I'm sorry to tell you this, but most people do not trust you.
It has nothing to do with you as a person, or your business, values or past. The fact is, we live in a world where we wake up every single day, bombarded with messages, ideas, "opportunities," and people trying to capture our attention.
Related: Online Reviews Are the New Social Proof
There's too much white noise, which makes your job as an entrepreneur harder than ever.
Because when you break business down into its simplest form, your job is to build enough trust with your audience so they feel comfortable buying from you. In the past, this was easy. All you had to do was appear on TV and they would trust you in an instant.
Today, it's much harder.
Which is why social proof marketing is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan. Because although people may not trust what you have to say about yourself, they do trust what other people have to say about you. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of respondents to its Global Trust in Advertising Report trust the recommendations of friends and family, while BrightLocal found 85 percent of respondents to its Local Consumer Review Survey trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Related: Why You Need Social Proof on Your Website
Social proof marketing provides you a platform to speak to people you do not know yet. From there, you can build their trust, but until you capture their attention you have nothing to work with.
So, how do you do this? It begins with these five types of social proof marketing you need to start using now.
1. Customer action proof
This sort of social proof marketing comes direct from your customers' mouth. It involves them saying:
- "I bought this, it was great."
- "I downloaded this guide."
- "I watched this video."
- "I attended this webinar and stayed until the end."
It isn't specific and doesn't offer any tangible results, but it does show your audience that other people have already taken action, and that the content you create is valuable.
When it comes to social proof marketing, this is the bare minimum. Without this, you cannot expect people who do not know you to trust you in any form.
2. Testimonial proof
These are the generic testimonials you have no doubt seen on countless websites, book covers and product pages. It involves an industry influencer saying something like:
- "When I need help with online marketing, I turn to Scott."
- "Scott is the most engaging speaker I have ever seen."
- "When Scott publishes a new video, I make sure I watch it."
Again, this form of social proof marketing isn't specific. It doesn't dive into any tangible result, but it can prove influential in your audience's decision-making. It reaffirms to them that you are someone to trust, and that what you create is worth their attention. You build authority through an association with someone else.
3. Authority proof
There are many ways to prove your authority, although much of it revolves around PR:
- "Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine"
- "Named Top 10 Marketer in Entrepreneur.com"
- "New York Times Bestselling Author"
Social proof marketing like this helps you build an element of authority. Whether it focuses around a publication, TV show or "top 10" list, it shows your audience that you are someone worth listening to.
Although a few logos on your website won't help you build long-lasting trust, it does elevate you to a certain level with someone who has just met you.
4. Social media proof
This is where it gets interesting. In today's social media-centered world, this form of social proof marketing can prove very influential. It focuses on:
- How many followers you have;
- How many likes or comments a post gets;
- Whether your profile is "verified."
This is a more powerful form of social proof marketing because it provides instant and tangible results.
It proves to others that hundreds of people have read your post and liked it. They can see how popular your community is, and the sort of impact you have on others. It's an organic form of social proof, because although you can manipulate the previous three approaches, it's harder to do so here.
Related: How Online Customer Reviews Help SEO and Drive Sales Growth
5. Case study proof
This is the most powerful form of social proof marketing, and it involves your actual customers providing in-depth video testimonials or case studies.
When it comes to building meaningful trust with your audience, a short, three-minute video goes a long way. It doesn't need high production value or a well-known authority figure. A "real" customer is enough, so long as she explains how you helped her, and the impact you've had on her business.
A case study video creates a journey, showing your audience where you customer used to be, the gap between the problem and solution, and the process you took to fix it.
Hands down, this is the best form of social proof marketing because it's the most specific. It won't help you capture someone's attention (that's what the other four types are for), but when it comes to building real trust and authority, this is what you need and this is how you get the sale.
So, whatever your aim for this year is, be sure to make social proof marketing a priority. It not only helps you build trust with your audience, but it simplifies their decision-making. Without this in your marketing plan, you will struggle to go from six to seven figures. Your job is to stand out from the white noise, and this is how you do it.