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Wikipedia introduces “social proof” like so: “Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation. This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”

To put it simply, social proof is what people use to help them make decisions when they’re not quite sure which decision to make.

Five different types of social proof:

  • Expert social proof  
    When your product or service gets a stamp of approval from a credible expert such as an industry blogger.
  • Celebrity social proof
    Approval of your product or endorsements from celebrities.
  • User social proof
    Support from current users of a product or service, including customer testimonials, case studies and online reviews.
  • Wisdom of the crowds social proof
    Proof that highlights popularity or large numbers of users. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is McDonald’s signs displaying “billions served.”
  • Wisdom of your friends social proof  
    When our peers or friends “like” or approve products or services.

Socialproof.com’s infographic “Social Proof – The Art of Influence Marketing” highlights the importance of social proof in this day and age. A few of the main findings from the infographic include the following points:

  • 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 76 percent of Americans look at reviews when determining which local business to use.
  • 70 percent of consumers say they trust opinions posted online.
  • 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family.

BrightLocal’s study found that nearly 80 percent of consumers trust online review sites as much as personal recommendations. Their study also found that 88 percent of consumers read online customer reviews to determine which local business to use.

10 ways to create social proof online for your real estate business

1. Add testimonials to your personal and company website, as well as to any other applicable websites. Remember to include names for credibility purposes.

2. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations.

3. Encourage your purchasers and sellers to write reviews on your Facebook business page.

4. Ask your raving fans to create a short video testimonial. Videos are now easy to accomplish — you can even use a smartphone.

5. Utilize client photos effectively. One idea is to have your sellers take a photo of themselves in front of the yard sign, and then upload it to Facebook. Then ask them to tag your business page in their Facebook post.

6. If you’ve been featured in a popular blog, website, newspaper or TV show, make sure to display that on your website and online profiles.

7. Encourage retweets, “likes,” shares and comments on Facebook; they are all examples of social proof. If you see that your online friends have liked an update or retweeted a blog post, you are more likely to read it than if the company itself had done so.

8. Showcase awards you have won and recognition you have received. Display industry accreditations, appropriate badges and logos.

9. Utilize Facebook advertising such as the “boost post” option on your updates to gain rapid exposure. This enables your update to be seen by a new, and targeted, audience.  Facebook mentions the names of any other friends who have already liked the page, and encourages others who see your posts to “like” your page as well.

10. Collaborate with a complementary business in your industry in administering an active blog. Arrange to be a guest blogger — write relevant, interesting and shareable content. This will allow you to reach a new audience, as well as add value to the business you are collaborating with. Do some research and see how many people subscribe to the blog and where it is promoted beforehand to ensure it is worth your time and effort.

And now for a bonus tip: There are many widgets and plug-ins available for adding to your website that will display how many followers you have on your different social profiles. Displaying your followers is an excellent example of social proof.

What do you do to gain social proof? Please feel free to add in the comments section other ways you have added social proof to your online profiles.

Avelyn Holcroft-Lewer of buildmyprofile.co.nz is an online presence educator specializing in supporting and educating the real estate industry to build active and engaging online profiles. From delivering customized training webinars, seminars and presentations, through to setting up and managing Facebook and other online profiles, Avelyn believes in providing practical, value-added solutions.

Email Avelyn Holcroft-Lewer.