You are more likely to sell your book or service if people see social proof that others have bought it and enjoyed the experience. Here’s how it’s done.
What is social proof?
Social proof shows people how your book or service is regarded by others. It provides endorsement that you’re worthy of their trust. It builds the confidence of potential readers or clients.
For example, the more social media followers you have, the more others will be interested in taking a look at you (and the more your posts will appear on news feeds, thanks to social media’s picky algorithms).
Here’s a classic example of social proof from the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. Notice what the lady at the next table says at the end of the clip. That’s social proof in action.
Social proof is strongly linked to FOMO: ‘fear of missing out’. We’re a curious species, eager to know what is capturing the attention of so many people and often desperate to be a part of it.Social proof is strongly linked to FOMO: ‘fear of missing out’. Click To Tweet
The term ‘social proof’ is often understood to refer to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where the more comments, Likes and Followers you have, the greater your social proof.
It’s actually wider than those outlets.
Book reviews, testimonials and blog comments are other, often neglected, ways in which to expand your social proof.
Beware of negative social proof
Negative social proof does not refer to having a small number of followers, or people saying bad things about you or your work.
It’s when lots of people do something wrong, so it feels less wrong for you to do it. Cathy Stucker gives a clear explanation of this in her post: Negative Social Proof Does NOT Work.
Avoid saying things like:
“Only a small number of people have bought my book. Please buy a copy.”
Apart from sounding desperate, this gives the message to potential new readers that it’s ok not to buy your book, as lots of others haven’t bought it either.
Obviously don’t lie about your book flying off the shelves if it hasn’t. Instead, focus on what your work can offer people and how it can help them.
“I’m free to edit your website immediately because no one realises what an amazing editor I am.”
Why is it up to potential clients to “realise” what a fantastic editor you are? Showing them that previous clients think you’re amazing would be far more likely to convince them to take a chance on you.
How you can use social proof
Here are some easy ways to include social proof on your website or your social media posts. Try some of these and see what effect they have on book sales, client enquiries, website visits and social media activity:
Ratings and reviews
- Ratings – quick for people to give and good visuals. Usually in the form of one to five stars.
- Reviews – impartial reports from readers or clients. These can be positive or negative.
Positive reviews can have a place on your homepage, and on your book landing pages or service pages. For example, see how I use positive reviews on my manuscript copyediting and proofreading services pages.
The platform on which you’re selling or promoting your books (Amazon, Goodreads etc) will show positive and negative reviews. This is fine – people may doubt the integrity of the reviews if there isn’t a balance of glowing ones and less shiny ones.
These are similar to reviews, but serve more as endorsements from named figures or organisations. These are only positive, so should also feature on your homepage, book landing pages or services webpages.
You can easily design some cracking testimonial animations in Canva to really stand out on social media. My step-by-step guide on testimonials with Canva animation shows you how (with pictures!) A simple example of what you can do is below (press Play):
Seek out testimonials from known authors, publications and other esteemed sources. Offer a free copy of your book and ask for social media shares in exchange. Which leads us nicely onto…
Social media presence
As your social media presence grows, you can use this to your advantage on your website by displaying share counts and follower numbers.
However, beware of damaging your reputation by displaying stats too early in your social media ‘career’. Showing Follower numbers and Share counts for your pages before you’ve built up a large following will show people you aren’t popular (in the grand scheme of things) and will count against you.Beware of damaging your reputation by displaying too early in your social media 'career'. Click To Tweet
WordPress plugins such as Social Warfare allow you to set a minimum number of shares before the information is displayed on your site.
Find out more in Colin Newcomer’s post: How to Use Social Media as Social Proof.
How are you using social proof on your website or social media platforms? Let me know in the comments!