We all know how important reviews and testimonials are for businesses, but do you know why they’re important? In this episode, Brenda and Windy talk about breaking down social proof into its most basic forms and how you can build it into your social marketing strategy.
Brenda Ster: Hey, hey everybody! Welcome to another episode of Social Marketing with Sassy Suite. I’m Brenda Ster of Sassy Suite! And joining me, as always, is the delightful and effervescent, pink-haired, Flamingo loving bestie – that’s a really long title on a business card, Windy. Windy Lawson, from Florida! Hey Windy, hey!
Windy Lawson: Hey y’all, hey! We are back and I have to tell you, Brenda, the weirdest thing- it’s actually not raining in Florida for a change.
Brenda: I’m stunned! You know where it is raining? In Arizona! Bizarre. It’s raining in Arizona.
Windy: Which, which Arizona are you in that it’s raining?
Brenda: Exactly, exactly my point. I’m tellin’ ya. So here’s the thing, it’s– we are recording this podcast early October. And it was like, a 110 degrees in Arizona last week and now it’s 60. Arizona is schizophrenic, it was like blisteringly hot and now it’s like, “where are my sweaters?” So, it’s just weird. It’s rainy and cool, it’s like perfect fall weather. I’m a midwestern girl, you guys, I am down with the rain. I’m down with the sweatshirts, but it’s very strange. Anyway, today you guys, today we are digging into a content topic that is new. We haven’t talked about this one before. We’re digging into the topic of social proof. What is it? Why is it important? How do we use it in our social strategy? So social proof is the psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in the attempt to try to determine correct behavior. That’s all big, fancy, you know, theory, academic words of saying, “we look for other people to see what they’re doing, to see what we should do.” We look for other people to say, “ooh, their endorsements mean something.” And online we see this everywhere, we look to others and see how they’re behaving, and it can be a really powerful tool for online marketers since consumers naturally gravitate towards the idea of what are others buying, or what are others saying. So Windy, let’s talk about this, let’s dig into this.
Windy: Yeah, so if you’ve ever — to get away from the theory and talk about practice — if you’ve ever gone, because I’ve done this, gone into a new restaurant or have driven to a new restaurant that just opened, or a new store that’s just opened, and then I get in the parking lot and there’s no cars there. What do you do?
Brenda: That must not be a very good restaurant.
Windy: Right. It must not be a good choice, I’m leaving. I’m using social proof. I’m using the fact that no one else is there as a testament to, “well, it must not be any good.”
Brenda: Right. And as consumers, we do this all the time! We look for social proof a little bit subconsciously even though we don’t realize it. And with the power of the Internet at our fingertips, customers can get a lot of information about your business before they even connect with you. So, for example, have you ever gone on Yelp, or Google, and checked out a business review? I mean, of course we have, right?
Windy: Of course we have.
Brenda: Of course we have! Or we’ve done a little bit of light stalking, right? To see is this somebody I want — especially when we get down to a personal level, when we’re talking with somebody one-on-one. Have you ever, you know, done a little light stalking to see if this person is reputable, as a business person? And as an online marketer, we put on our marketing hat for a minute and we think about social proof in your marketing: how can we use different types of social proof in our marketing? And, you know, it’s — it’s really — think about the separation between being the consumer mindset and the marketer mindset, for one second. The consumer is all about getting the best deal with — from the best service provider. And let’s even use a personal example. Anybody who is single and is going on dates with somebody new, what are they gonna go do? They’re gonna go Google and try to find information about the dude, right? What are they really looking for? Positive social proof! That’s what they are looking for — positive social proof that this is okay and I’m allowed to go on a date with this guy, right?
Windy: When you’re single and ready to flamingle!
Brenda: Flamingle!! It wouldn’t be a podcast without a flamingo joke! I don’t even know. Anyway! So let’s dig into some examples and talk about different kinds of social proof, as a marketer. So, Windy, what kind of examples can we talk about?
Windy: So, first up is case studies. Right? Now, case studies are data driven. A case study is not anecdotal, it’s data driven in-depth analysis of your product or service that you’ve provided your customer with. So, when you think about — if you sell skin care, or health and fitness products — case studies could be really perfect for you, because it’s data-driven. You know exactly how much weight did your customer lose, or what is the evidence that her skin appears firmer, or has more elasticity, or the things that we care about in skin, right?
Windy: So it’s not anecdotal, but it’s data driven, that’s really where case studies come in.
Brenda: So for example, Windy, when we — when people post before-and-after pictures, would that count as case study-based social proof?
