Updated: Jan 21, 2021
You read reviews when shopping online and if you're anything like me, you probably do some sort of research when you make a big purchase (anything over $50...). Companies and entrepreneurs alike value the final sale as the holy grail, but a purchase shouldn't be your only conversion metric when measuring success.
What people say can often be, just as, or more important than the sale. And what they say is not just limited to product reviews on Amazon or your website anymore. With the introduction of services like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shopping, all the information potential customers need is right on your profile.
This is what Social Proof is. It is that pre-purchase validation the customer needs to see if your brand is worth engaging with, let alone buying from.
So you might be wondering, "How is this any different from product reviews online?" Well, here's how:
Social media has given small and large companies alike different platforms where they can develop a real brand and nurture a connection from scratch with customers. It provided a new avenue for relationship building that had never been seen before! When customers leave a comment on a profile, not only is it possibly a reflection of their views of the product or service but their experience with the entire brand itself.
Say, for example, you leave a bad review on Amazon. Sure other shoppers may see that review, but it is a reflection of the product to which that review applies to. Leave a bad review brand's Instagram picture and it's a whole different story. That nasty comment may apply to a faulty product that a customer received, but it's the placement of that comment (or a series of comments) that could make or break your business in a heartbeat. A bad review on your profile is a bad review for your brand in general since your social media profile is a reflection not only of the product you sell but of a user's experience with you as a whole.
Building social proof is basically building your brand from scratch. Unless you are a Fortune 500 or already have thousands of people that know about your brand, chances are you have plenty of leeway when constructing an online personality. The beauty of these platforms is that you can take different approaches to build your brand in a way you and your customers will appreciate.
Want a traditional, serious feel? Go for it.
Want to fill your page with well-thought-out valuable information? Awesome.
Meme page? Go ahead. (And yes, this last one works extraordinarily well.)
It is no longer about making the best product. Quite frankly, it never has been. What businesses and entrepreneurs should focus on is the complete customer experience. From pre-purchase (providing as much value as humanly possible) to post-purchase (nurturing the relationship so that these customers turn into advocates). When you build your community of loyal customers and fans your social proof will grow organically and so will your sales and long-term reputation.