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If you have ever been in a dilemma deciding where to go for dinner and you end up choosing the more popular restaurant of the options you have: congratulations, you are living, breathing, evidence of social proof.

Social proof is the psychological concept that people will conform to the actions of a group under the assumption that those actions are “correct.” It’s also known as social influence. For example, if you see a large crowd of people anxiously looking up at the sky, naturally, you are inclined to do so as well. In business, we see this concept every day manifested in our consumers’ purchasing habits. When you buy something online, you are more likely to read the reviews for an item and purchase something that is more popular among your peers than an item that has no reviews at all. In fact, studies have shown that some 84% of the population trust online reviews as much as they trust their real friends. So, that begs the question: how do we harness the power of social proof to benefit our brand? The answer is quite simple, really: social media.

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that you are the brand with the most credibility, or social proof, to drive more interest in your product. The six types of social proof—expert, celebrity, user, crowd, friends, and certification—are a great guide to help you create social content that will get you recognized.

In this blog, I’ll show you five tips that are just a few of the ways that you can use a common phenomenon in your favor.

1. Provide Proof

Social media’s power reaches far beyond the actual app itself. If you are looking for ways to use social media to cause a stir on your behalf, think about showing real-time social media follower counts on your website. It is incredibly easy to set this up and it can be a useful tactic if you’re trying to show the popularity of your products. Even if you don’t want to have an updated number of followers on your page, you can share Tweets about your brand on your website, reminding visitors that you’re not only credible, but you’re also being talked about. Popularity means attention, and the more attention you get, the closer to a sale you are.

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 2. Utilize Industry Experts

The strongest voices are usually the ones that excite the crowd, whether that be a celebrity or experts in your industry. It’s called the halo effect; if someone reads an article or a post written by someone they love and respect, automatically anything associated with that person is held at a higher regard than it was before. A lot of invitations to industry experts are win-win situations for everyone involved, as they are getting to reach your audience just as much as you are reaching theirs.

3. Be Grateful

This tip is quick and easy: show gratitude to your followers for standing by you through time. Social proof is all about credibility and respect, so being grateful for the people that help you every day can’t hurt you, it can only put you in higher regard.

You can thank your followers for:

  • Reaching a certain amount of users
  • Reaching a certain number of downloads
  • Anniversaries
  • Reaching a certain number of followers on your accounts

These are such simple, ten-second Tweets or posts that can really do wonders for your account and your followers.

4. Actually Respond

Yes, easier said than done. The larger your account gets, the harder it is to respond to your followers. But, while you’re still growing, take the time to interact with the people who reach out to you. Think about some of the brands that you know and love. Do they ignore the comments and messages that they receive, or do they take the time out of their day to send over a quick “thank you” or, even better, a creative response that makes them memorable? Social proof accounts for the reliability of the brand in question, so if you are ignoring your followers and neglecting your account entirely, you don’t look credible. Radio silence isn’t a great tactic, but neither is obsessively responding to positive or negative comments. Be smart about what you respond to and how often you do so. Once you start getting in the habit of actually replying, you’ll find your sweet spot and know just how many comments are “too many.”

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5. Live Tweet or Livestream

Okay, okay, so a live stream can be a hassle. While it can be difficult to set up and nerve-wracking in its buildup, watching the views of your stream climb while you record is very rewarding! You can see how social proof works just by watching a stream on your personal account. If you see a prominent person or business doing a live stream on a social channel and there are hundreds, or even thousands, of views, you are more inclined to watch just simply out of the assumption that something exciting will happen. Studies show that people watch live streams for the same reasons that they watch TV. Consumers want to stay up-to-date, informed, involved, and connected with whatever programming they watch. It’s also been shown that the majority of people who watch live content will use a search engine to search for whoever created that content. Provide your followers and prospects with the opportunity to follow along with your brand on a stream like this and you will certainly see the benefits that social proof has to offer.

What do you think of social proof and implementing it in your social media strategy? Where have you been successful in using it and more importantly, where has it not worked? Sound off in the comments and tell us what you think!

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