Peter LaMotte

How Social Proof Can Boost Your Brand Awareness Strategy

By: Peter LaMotte | July 16, 2014 | 

How Social Proof Can Boost Your Brand Awareness StrategyBy Peter LaMotte

Having a powerful brand message certainly drives an effective brand awareness strategy, but so does a little basic psychology.

Knowing what motivates people to act — particularly in the volatile and ever-fluctuating realm of social media — is an added advantage for every business seeking a bigger “brand footprint” in the marketplace.

In a recent article, Ed Hallen, co-founder of the email marketing platform Klaviyo, offers several fascinating examples of “social proof” – the idea that people do what others do, based on the assumption that “those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.”

Hallen offers several examples of how social proof works in social media marketing (and, by extension, management of your all-important brand reputation).

His examples follow.

Expert Social Proof

When your business gets an industry leader’s Facebook “Like,” Twitter mention, or blog post citing, it’s a sign that someone with authority (an “influencer”) has given your product or service a social media stamp of approval.

If that influencer has a significant reputation, “anything else they are involved with is seen more positively by association. This is why influencer testimonials work.”

User Social Proof

Positive online reviews, testimonials, and case studies are inherently more persuasive than a batch of statistics.

People trust and relate to what others like them have to say about a brand or business.

Wisdom of the Crowd’s Social Proof

When a business accumulates large numbers of social media followers, it ends up having a snowball effect. Others join in, drawn by the “crowd effect,” further swelling the numbers and making the brand even stronger.

Hallen goes on to say:

FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) is “a form of social anxiety, and it’s a compulsive concern that one might miss out on an opportunity. This anxiety is especially relevant for social media, as the sharing of what’s going on in our daily lives means you can constantly compare your status to others on these platforms.

Give Your Audience the Content They Want

Understanding your target audience inside and out is an absolute prerequisite for managing your brand reputation.

  • What challenges do they face?
  • How do they want to improve their lives and/or their businesses?
  • What types of content can you provide that will genuinely engage and entertain them?

In addition to content itself, the way you present it will appeal differently to different audiences.

Some like to skim text.

Others enjoy watching 60-second videos.

Still others prefer the eye-catching blend of copy and graphics offered by infographics.

Writer Sara Crawford notes:

When you understand the psychology behind how to deliver your content, you encourage users to ‘like’ your posts, post comments, and share with their friends. This is the way social media becomes extremely valuable to your brand.

Track Your Content and Be Responsive

Google Analytics offers an easy way to identify the content that gains the most traction with readers and drives the most traffic to your site. Just as important, you can add the psychological component of urgency to the mix by responding to user comments and questions in a timely manner.

For example, unhappy customers these days have a disconcerting habit of announcing their displeasure on all of their social media channels. If you’re not paying attention, your brand can sustain a great deal of damage, not all of which can be repaired if your response comes too late.

But, as Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom notes,

If you’re listening, you can address the issue and seize the opportunity to show the world how great your customer service is, while also humanizing your brand.

What’s more psychologically effective than putting a human face on your brand?

A brand people can relate to — and follow loyally on social media — is strong, durable, and able to recover from any sort of brand mishap.

photo credit: id-iom via photopin cc

About Peter LaMotte

Peter LaMotte is a senior vice president at LEVICK and chair of the firm’s digital communications practice. He is a contributing author to LEVICK Daily, where he routinely writes about social media marketing and online reputation management.

  • Oh, FOMO! Sometimes I giggle at the term (is that only because I learned it from 22-year-olds?), but it’s so accurate. I think we’re all affected by a bit of FOMO at least some of the time.

    Thanks for this Peter!

  • The concept of social proof is fascinating, and I think it is illustrated best by the example that reviews are more trusted than stats. I think it is what makes those reader’s choice contests so popular – and beneficial. If the consumers picked you, you must be the best, right?

  • Humanize, humanize, humanize. This is such a huge issue and too often brands get so caught up in the bings and bangs that they forget that they are working, selling, and talking to people. People want to talk to people, not brands.

  • LauraPetrolino And, as Ed Zitron preached earlier this afternoon, be a *real* human – leave the jargon and business speak at the door. No human beings *I* know talk like that. Well, ok, maybe one or two….

  • Eleanor Pierce it is SUCH an accurate term — and although I suppose it has always existed, social media has put FOMO on hyperdrive, I think!

  • Agree on the need for presenting content in different ways to appeal to different tendencies. The fact that so many things are presented via video these days (instruction manuals, campaign explanations, all sorts of things) presents a practical problem – when I was working I couldn’t sit and watch a 60 second video (but I could skim written stuff) and when I am on my phone I don’t want to use up data which is a disincentive. I enjoyed this piece!

  • I am going to send this to a client of ours. He is EXCELLENT at social proof. He knows exactly what his prospects want to know: Who is using it, where do they work, and what results have then seen? He answers all three of those questions with social proof.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I really like how Applied Educational Systems uses social proof.

  • I think we need to close our eyes from social media!!! there are lots of things we can enjoy why do we need to anxiety about like, share and comments?

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  • Social media reputation is easily manipulated or even bought. But people believe, what they want to believe. Still, social media remains trendy until it is not any longer. Is it here to stay? Yes, but is the current hype overblown, for sure. Social media si and will be a tool to communicate, but IMHO, people will pay less attention to the noise over time. Michael