The Power of Positive Social Proof

Why Is Positive Social Proof Important?

You’re walking down a busy city street and turn the corner only to see a small crowd of people all looking up in the air, at a point across and above the street. What are the odds you’ll be able to stop yourself before looking up to see what they’re all staring it? I know for me, it’s almost impossible…and I’ve tried!

Similarly, in movies and TV shows, it’s easier to laugh along when we hear the show’s laugh-track. I once watched a funny old movie with no laugh-track, and the child I was watching with didn’t know what was funny. We take our cues from others.

It’s the same online. One of the main reasons that people make a choice is because they have “social proof” that others have done so before. It’s a strong motivator.

 

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard

 

Whether you are a business, a blogger, or an individual with career aspirations, you should be harnessing the power of positive social proof. The concept is not a new one, but its importance continues to grow both for businesses and individuals.

Wikipedia defines it this way: “Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”

Dr. Robert Cialdini’s famous work on persuasion called this phenomenon out as a particularly effective marketing tactic. His book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a must-read classic.

We tend to adopt as correct the behavior of others around us.

 

“Leadership is an action, not a position.” –Donald McGannon

 

Positive social proof:

 

Helps you stand out. Competition isn’t slowing down, isn’t letting up, and isn’t taking a break. If you want your business to get noticed, then social proof is one way to do it. With more sources competing for our attention every day, it’s vital to differentiate your offering from everything else.

Improves your success metrics. Studies show that we are more likely to share something that others are also sharing. We watch what we see others are watching. Visit a new town and you see two restaurants side-by-side. One has an empty lot and the other has a line wrapped around the block. Which one appeals to you?

Builds credibility. Unless you are already an established expert, a bestselling author, or a of host a worldwide talk show, it helps to build credibility. In Nashville, I see many up and coming music artists using quotes from famous musicians. Authors routinely ask for endorsements for book jacket quotes. Businesses include testimonials from others. All of these are ways to differentiate and add credibility.

 

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” –Vince Lombardi

 

YOU Need Social Proof

Some of you may say, “Sure, I can see that building social proof matters for a business. But it’s not something I need to think about.”

Think again.

If you want to increase your chances of promotion, see higher raises, or reduce your chances of getting let go from your organization, you should use some elements of social proof. Do you have a marketing plan for YOU? Today, you must promote yourself.

You don’t need to blatantly self-promote. No one likes an egotistical, self-centered know-it-all. But, if I want the boss to choose me for a new project, how do I keep my name out there? How do I stand out? It may not be a blog, but it may be that you wrote an article in your company newsletter or an industry publication. It may be that you are speaking at a customer event. And there is nothing better than the word of mouth social proof because you delivered a key project or pitched in to help when it wasn’t even your responsibility. When your colleagues are buzzing about your performance, that is the best social proof possible. There are many ways to build your social proof as an individual.

 

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” –Mother Teresa

 

Your Website Benefits From Social Proof

Recently, one marketer sent me a list of the ways I have used positive social proof on this blog. Here is what she shared (with my explanation).

Shares. On the top of each post, you can see the number of shares. Here’s where I ran into a problem last week. Because I have preferred Twitter to other social media, my Twitter shares are higher than others like LinkedIn or Facebook. Recently, Twitter made a strange, surprising, and I think wrong move by removing counts from everyone’s websites. That turns some posts that were shared by the thousands to showing nothing overnight. Why they did this is answered in a strange post, but I still don’t quite understand it. And, for the record, it alienated a large community of content creators who are now rethinking strategies for Facebook and LinkedIn over Twitter.

 

Does it matter? Adele recently smashed records with the release of 25, becoming the best-selling album in the US of any single week. Large numbers create even more numbers. What would have happened if just as her sales took off Nielsen made a decision like Twitter and just zeroed out the sales?

 

“A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.” –Cullen Hightower

 

Awards. These are listed on the right side. I haven’t included all of the kind awards, but I did include many of them. They are a form of social proof.

7 Lessons on Giving from Jimmy Wayne

 

Walk to Beautiful

One of the most moving and true stories I have ever read is Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who  Found the Way, the story of Jimmy Wayne.  Jimmy is a country music singer-songwriter whose songs have topped the charts.  His song “Do You Believe Me Now?” was played over 100,000,000 times on the radio earning him the millionaire award. He is also now a NYT bestselling author and has a movie based on his book Paper Angels.  With all that success, he still identifies himself more as a foster kid who faced numerous challenges growing up in a difficult system.