Brenda: So — and we see a lot of people do before-and-after pictures, especially around health-related products — where it’s weight loss, or beauty products, or things like that, where there’s literally a visual before-and-after — that is social proof. Because what you’re doing is you’re using someone else’s, someone else’s evidence, someone else’s experience to say, “this is reliable information. Here is the social proof of other people’s success.”
Windy: That’s right, that’s right!
Brenda: Okay. Great example. Another form of social proof is testimonials, and we at Sassy Suite, we love testimonials!
Windy: Oh, yes we do!
Brenda: We ask for them, and we talk about them. And testimonials are short-form really simple recommendations typically text-based from happy customers, and the customers writing their feedback in their own words. So we, quite literally, solicit them. We ask for them and social proof is where we can see someone else’s literal first-hand experience of why the service or product might have been valuable.
Windy: That’s right, so if you’ve ever written about, “this was my experience with this,” that’s a testimony, right?
Brenda: Yup! Exactly!
Windy: Your customers have done that. Going back to the case study, Brenda, if you were doing these before-and-after pictures, and you attach that to someone’s experience —
Brenda: Right —
Windy: — now, you’ve sort of created a testimonial with a case study.
Brenda: With a case study! With evidentiary proof of someone saying, “I – I’m talking about the good things and now I’m showing you so you can see it with your own eyes the good things.”
Brenda: We have a couple of examples of this in the Suite recently. We’ve had a couple examples. And they’d even been some unsolicited testimonials. We’ve done a couple of boot camps recently, and we’ve had some people who went through Pinterest Boot Camp, and then had been, quite literally posting screenshots of their before-and-after Pinterest data in their insights and saying, “I went from zero to a 100,000 reach on Pinterest in a month.” And so, that’s case study, it’s data-driven, it’s a before-and-after picture, and it’s a testimonial all wrapped into one in.
Brenda: And what people often will say, see is, “how did you do that?” And then it refers directly to a product or service that we might be providing. So there’s a lot of value wrapped up in those types of unsolicited testimonials. Unsolicited versus solicited, I think there’s another angle there as well. Solicited is we ask for the endorsement or the review. There’s social proof there, but unsolicited actually carried a little bit more weight, I think. How come, what do you think Windy?
Windy: Well because when someone is so excited about the outcome, the service that they’ve received, what they’ve gained from — in our situation — from that coaching, that they literally can’t wait to tell people. They just can’t wait to tell people. Because they’re so blown–
Brenda: Right! Like “look! If you want, you need to do this too! This is so great: I’ve lost weight, my eyelashes are longer, I’ve increased my Pinterest reach!” Whatever it is, I’ve had this success and oh my gosh — I want, I wanna share that success.” So I think there’s a lot of power, powerful value there.
Windy: Yeah and you know, similar to testimonials are reviews. So reviews are — they’re like testimonials. Right? A testimonial is, “I’m writing my story to you of what happens, when I use your product.” But a review is more objective, so a review typically is the consumer is answering specific questions, typically on a scale of like, 1 to 5, or 1 to 10, you know, would you recommend this? How was the service? One is poor and five is great, right? So that is what reviews look like.
Windy: And so if you have a review system, where people give you a five-star review, or a three-star review, they may, or may not include the short-form, sort of personal experience narrative. Now, the thing to remember though here, Brenda, is that reviews can, sort of, be good, neutral, or bad. Testimonials are always good. People aren’t gonna–
Windy: We’re not gonna have a testimonial that’s bad.
Brenda: Right! Probably not! And it’s kind of a — kind of the equivalent of when you’re applying for a new job and you have to give references? You only pick the two people who are gonna say nice things about you, right? Those are your testimonials. Those are your testimonials of saying “call these people, they will tell you how awesome I am.” But reviews on the other hand, they’re — they’re rating you. There is a scale. We have this on Facebook pages, people can give a score. And they’re indicative of not just the product, but of the service and quality of the provider. So I think that’s an important element as well, is that when someone is providing social proof — especially when there’s a lot of it and there’s an aggregate roll up of the score — an aggregate, two people could asked by the provider to say the two people, “say nice things.” But if there’s 50, or 100, or more — that’s social proof and aggregated evidence of quality, service, the product stability, the reputation of the provider. So I think that’s another element. We actually include a big section on social reviews as sort of an element of scored review, as well as commentary testimonial on our Sassy Direct platform. And what we’re starting to do now in our training services is quite literally ask for reviews so that in aggregate, there’s a lot of different voices that are providing perspective on our Suite products and services, because it’s one place to say, “here’s what people are saying.” And guess what guys — not all of it necessarily is 100% positive. But it’s important information for any future person to be able to make an objective decision of about about your business, and that’s okay. So let’s do a little recap as we’re going along here. We talked about case studies, we talked a little about testimonials, we moved into reviews, and then let’s do one more. Let’s talk about the really easy form of social proof is social media shout-outs. Kind of a version of an unsolicited testimonial, what I did a minute ago, where a customer gushes about your product and then tags you in the post. Like, ‘oh my gosh, I love this new outfit. Or makeup, or Pinterest improvement in my reach. Or– Oh my gosh.” We just — I just got one of those the other day, someone private messaged me and then, you know, I literally said, “would you mind posting that in one of our groups?” And she said, “oh my gosh, I would love to! Yes, I will.” And it’s a — it’s a shout out. She was saying, “I got this amazing, awesome improvement in my — or I love this product, or I love this service, and I’m gonna tell my friends about it.” That is huge social proof. It’s so valuable because we’re looking to other people for their endorsement and in a relationship-based business, we do business with people we — say it again, say it with me —
Windy: Know, Like, and Trust.
