How to: Use Social Proof to Drive Sales

Traditional businesses use customer testimonies such as in a brochure at the Dentist’s office or on a page on their website in order to give a human voice to a brand. It allows a business to demonstrate “someone else recommends this, you may like it too.” Social proof is the idea that people are already talking about your brand online. Oftentimes, they are saying positive things! Thus, it would be beneficial for businesses to take those conversations and use them to their advantage with the easily accessible social media tools at their fingertips.

Facebook has made it simple for your audience to express interest in your business, your content, and anything else related to your brand. People can “like” it, “share” it, and “comment” on just about anything posted on the platform, which in turn can be seen and shared by anyone else on Facebook. For example, if I’m on Facebook and I see a friend has “liked” and/or “commented” on a blog post by your business, I may be more apt to check out the post because a friend has “advocated” on behalf of your brand. It is social proof via New Media (which people get at their fingertips all across the globe within seconds). I may be just as apt to check out a post or brand that has comments or likes by numerous people, and/or a person who is “influential” and has shown his or her interest in your brand. If he/she likes it, I may too.

A great example is Amazon (below) — a business that regularly posts on Facebook such as this upcoming announcement (see below). It has 219 “likes” and 174 “comments” — I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty intrigued and I would assume that I’m not the only one. These numbers, this “proof” of interaction, can reel in more of your target audience if you pump out valuable content and use Facebook and Twitter to your benefit. Now the key is to show your audience how people are interacting with you and how often they are.

Twitter is a great way to show off your numbers and real-time engagement. And there are a bunch of helpful & free tools to make it easier for you:

Tweetizen: You can use this web-based app to embed a Twitter widget in your blog and have your stream rolling in real time, (all the time) for people to see when they visit your blog. Therefore when someone visits your blog, they will see the positive commentary going on about your brand in “real-time.” For example, if I visit a blog for a new service I am considering and see that someone just Tweeted “wow, what great easy-to-use app and great/reliable customer service available for questions or issues that arise,” I am more apt to invest further into the app. I would more likely trust a fellow consumer’s praise on a brand than what it says on the brand’s website about themselves. Consumers trust consumers – who doesn’t look on Yelp before they go to a restaurant? Social Proof. Tweetizen is great for this because a simple and easy-to-use widget, which allows you to stream recent tweets, or specific hashtags. Best part:  it’s free. Believing that Twitter is “one of the biggest hubs of activity on the Internet” the team of wanted to assist users with the use of Twitter. The service allows people to utilize Twitter badges and widgets which can be your “latest tweets” and/or search results from a stream. Thus, you can tailor what your target audience sees when they come to your site/blog. For example, if you are having a conference and want to show conversation is going on, you can focus on conversation with the conference hashtag to be streamed. Then visitors to your site will see in “real-time” the tweets of people want to attend, are attending, and those who are “pumped” about this certain conference. They’ll talk about speakers who are going to be there, what they learned, who they met — advocating on behalf of your brand. Awesome. is also a free tool.

Twubs: Not only does Twubs have a super cute mascot, but it has an embeddable widget feature which allows photos and videos. This photo and video option is awesome because it gives the opportunity to add a human face to your product/ service/ business by highlighting the community. If you have an event, embed a Flickr slideshow of pictures from it on the blog and show people having fun. This proves people like your brand and are proud to show it! And if you preferFacebook over Flickr, Facebook allows you to tag people easily so you can add more value to each picture and event album. In addition, rather than Twubs being a typical Tweet stream, the stream would be built around a particular hashtag (aka subject you are focusing on such as a product name you may be launching) so your audience can see what’s being said about whatever it is that you want them to know about. If there’s a large chatter going on, your audience will see it through this widget in real-time. Social Proof. (p.s. It’s Free).

