Social Proof might sound like a new thing but in fact it’s been around for a while, we just didn’t have a name for it. People are followers. It’s a fact. Not that many of us don’t think for ourselves lots of times, but we are a social bunch and we care what others are doing.
Image Credit: Free Digital Photos
What IS Social Proof?
Social Proof describes the phenomenon where people observe what other people are doing and do the same thing because they figure it must be the right thing to do if so many others are doing it. It is the reasoning behind lots of things in life, long before we had the internet. Social proof is why you hear canned laughter on sitcoms (because people find the shows more funny if they hear others laughing) and testimonials on TV shows.
Social Proof and Blogs
It is also displayed on the internet in many ways. Websites that allow users to leave reviews (Amazon, Yelp, GoodReads etc) for example. If a blog reader sees a post with comments, they might be more likely to comment. If they see a post has been shared via social media more than a few times, they are more likely to share it. It makes sense if you think about it. If we see others have found it interesting enough to comment or share, than it’s probably interesting enough for us to pay attention to it. Plus if there are already comments, we may find someone who commented something we agree with and we can add to that. If there are no comments, sometimes we aren’t sure how to say what we want so we just give up.
Social proof is why social media sites like Facebook show you which of your friends like a page when they ask if you want to like it. We are more likely to do what a group does but even MORE so if people we know are doing it.
People take notice when they go to a blog that lists that is has thousands of readers or newsletter subscribers or go to a Facebook page with thousands of fans or a twitter account with thousands of followers. We figure if many others find it interesting, we might find it interesting. So showing good follower numbers is a good thing. If your numbers are not good yet, work on them. They don’t have to be in the thousands but you don’t want to show that you have 5 RSS feed readers and 10 newsletter subscribers. My suggestion (and this is 100% my suggestion only) is that you want your numbers above 100 at LEAST before you display them on your blog for social proof, otherwise you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Used With Permission from menuofmusings.com
Increasing Blog Interaction
You need to make sure that your blog posts are getting at least some comments/shares to help others see that the content is worthwhile for them to read, comment or share. This is where it’s important to have a blogging buddy group or network of bloggers who help each other out. Whether it’s a group on Facebook or Google+ or you communicate via email or some other way, having a group of bloggers who will comment and share your posts is the best way to get your numbers up from the dreaded zero. If you are swapping comments with other bloggers, make sure that all of you are actually reading the posts and commenting thoughtfully. A bunch of short, generic comments such as “nice post” really don’t spark conversation and inspire others to comment.
I highly suggest using Filament (you might know it as Flare) for a social sharing plugin for WordPress users as it shows the count for the # of shares your post has received and gives a total count too.
Don’t have a group? Ask a blogging friend where they go to swap blog promo and see if you can join. If you don’t like the first group you try, try another, they are all different.
Increasing Social Media Interaction
In the same way that comments/social shares on your blog help increase the chances that others will do the same, so does likes/comments/reshares etc on your social media accounts. There are many groups that help with this too. You could even create a group of bloggers you know well and agree to regularly share new posts from each others blogs. Tell your mom that when she pops on your blog to see what’s new, you would really appreciate it if she could click a share button every now and again.
These are just some of the ways you can leverage social proof for your blog.