Social proof is a form of conformity. Part of human behavior is to look to the actions of others as a gauge of how we should act. While social proof covers many areas, we’re going to focus on how it works in marketing. To be more precise, we want to learn how to build trust in our brand by using the psychological phenomenon of social proof.
Social proof gained the forefront in marketing with the publication of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion in 1984. With the relatively recent onslaught of social media, social proof has gained even more importance.We now face a crowded field as everyone fights to gain the most followers, and grab the most attention. We even have a new group of people who are not famous because of great accomplishments but are merely famous for being famous. Some popular examples include Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.
One way to break through this noise is by actually accomplishing something of value. The social proof of your accomplishments comes in the form of awards.
Choose the awards you want to earn
Do not wait for someone to notice your accomplishments. Instead, target awards that will produce the greatest effect. You want awards that will form the most effective social proof and will build the most trust.
- Choose awards that are industry specific. If you are a healthcare organization, for example, winning an award for the design of your website does little to encourage trust in your ability to provide effective healthcare. Choose awards that are specific to your area of expertise.
- Choose local awards. No matter how far across the world your company may reach, you will still have a large number of local fans and customers. You do not have to focus only on local awards, but they are important to your local customers. Local awards mean more to your local customers and they also help build trust with non-local customers. For example, winning the Minnesota Best Customer Service Award will build trust with companies across the world but will mean more to Minnesota customers.
- Choose particular employees. Although most of your efforts should go into seeking awards for your company, don’t forget your employees. Many awards are granted only to individuals, and these awards aid in building trust for the entire company.. As an added bonus, helping your employees earn awards increases their value for and satisfaction with your business. And don’t forget certifications. Certifications also build credibility so help your employees earn them. Allow your employees to seek certifications during company time and use company funds.
Make the world aware of your awards
Of course, you can’t build trust with your awards if no one knows about them. Along with social media, there are other tried-and-true methods that work well.
- Social media. Social media platforms such Facebook and Twitter should be utilized with care. Our inclination is to brag too much, not too little. Yes, mention your award in a post exclusively focused on announcing it, but don’t write post after post about it. Mention it once prominently, and then slip it in occasionally. Don’t forget to use any other social media platforms, including Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.[Download our FREE Social Media Calendar Template here!]
- Blog. Your company blog is where your customers come, not only for useful industry and product information but also for information about your company. Plus, Google loves blogs. Remember, don’t just write an article bragging about the award, use it as an opportunity to help your prospective customers build trust.
- Press release. This is one of those tried-and-true methods I mentioned. Online press release services like prweb.com and newswire.com make it easy to spread the word about your award to hundreds of online news agencies.
While awards can be effective at building trust through social proof, do not rely on them alone. Nothing can replace building trust through trustworthy behavior. Treat everyone with respect and integrity. Build high-quality products. Provide high-quality service.
Just as building character is essential to personal trust, it is also important for building trust in your organization. Awards cannot replace character, only enhance it.