What Exactly Is Social Proof And How Do Bloggers Use it

image - Numbers MatterMost bloggers that value exposure want to make it as easy as possible for their readers to share the blog’s content on social media sites. Thanks to a host of WordPress plugins and code, it’s also a simple matter to include the power of social proof in those social share buttons, newsletter & feed subscriptions and blog comments. This post will explore several ways to show your social influence but, in the end, it will be your decision on what and how much you display on your blog.

First, what is Social Proof?

So you’re standing in the park and you see a jogger trip and fall. He’s okay but, you can’t help it, it looked really funny. You’re standing in a crowd; do you laugh? A lot of people would look around to see what the crowd is doing to see if they should laugh of not. That is social proof.

The crowd can determine the actions of the individual with this third-party validation we call social proof. ~ Brian D. Hawkins (Soon to be famous quote lol)

So how does social proof play into blogging?

You read a great post on a new blog you just found; should you comment? Are there other comments? That’s what a lot of bloggers look for – that social proof. Many people will comment on a blog that already gets interaction from other readers. That social proof shows several things, including authority and activity. Many readers that may decide to comment want to know others will see the comment, not just the blog admin. Numbers DO count!

image - Social proof - example 1

It’s not ALL about Social Media

I do think it’s important that I clarify something at this point. There seems to be a misconception among many bloggers that the “social” in Social Proof means social media. I doesn’t, not really. We can show social proof with our social media stats, among other things, but social proof has to do with the influence that’s driven by the actions of others. This can be shown in a very wide range of situations, not just social media – as you will see below. Of course, we’ll be looking at social proof from a blogger’s perspective.

One example might be car traffic in an unusual situation. A road closes or a tricky detour appears and everyone just follows the crowd. Marketers are VERY familiar with numbers and the social influence they can have. Probably the most well known social proof example is McDonald’s “billions sold” marketing message. Of course you like it, because everyone does.

Feed and newsletter subscriptions

The same holds true with list/feed subscriptions and social sharing. The more “social proof” a post shows, the more likely others will act. Obviously, this isn’t true with everyone but the concept is solid.

image - Social proof - example 2

Showing your social clout

Social Share Buttons
image - Mobile social share buttons There are several WordPress plugins that will help bloggers add social share buttons to their posts. Personally, I like Twitter Facebook Google Plus One Social Share because it works on mobile devices.

Social Widgets

Many bloggers display social proof in with Facebook and Twitter widgets. Similar to the social sharing buttons, these widgets have a dual purpose; allow readers to easily follow your brand on the social networks AND to display your social influence.

Newsletter Subscriber Stats
I use and recommend AWeber($) as an autoresponder and newsletter delivery service. AWeber provides a nice Subscriber Count Chicklet that shows the exact number of active subscribers you have on any given day. The counter chicklet self-updates daily so there’s nothing to worry about once it’s added.

RSS Feed Subscription Stats
I also use and recommend FeedBlitz($). FeedBlitz also has it’s own self-updating chicklet you can add to your blog to help increase your number of feed subscribers.

Google PageRank And Alexa Rank
image - Google PageRank and Alexa Rank buttonsNow we’re getting into less important social proof to display, especially with Klout scores, but they’re still important enough to discuss. It is, of course, possible to see page rank and other stats with various browser plugins/extensions and toolbars but don’t assume everyone knows or bothers with these tools.

Depending on your niche, most readers probably won’t see your page rankings unless they see it on your blog. With that said, in most niches, these numbers may not mean much to the reader anyway.

Klout and Other Scores
image - Klout Score 79Okay, I already know that I’m going to get the “I hate Klout” comments, along with the anti-Alexa and anti-PageRank clan, but I stick to what I’ve always said, Numbers do Count! Here’s the truth that needs to be said…

It doesn’t matter what you or I personally think about numbers, scores or rank; it doesn’t matter how accurate or unfair they are; what matters is how the masses perceive it. Nuff said!

Klout and page rank aren’t something most bloggers will need to include on their blogs, depending on their niche and message. For example, my friend Carly Alyssa Thorne shows her impressive Klout score on her blog. Carly teaches influence and runs the Kickin’ it with Klout Facebook group so it makes all of the sense in the world to include her Klout score as part of her social proof strategy.

Third party social stat tools

image - Social share results from LinkTally

There are third party tools you can use to determine the number of times a post or page have been shared on various social sites, whether your own or someone else’s website or blog. I’m sure there are others but two that I’ve come across are LinkTally.com and SocialCounterPro.com. Either of these free online social stat tools will give you the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for any page you submit.

Fake Twitter Followers Test

Are you interested in how many of your Twitter followers are real people? REAL followers are important (see the next paragraph). Again, there are probably others but I’ll list two options: StatusPeople and SocialBakers. It’s not an exact science but it’s interesting to see the results.

image - Fake Twitter Followers Test

Important – don’t cheat

This post is meant to show you ways of leveraging your influence and hard work to encourage others to either act on your behalf, (such as liking, sharing, tweeting, etc.) or trust and understand your good reputation (such as subscribing or following your affiliate links).

One of the worst things you can do, and we see it daily, is cheat by showing fake numbers or taking dangerous shortcuts to obtain the desired numbers. Remember, your reputation is at risk and without that, you reduce your influence and limit your opportunity for profit. Never buy things like Twitter followers, Facebook likes or blog comments; no matter how tempting it may be.

One final note

Numbers go up and down and, at the end of the day, they are just numbers. Be careful not to obsess over numbers and statistics; they’ll drive you crazy and take away from the truly important tasks of a blogger – writing great content and building true relationships with our readers.

Now, give me some luv…

Wow, that was a lot of writing! lol Now it’s your turn, if you don’t mind. I’d love to see your comments, ideas or questions on social proof, what works, what doesn’t and what’s important to you. We LOVE your comments – not only because it adds to our social proof, but because we love the interaction. ;)

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