If you’re a blogger, you probably want to be popular online OR if you’re looking for passive income from your blog, you probably want a loyal community online. Either way, this post is for both types of blogger.
In this post, you’ll find a complete break-down of something called Social Proof.
What Is Social Proof?
A lot my readers and friends have asked me questions about the issue of becoming more popular online or building up a loyal community for their blogs. Until recently I haven’t had a concrete term for the subject at hand. But sometime in the last year, I’ve heard the phrase ‘social proof’ used quite a bit in the blogging community. I like the term.
So, what does ‘social proof’ really mean?
If you have social proof, then people will assume you’re popular, correct, or otherwise worth their time. You’ve made it, at least in your niche.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people’s decisions are influenced by making the assumption that surrounding people know more about certain situations than you do.
In layman’s terms: groups of people have influence and the larger the group, the more influence they have.
For example, if you’re at the mall and you see a huge crowd of people huddled around a store, you’re more than likely going to check it out, or at least acknowledge the crowd of people and wonder what the big deal is.
There’s a lot more to it than just getting likes, tweets, or shares. Your goal is to do larger things – like creating a community around you and an aura of popularity on your blog or website.
It’s similar to a landslide effect. Do a few things right, other people will notice and give approval. Then, the popularity will snowball until you’re irresistible!
Why should we even care though? Because attaining that kind of social proof is the ultimate prize of blogging. Do you want your e-book to go viral? Do you want to write “Good Morning!” on Google+ and get 500 pluses in an hour? If you’re reading this, I’ll assume that’s a ‘yes’.
Some People with Social Proof on the Web
To give you some examples of how important social proof is, let’s look and see who in the blogosphere already has social proof, then, look at how they’re using it to grow their online empires.
Who: Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki is a former Apple employee who now runs his own businesses, like Alltop. He has close to 4 million followers on Google+.
What do they do?
Guy’s uses his social proof to publish books on publishing books, and on Google+. His audience and reach are so humongous that you can bet he brings in sales with the drop of a hat.
Who: Allie Brosh
Allie Brosh is an artist. She is hilarious – and it’s pretty clear she sees the world uniquely. She created HyperbolandaHalf to showcase her…cartoons. They are fantastically funny and I recommend everyone read them.
What do they do?
Allie has a humongous Facebook community she uses to sell merchandise related to her artwork. Yes, I’ve bought a shirt.
Who: Glen Allsop
Glen is a rogue internet market who’s been around since the early days. He runs a viral marketing workshop that teaches online marketers how to create their best content.
What do they do?
Glen sells a WordPress plugin he built and in a ridiculously tight market consistently tops the charts. I remember when Glen put up a Facebook page button, and within days it was over 1K.
Who: Darren Rowse
Darren is widely regarded as the godfather of blogging and you may have seen his bald head and wide smile on the web. He’s got a huge Facebook community and ranks 1st in Google for many competitive blogging terms.
What do they do?
Darren leverages his social proof to sell wildly popular eBooks on a variety of blogging and photography related topics.
Now let’s move onto the meat and potatoes.
How to Create Social Proof for Your Blog
Before I get into how to create social proof for your blog, I’ve got to give this disclaimer:
There really isn’t an exact science behind social proofing and some people are just going to better at it than others. Think of it like any sport you ever played – no matter how much theory and skills practice, sometimes there is just an ‘unexplainable factor’ that can influence performance during the game.
Here is a complete 4-step guide to attaining social proof on your blog:
Side Note: There are only 4 steps. This is not an exhaustive list, it’s a comprehensive plan I recommend following and referring back to each day.
Step 1: Empowering and Sharing
The first step in building social proof for your blog is to give valuable content to your readership. Content that empowers them and gives them something right there they can take action with. The goal is to help your audience accomplish things.
Give them the information they can’t find anywhere else on the interwebs. Give it to them with blog posts, videos, podcasts, newsletters, or even free eBooks.
Do that and you WILL create an initial following just based on the value of your content?
