How To Use Social Proof

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

— Mark Zuckerberg, CEO

People have always made decisions on what to wear, eat, listen to, visit, and buy based on referrals from friends. Why else would mullets exist? One friend convinced a few others it was a good idea. Thanks, Tom!

Nothing has changed today.

A friend just called and asked me where he should go while visiting Chattanooga (I lived in Chattanooga for a while during our nomadic days). I spouted off a few places and I’m willing to bet they make it to those spots while visiting.

I casually mentioned a fantastic ice cream spot here in Boulder (Glacier…not fancy but so good) to another friend this week. I’ll bet he takes his family the next time they get ice cream.

I had a client reach out this week and tell me they need help with website development and maintenance. I passed along a recommendation and now the site developer I recommended has a new client.

These are three simple examples of social proof in one week. I made the decision of where to go easy for each person.

The businesses I recommended didn’t have to do anything beyond delivering a fantastic product or experience to get new customers. No fancy funnels or expensive ads.

You should also note that these businesses are in vastly different industries. Referrals are industry-agnostic. From craft beer to CRM software, people want to know they’re making the right choice.

What about when you don’t have a friend to ask?

Great question. Referrals are now compounded with the presence of Google ratings and reviews. When we don’t have a trusted friend to tell us who to pick, we go to the Google machine.

In an unfamiliar city and looking for a restaurant? We go to Google and filter out all of the restaurants with anything below 4-stars. Then we read the reviews of the remaining restaurants to find the perfect fit.

We’re simply seeking social proof to reinforce our decision. This is referrals at scale. Like friend referrals, ratings and reviews have become industry-agnostic.

I don’t care what you sell. You need referrals. I encourage you to spend a few minutes today to determine how you can become easier to refer.

Can you improve your product to make it more memorable?

Are there simple changes you can make in the way your product is delivered?

Are you dropping the ball somewhere in the service experience?

Do you leave clients with a bad taste in their mouth?

How do you look online? Is there an opportunity to improve how you appear to someone searching Google?

Focus on becoming referable. Build systems to make it easy. The time you spend won’t be wasted.

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