Brenda: Right! So how do we build that know, like, and trust? Social proof through the friends that we already know, like, and trust. So when I look at Windy, I know, like, and trust Windy, and Windy says, “I really recommend this other product.” And I’m like, “well, I know, like, and trust Windy and Windy knows, likes, and trusts this other product,” it’s sort of that — did everyone take Logic in college you know that, I don’t know, transactional nature of A plus B equals C, then if A equals B, B equals C, then A equals C?
Brenda: Kind of the same idea!
Windy: Exactly! Exactly!
Brenda: Transitive nature of, I don’t know, there’s some phrase there I took in 19–
Windy: Whoa, hey!
Brenda: I know, I got all fancy there for a minute. Like wait! Someone will, somebody will message us and be like, “Brenda, here’s what it is. It’s some particular theory of…” I took it in philosophy it had to do with logic.
Windy: Yeah, I know what you’re talking about.
Brenda: Yeah, but that’s in the same, same idea. I don’t have a relationship with the service provider, but my friend does. I know like and trust my friend and the trust is extended to the new service provider. That is social proof. So our challenge for everybody is to think about, what do we do with this? How are we layering this into our social plan? Are you layering it into your social plan? And it’s not just about your product or service, it’s also — for those of you who are in a more of a recruiting direct sales-based business, it’s also about your leadership credibility, it’s about your reputation and your communication style. All of that is socially provable. There’s people who will say things about it. So I think it’s really an important topic.
Windy: Yeah, absolutely! And you know, Brenda you sort of mentioned this when talking about people’s leadership and what other people are saying; but really something else to think about, too, is the idea that using the data or numbers that pertain to your business is also social proof. Like there’s a reason that McDonalds has billions of hamburger served on their sign. That’s social proof! How bad can they be if billions of them have been served?
Brenda: Right. Now I don’t know that McDonald’s needs as much social proof. They’re on every corner, and they’re on TV all the time, and everybody has had a hamburger — come on!
Windy: I know but do you — are you — Brenda, I know you are more like me, that you remember you know, once a year the McDonalds’ sign in your town in Wisconsin would change. From a million burgers sold 12 million. Now they just have billions and billions served.
Brenda: That’s right! That’s social proof, exactly! So if you are thinking about how we start to build social proof, it starts as basic as asking for references, referrals, testimonials, shout outs, and case studies. It’s a little bit of building that into your business and building that into your social content plan. So how do we get it, Windy, how do we how do we do it. How do we guide people on how to do it?
Windy: Wait, you mean they need it? They need it!?
Brenda: They need it!
Windy: Remember, going back to our restaurant example, no social proof can actually be damaging, right? If no one’s reviewed you. If you have no test, if you have nothing, that can actually be telling people, “hmm, I don’t know that I — that I wanna do business with her because nobody else is doing business with her.” So the easiest way to start is, to Brenda’s point, just ask for it.
Brenda: Ask for it!
Windy: I will tell you, I had asking for reviews and testimonials was part of my follow-up strategy, because you guys know how I feel about the follow-up, right?
Brenda: I would do no follow-up!
Windy: Follow up is my jam. I would ask every single customer for a review in my thank you notes: “if I provided you with good service, will you take 30 seconds to write a review for me?”
Brenda: And I will be the, I will be even so brazen as to say, I will lead the witness and when I do that exact ask, I will say, “would you please take 30 seconds and say nice things about me?”
Brenda: So, I’m okay leading the witness and saying, “will you be, would you be some kind as to basically provide some social proof and say nice things?” And that’s literally how I word a little bit sassy, a little bit cheeky. It goes with our branding, but it’s another way of saying, “would you mind saying something to someone else who might be stalking a little bit?“
Windy: Right! Right. To get those testimonials, to get those reviews, literally make it easy for them. Give them a link that they can just one-click and they go to it. So I think their review and make it easy for them, you know, don’t make it cumbersome because then nobody — nobody got time for that!