A huge part of creating relationships involves giving and this is your best way of giving to your audience. Be warned ahead of time though, there are always going to be people who will take advantage of your giving and never give back, but these people are a minority and should be ignored for the most part.
Next, make your content shareable from reader to reader. Your readers are the people who are going to grow your blog for you. And they’ll be happy to do so if you’re giving them great content. Plus, you can only do so much as a lone-wolf content creator.
To get the interaction and sharing going, you have to do everything you can to provide the tools for interaction. Make your comments section attractive, encourage discussion, and create an insider feeling for your audience.
You need to create a feeling of ‘welcome’ as well as ‘exclusivity’.
Those may sound like an oxymoron, but a great way to accomplish this is by building an email list (you ARE building an email list, right?). Another way, if you’re really ambitious, would be creating a forum section for your blog.
Step 2: Be Extra Personal
Your next step to social proof is being extra personal on your blog. And no, I don’t mean pouring your heart out per say. I’m more talking about developing a personal brand so people can attach your face as well as your voice to your blog.
Just remember something very important: People can, and certainly will, get their information and find their answers anywhere on the web today.
People literally need to like you enough if you want them to return to your blog. It’s the truth. Think about your own actions online. I’m sure you’ve visited a lot more blogs just ONCE than blogs you’ve bookmarked for return visits.
That’s the lesson for this section.
Be extra personal, work out a personal brand (see my article link from the first paragraph), and stay consistent with it.
Step 3: Provide Honest Recommendations
I don’t believe in ‘hard-sells’. I’ve used them before for other niche blogs I run, but this sort of internet marketing/blogging advice niche is not the place for pushing you guys. To be frank, you’re too smart for that.
I like a different method that provides you with the same value without pushing it in your face. It’s called honest recommendations. Throughout this blog, you’ll find affiliate links, reading suggestions, and tools of the trade that I actually believe in.
The point is that I’m giving you guy’s honest and real solutions to a problem and I’m not looking to make a sale at any cost. I know you respect that. I know I don’t respect a blog that pushes advice/products/principles in my face and tells me I’m ‘dumb’ if I don’t follow that advice.
The idea is that your audience is going to respect you and your blog a lot more if you respect them. An audience that really respects your blog is going to be 100x more willing to come back, suggest, and share your content with other people.
So, provide honesty in your writings and ramblings. Never take advantage of your readers.
Step 4: Always Exceed Expectations and Deliver ‘The Goods’
This last step is similar to step 3 but it deserves its own explanation. Always deliver on your promises and on the expectations you’ve created for yourself.
If that seems like a burden to you, I can understand. But it’s the reality of building a trusted community around you and your blog. If you want more social proof, then always better yourself and always make a real effort to help your audience better themselves.
If you write two amazing posts that get a ton of shares and/or comments and then suddenly you write a third post and its flop, people may wonder what happened.
They might ask “did this guy give up?”
In the same vein, if you put out three great YouTube tutorials, then the next one better be just as good (at the very least).
However, once you get social proof you will probably notice an occasional ability to ‘cruise with it’. What I mean here – if you’ve got a large and loyal following, sometimes you can produce average content and your ‘raving fans’ might just make it appear to be extraordinary based on your past, socially-awesome, posts. Don’t get greedy with this, but I understand it’s not always possible to create your next best thing EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Just keep in mind – people are just as busy, hungry, and in need of quality content as you are. Even if you’re only publishing once every week, as long as you’re delivering consistently great information to your readership, they will keep coming back for more. And better yet, the valued members of your blog’s community will help spread the word and create social proof for you.
That’s social proof in a nutshell. It’s not so much about fancy tips or tricks. It’s about being the best you can and helping to better other people. Put your readers first and make people enthused to read your blog and you’ll be on your way to creating social proof.
You know what they say? Enthusiasm is contagious.
Finally, Let’s Get Personal
You’ve read through this post on how to get social proof for your blog or website. Do you consider yourself/your blog social proof? How popular would you say you are in your niche? How did you get to that point?
I’d love to hear from you guys and gals. Just leave a comment and let’s continue the discussion on social proof!