Your social media accounts or business blog could potentially be a customer’s first exposure to your brand, so don’t neglect these platforms.

The concept of ‘social proof’ refers to the influence other people’s behaviours and actions have on our day-to-day decision-making processes, says Paul Ryan.

The founder of Kudosto believes his startup gives customers a forum where they can recognise the quality service provided by a business and their staff.

While we might act as individuals, we still don’t like the concept of acting alone and tend to look to others to guide our own actions, says Ryan. We like to know who is using a particular product or service and what their experience was like.

And when it comes to informing popular opinions, the internet plays a powerful role in shaping and directing consumers’ purchasing decisions.

With a 2013 Nielsen Survey revealing that 68% of people trust other people’s opinions posted online, Ryan believes even the most well-honed sales pitch might go unheard if a business fails to deliver the right messages with social proof as a guiding influence.

Create a social experience on your website

“All businesses need to embrace the social experience, especially for their website,” says Ryan, who believes an active presence across a range of relevant platforms should be a key part of a business’s strategy.

“As a consumer we want to know as much as we can about a product or service as quickly as possible… Having a website that allows for testimonials, links to independent review sites and links to your social mediums, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+, can all provide a consumer with a greater insight into your business.”

Most customers already have an idea of what they’re looking for, but social proof can increase your appeal by leveraging existing support to bolster your reputation and inspire action.

Embrace and respond to testimonials

Increasingly, businesses are noting the impact that a negative or positive review can have on a business.

“A business owner should be as proactive as possible to link the independent positive feedback through their website and social media networks,” says Ryan.

Positive reviews can be very powerful for a business, and can become even more valuable if they are sourced independently of a business’ own website. Seeing others go through a positive experience with your company can be the push many buyers need to make that final purchase decision, explains Ryan.

“A 2015 Kudosto survey with 1200 respondents confirmed that 15% of consumers would not visit or interact with a business if there was one negative review – even if the review was surrounded by a sea of positivity.”

This means three out of every 20 potential customers are lost because of one negative review. If you do receive a negative review don’t ignore it – instead, the way you respond to online criticism can not only remedy the short-term situation, but also attract positive publicity in the long-term.

Drive business with social media

Your social media accounts or business blog could potentially be a customer’s first exposure to your brand, so don’t neglect these platforms.

There are many ways to grow your social media audience – for example, regularly uploading new blog posts, including recent testimonials on your website and starting Twitter conversations or joining the discussion on trending topics.

It might not drive immediate business through the door but will play a very important part of the process of increasing activity, and therefore the credibility of your site, Ryan says.

“If you aren’t prepared to sell yourself or provide information to educate the consumers, why would they make a decision to buy from you?”

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