Brenda: Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Windy: So as we are asking, ask for the review–
Brenda: Literally, ask for the review, ask for the feedback. And we have a place where we provide a place to gather that feedback and gather those reviews. Our Sassy Direct platform actually includes the ability to collect reviews. So at our most basic level, a standard listing allows you to receive customer reviews. You don’t even need to have the full-blown out Featured or Premium. At the most basic level, and you have the ability to also approve and respond to each of the reviews. So that’s a really, really powerful feature that if someone says nice things, you can thank them for it. And if someone says something that might be constructive, you have a chance to respond and that also becomes part of public social proof in how you respond to your service. So we actually offer a, part of the Sassy Direct platform includes social reviews and being able to receive customer reviews. So I think it’s a really powerful part of your social strategy, because we have to remember that when people are out there wandering around the internet, looking– and especially when they’re evaluating new products or service providers — they’re sort of subconsciously looking for evidence that other people have done business with you first.
Windy: That’s right!
Brenda: And “I don’t wanna be first, I don’t know if you’re reputable.” We go to Angie’s List, we go to Yelp, we go to Google, we ask our friends. This is all social proof. And so, if you can start to solicit and foster a social proof it actually will help you versus relying on other people to simply say nice things, you can quite literally facilitate this piece of your social strategy by including a platform where you can receive reviews and facilitate that process. So, sassydirect.com! And our standard listing starts at only $5.00 a month. And it includes the ability to have customer reviews. And there’s a whole bunch of other benefits of Sassy Direct, including diversify your risk from Facebook, expanding your reach out to Google, being able to have a more robust public presence that’s SEO optimized. There’s a whole lot of other benefits, but minimally we’re talking about today is the ability to have those customer reviews the real big perk.
Brenda: So everybody, we wanna encourage you to think about this element of your social strategy. Are you using social proof? Are you actively asking for reviews, for feedback? Are you using other people’s experience with you, your business, your product, your service, your quality as a part of your social strategy in your content strategy. We include– yeah, go ahead.
Windy: Even shoutouts, you know, shoutouts can be huge; if one of your customers gives you a shoutout on Instagram, or on Facebook, and tags you in it — that can be a huge social proof too. And typically, when they’re doing that, even if it’s solicited, it’s not solicited in that moment. Like, you might say, “hey, if you love your outfit, tag me on Instagram”
Brenda: Yeah, absolutely.
Windy: And when someone sees that they don’t realize that they were encouraged to do that, they just see that they love it and tagged you in it.
Brenda: Exactly, which kind of then builds to a tiny little bit of influencer strategy and how we extend our reach through others endorsements.
Windy: That’s right!
Brenda: We do this all the time in the Suite and you know we are all about transparency, we wanna show how we do this business and when we ask for testimonials, or reviews, we also ask if we can then say, “hey Mary, you said this great thing about this particular boot camp we offered, would you mind if I put this on to a graphic and used it in public marketing?” More often than not, they’re gonna say, “oh please do, of course!” Because we’re gonna tag that person, thank them for their endorsement, and extend their reach through our public marketing. So there’s a lot of elements there of how we start to build relationships and, you know, extend reach through others, as well as help the social proof, that you know we’re building to know, like, and trust through other people’s endorsements of your business. So is a really important element of strategy. We want — we wanted to challenge you all to think about how you’re doing that, if you’re doing that. And as always, if you have ideas, or feedback, drop us a note email@example.com and we want to hear your ideas. In fact, if you wanna send us a little audio clip and tell us, we might even put you into our next podcast!
Brenda: And tell us about… I know! We wanna, we want to hear your voices, and your ideas, and your words. Because every time we ask them to do something like send us chicken jokes, or send us a right transitive property of a quality, or something. Someone will send me a message and be like, “Brenda here’s the thing. I took it–“
Windy: It was Waterboy! It was Waterboy!
Brenda: It was Waterboy, right! You can do it! I mean, those are the things that we know that like eight people listen to us every week. And these are the eight people who send us all the good jokes so — and somebody out there is probably a philosophy professor and has a PhD in Logic and will tell me what the proper theory is that I was incorrectly quoting. Alright guys. So hey, as always, thanks for tuning in to Social Marketing with Sassy Suite. If you are not yet over in the Socialite Suite on Facebook, it’s our free private training group for home-based businesses and solopreneurs. We do social tips, and social marketing ideas, and some occasional deep thoughts. We have some free weekly trainings, and we have a whole lot of community to help you rock your business. And we will see you here next time on the podcast! Bye guys!