11 NOVEMBER 2018 / INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

Using people power to boost your business

Since the time we lived in caves, we’ve always been social creatures.

In fact, being social was our only way to survive. How else were we going to know when there was a predator stalking the area, or not to eat those delicious looking but highly poisonous berries?

Fast forward a few hundred thousand years, and these social habits are still with us.

One of these habits that can be used to gain business advantage is called Social Proofing.

What is social proofing?

This is when we look around us to see what others are doing and copy them when we’re in a situation that we are not sure of. It helps us to understand how best to act, think and feel and therefore feel more comfortable in a situation.

For a bricks and mortar business like yours, there are many ways you can use social proofing to your advantage, getting more people in the door and more bums on seats.

And the best part is that they don’t need a huge marketing budget for you to be able to put them in place effectively.

User ratings and reviews

There is a reason Tripadvisor is the holy bible for travellers – it allows them to quickly gain an idea of what sort of experience they will receive by having had it reviewed already by their peers.

A user rating is a quick shortcut we use to determine whether something is worth buying or whether a business is worth our time.

A 2017 study by Brightlocal found that 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business, so it really is worth your time to get a good strategy in place to get your customers to tell others just how much they loved the experience they received when in your premises.

Closely linked to a user rating then is the customer review. A longer way of users being able to share their experiences in an effort to educate others. And reviews really work. Here are another two stats from the BrightLocal survey:

  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more These show just how efficient getting a good online feedback plan in place is.

Social Media

Using social media as a peer to peer marketing strategy is highly effective, as having more followers will not only mean you can talk to wider audience – but it shows people that you are a business and brand that people like, and trust.

It also again gives you a great space to showcase your personality a bit more, you can use these platforms to engage and educate your customers in real time.

Press coverage

You may not think this is so relevant these days – but using the press or media is a great way to set yourself out from your competition, especially if you are working in a more saturated market.

An interview, whether on TV, on the radio, in press or online will help to humanise your brand. It allows you to tell your business story and gives others a feeling of empathy towards you and your business.

It also ticks that social proof box just by just existing. A potential customer will see it and automatically assume your business is good because it’s been verified by the media outlet who published your words.

Certifications

Getting a certification from an organisation not only gives you a stamp of approval but can also help you to land your brand positioning better.

Have a think about what matters to you as a brand and look to get certifications from organisations that hold the same values.

For example, if you are a vegan café – having a certification from the Vegan Society will quickly let people know what you stand for and attract the audience you want.

Showing your venue is busy

Lastly, we’ll talk about the old classic – seeing that your business is busy means more people are likely to come in a see what you’ve got going on for themselves

Going into an empty shop or café is a daunting prospect for most of us. We feel under the spotlight and uncomfortable, even if it’s mainly subconscious. On the flip-side, when we see a crowd waiting around to get something or get in somewhere it immediately peaks our interest.

A brand that has used this tactic incredibly well to elevate their brand is Apple.

Every release they have there are countless stories about the huge lines of people waiting outside their store to get the latest gadgets. Given we live in the days of pre-ordering and free delivery – the fact that time after time they can get us so worked up about a product is a testament to how well their social proofing strategy has been thought out and executed.

The key to being able to use all the above tactics effectively is authenticity. It may be tempting to look at how you can generate favourable reviews or quickly buy more followers – but this doesn’t work in the long term.

People have to trust you, and to do that you need to let them share their true, honest experience. Opening yourself up to reviews and ratings can seem daunting – but, even a bad review that is handled correctly can become a social proof for your business. It gives you a second chance to change a customer’s perception and therefore experience of your business and it shows others how much you care about getting it right for your customers.

Let your customers talk – and be there to listen when it’s needed.