Tweetmeme: Part of me just loves saying the name of this Twitter app, but aside from that it is known as the “retweet button” app. It allows for a button to be placed on your blog or website so people who visit can retweet content on Twitter. Awesome, right? And…the button allows for people who visit your blog/site to see a real-time count of how many times your content has been Tweeted. So, if I see great content (that other people are also commenting and raving about) — I may retweet it too! Social Proof. Tweetmeme also has this exact same option for a “follow” button for people to instantly follow and to keep a real-time  count of the amount of followers as well. There is also integration capability with Twitter Counter, Twitalyzer, andTwittergrader. Free but there is also a Pro version which you can Sign Up to find out more details regarding.

Twitter Counter: A great way to show of f the number of Twitter followers you have on your site. Simple and to the point. If you have a lot of followers, people will notice and check out what you have to say and talk/Tweet about it too. Social Proof. In addition, there are further options such as a Twitter Feedburner (like for your RSS but for Twitter). Pretty cool and its free for the widget but to get your analytics there are 2 pro plans: $15 or $25/month depending on the plan you prefer.

 Zuberance: A great tool to “energize your brand advocates.” It’s a platform that is basically made for you to give your current/future loyal consumers the chance to be  “brand advocates”and to talk even more awesome things about your brand (including ratings, reviews, and stories) on your behalf across the social sites like Twitter andFacebook. Then you can track how this progress is going and see how beneficial it has been for your brand. For Pricing and Plans: Contact Sales.

Thus, social proof is awesome and can be shown off even more via free (or cheap) tools at your disposal. Why worry about what to say about your brand to sell your product/service when people are already saying great things for you? Your loyal consumers are your brand advocates and the key (the social proof) to gaining future consumers (driving more sales). When consumers talk – other consumers listen. Use their words to your advantage with the ease of the widgets and apps discussed above.

So take a chance, check out my Toolkit, and give these helpful apps a try…did I mention they’re mostly free?!

Repeat: Good Customer Service = Loyalty

As I entered Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square with a girlfriend of mine, I was impressed with the layout, decor, and atmosphere. Then the hostess spoke – and it was all ruined. Just kidding. Actually the two hostesses were delightfully polite and were able to seat us sooner than we expected. We took seats at the oyster bar further back — which gave us a great view of everyone who entered and was seated — and of course of the delicious oysters being shucked. The bartender who served us was not only kind and knowledgeable about the oysters, menu, and wine list, but very attentive, well-mannered, and a joy to be seated near. And by the time we were stuffed and ready to be rolled out of the restaurant, the chef came out to speak with us. Now I must say, I felt slightly like royalty at this restaurant, and it was only my first visit.

What’s my point, you ask? Great customer service is key to bringing about a loyal consumer. Everyone who I encountered in the restaurant was polite, friendly and a pleasure to speak with. There was not one person who did not smile and say hello. Thus, whatever brand you may be – a hotel, a retail store, a website, a phone company, a law firm, or a restaurant — customer service is not only a key point in consumer loyalty, but a necessity. As I had mentioned in my previous post about Amazon, it was the “service” that made me “loyal.”

Thank you Island Creek Oyster Bar – you have a fan in me. And to all those out there who wonder how they can win over more consumers who will speak praises, just walk into this restaurant and learn.

Customer service can make or break a brand

Customer service is key to a brand having loyalty by a consumer — at least for me, that’s the case. For example, recently an item I purchased via Amazon was not delivered. My online status said “delivered” but said package was not on my doorstep. I immediately thought “crap! Someone took it!” — “now what?” Well I phoned Amazon and asked if they knew what happened, and they realized it was accidentally delivered to the wrong address. I was dismayed because I was really hoping to have the item that day. What did Amazon do? They promised to have the item delivered by end of business the next day. I was relieved and the matter was squared away within less than 5 minutes. Unbelievable — I got a person on the phone, she was polite, she answered my questions, and fixed the problem! Is it sad, that I was surprised this actually happened? Sad, indeed. An even bigger surprise was that my package came within 12 hours – I had it the next morning! All I can say is, Amazon – you rock! I am a loyal consumer, and will not falter (unless you fail me – but please don’t!)

Customer Service – the bedrock of customer brand loyalty.