Recently, I was visiting Nashville and met Jimmy at an event to raise money for the Salvation Army.

 

Saved By Love

Do you know how this country music star got his first guitar?  If you have participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program, you will have the answer. That anonymous gift was the beginning of a musical journey.  Each year children in need fill out angel tags containing gift wishes and place them on a tree.  Jimmy received his first guitar through this program.  You can make a dream come true by helping others through the Salvation Army’s program.

After reading his compelling story and speaking with him, I thought about 7 lessons Jimmy Wayne taught me about giving and sharing.

Jimmy taught me to:

 

1. Give the gift of encouragement.

As a homeless teenager, Jimmy befriended an elderly couple, who took him in. When he speaks of this couple, and the words of love and appreciation they expressed to him, you will be reminded of the power of encouragement.  Contrast that to the words spoken by a prison guard; words that, to this day, still seem to haunt him.

Use every opportunity to encourage others with words of love and appreciation.

 

2.  Give with no expectation.

So often we give and expect something back.  True givers experience the joy of giving with no expectation.  Anything given with an expectation is not really a gift.

“Anything given with an expectation is not really a gift.” -Skip Prichard

 

3.  Give of yourself.

Bea Costner opened her home to Jimmy, gave of her time, her talent, and her love. She demonstrated the power of giving is when it comes from the heart with nothing held back.

“The power of giving is when it comes from the heart and nothing is held back.”

 

4.  Give your unique giftedness.

Jon Gordon Shares The Greatest Success Strategies of All

 

When I pick up one of Jon Gordon’s books, I have high expectations.  I expect to be entertained, moved, and motivated to think differently and take action.  That’s not an easy accomplishment for any book.

 

“Your optimism today will determine your level of success tomorrow.” –Jon Gordon


His latest book, The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All, exceeded my already high expectations.  Jon once again narrates a story in such a way that it:

  • Reminds me of timeless principles
  • Zeroes in on something I need to work on
  • Inspires me to become a better leader

I recently had the opportunity to ask Jon a few questions about his work.

 

“Negative thoughts are the nails that build a prison of failure.” –Jon Gordon

 

The 3 Greatest Success Strategies

 

Jon,The Carpenter’s subtitle is A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All.  Let’s talk about a few of these strategies.

The 3 greatest of them all are:The Carpenter by Jon Gordon

1. Love

2. Serve

3. Care

I go into more detail in the book of why they are so powerful, but after studying the most successful people and organizations, I found they truly loved the work they did, and they did everything with love instead of fear.  The love they had for their product, people and passion was greater than their fear of failing.  They loved their work so much that they overcome their challenges to build something great.  They loved their people, so they invested in them and helped them achieve great results.  They also cared about everyone and everything.  They put in a little more time with a little more energy with a little more effort with a little more focus, and this produced big results.  They also served and sacrificed.

Only through service and sacrifice can you become great. When you serve others, you become great in their eyes.  We know when someone is out for themselves and when they are here to serve others. You can’t be a great leader if all you are serving is yourself.

 

“Only through service and sacrifice can you become great.” –Jon Gordon

 

The Importance of Rest

You talk about the importance of rest.  Most of us are so busy achieving, setting goals, and driving that we have learned to smile and nod in response to hearing “get some more rest.”  My subconscious often responds with, “I will rest when I’m dead.”  Why is rest so important?  What made you decide to start with it as a success strategy? 

I’ve noticed that the enemies of great leadership, teamwork, relationships and customer service are busyness and stress.  Our lives have become so crazy that we are continually activating the reptilian part of our brain and the fight-flight response.  So without knowing it, we are living and working from a place of fear where we are just trying to survive instead of thrive.

When we rest and recharge, we can think more clearly and live and work more powerfully.  For example, instead of running people over because you are so busy, you can take time to build relationships with your team and customers and create more success in the long term.  Instead of just trying to get through the day, you can live and work more intentionally thinking about who needs your time and energy to develop and grow.  Instead of rushing through conversations with customers, you can take more time to listen and solve their problems.  Every great athlete must rest and recharge and so must we to perform at our highest level.

Bestselling Author Jon Gordon

 

“Anyone who attempts to build great things will face challenges.” –Jon Gordon

 

How Gratitude and Love Make The Difference