being unveiled. People could easily wait to purchase the phone the next day when it would be less crowded, but people would rather wait in lines for days at a time just to be among the first ones to buy an iPhone… Because everyone else is doing it.
This is what social proof does to people. It makes it reasonable enough to camp out for days just to buy a new product from a company. Why? Because the demand for Apple products is so high. That’s how important social proof is in today’s society.
Social proof on social media
Social proof is critical on social media. While the concept of social proof existed long before social media came around, it has become a vital component that can make or break one’s social media growth. Every social network has its own metrics by which social proof is measured:
- Twitter has followers, retweets, likes and favorites.
- YouTube has views, subscribers, and likes.
- Instagram has followers, likes, and story impressions.
These metrics are closely related to social proof, as the number of these metrics shape the social proof a user has. A Twitter profile with thousands of followers, retweets, likes and comments has positive social proof. On the other hand, a Twitter profile with a low number of followers and bad user-engagement has negative social proof. Let me show you what I mean:
Let’s say you want to search for news about something happening in Toronto. You search on Twitter search and you see posts from these two sources. Which of these two sources seems more reputable, credible, and trustworthy? Are you going to spend your precious time on:
- A source that has 5329 followers
- Or on a source that has 920,000+ followers?
The fact is that the majority of you will opt for The Toronto Star every day of the week. Why? Social proof! The news coming from a Twitter account that has nearly 1 million followers is far more reliable than from some Twitter account that has just over 5000.
How to build social proof on social media
Apart from big-time brands on social media, regular creators are having trouble building social proof for their social profiles. One thing you should always remember is that social proof is closely related to quality. This means that you can’t build social proof on social media if you don’t generate quality content. That is your primary concern. Let’s look at the ways you can build social proof on social media:
- Generate quality content: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that social proof is connected to quality content. For people to trust your content, they first have to like it. Always work on improving your content and finding new ways to keep your followers engaged. Look at how Starbucks are using clever wordplay and enticing visuals to appeal to their customers.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) July 12, 2018
- Focus on follower growth: You may generate the best content in your niche or industry, but without a decent following people won’t give your content a chance in the first place. Buying Twitter followers from reputable providers is one of the best ways to grow your Twitter following so that your quality content gets noticed instead of written off.
- Aim to go viral: Viral tweets have proven to generate instant social proof for a Twitter user. If you do succeed at going viral on social media, your whole account will detect rapid growth, thus generating positive social proof.
She’s tough. But she’s worth it pic.twitter.com/iBg7XMQdhL
— Ryan Sesselman (@RyanSesselman) June 9, 2018
- Work with influential creators: Social proof can be achieved by working with someone who already has a lot of it. If you work with influential creators in your field, you will be able to get a splash of their social proof and impress your audience.
- Improve your user-engagement: User-engagement metrics, such as likes, retweets, and favorites, also play a major role in generating social proof for your account. If your tweets receive a ton of retweets and likes, people will be more interested in following you. Here’s an example of a popular tweet with positive engagements:
My buddy always punches the shower curtain before he gets in because “you never who’s back there.” #MyWeirdFear
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) July 24, 2018
Social proof has a lot to do with how you are engaging with your audience. However, as much as you try to engage with followers, they won’t respond unless you already receive a lot of positive engagements.
It’s a bit unfair, but no one likes to be among the first ones to like or retweet a tweet; even if they like it. However, followers have no problem engaging in a tweet that already receives a lot of engagements. One way you can bypass this issue is by purchasing automatic engagements from top Twitter providers. The services will make sure that your tweets are popular, and provide the necessary boost of social proof for your content.
Always bring your A-game
The stakes are high when it comes to social media. Mediocrity will never be admitted and those who do not give their all to maintain a well-oiled social profile will never achieve great results. Without proper preparation, your social proof will dip and you will end up losing your audience. Here’s what you should do in order to keep your social profile in tip-top shape:
- Study your target audience
- Use social media marketing tools
- Regularly optimize your account
- Use all the latest features and updates of your social network
- Keep up to date with relevant happenings in your niche
Your target audience won’t engage with content that is clearly outdated and poorly optimized. Learn all about the proper use of hashtags, polls, contests, and other marketing tricks and hacks that will help you engage with your audience.
Question for the 15,000 guests staying with Airbnb in the Bay Area this weekend: What’s on your must-see list?
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) February 1, 2016
#MarvelQuestionoftheWeek: Which of these Marvel comic heroines are you looking forward to reading more of?
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) March 31, 2016
Your social proof will suffer even if you make even one mistake on social media. That’s why you should always bring your A-game and make sure you provide valuable content.
Capitalize on social proof
Now that you understand just how important social proof is for the growth of your social profile, I’m sure you’ll dedicate much of your time and effort to boosting your social proof. Here are my final tips for you:
- Work on improving the quality of your content
- Engage with your target audience in various ways
- Buy Twitter followers and automatic engagements
- Experiment with different marketing strategies
- Collaborate with top-creators in your field
- Learn the art of SEO optimization
Keep in mind that growing your social proof is a long-term process that requires persistence and dedication. It takes time to build a stable social profile that will generate stability, authority, and credibility. Once you realize what you gain in return is much more valuable than what you sacrifice, you’ll be happy to do it.