Posts Tagged ‘Social Proof’

Testimonials: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

February 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Nothing supercharges lead generation and sales quite like social proof. One study published in the Wall Street Journal noted that social proof was more influential in changing behavior than the prospect of saving money.

Content Marketing Leaders Spill on Using Testimonials Effectively

Tim Paige of produces a fascinating podcast about digital marketing effectiveness called Conversion Cast. Earlier this month, he interviewed the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, Andy Crestodina. The subject of the episode was testimonials. Andy talked about a small business case study where the proper implementation of testimonials resulted in a 97% boost in leads.

Tim Paige, Producer of Conversion Cast

First, the wrong way (and what everybody tends to screw up). Whatever you do, do not put your testimonials on a dedicated testimonials page. It’s tantamount to hiding your best credibility indicators in a section of the site where no one ever visits. Think about it: when was the last time you ever clicked on a testimonials page?

Testimonials belong on the main pages of your site (products, about us, etc.). They should be woven into the content. As Crestodina puts it, they should be “pixels away from the claims” they justify.

Think about testimonials as the sources that you’re citing to back up your claims, like footnotes. Except that you don’t want to put them at the bottom. Better to place them along the side of the page, as well as in-line (block quotes), and also at the bottom. Just so long as they are visually tied the the claims that they back up.

Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media

Crestodina also makes a point that you want to use a variety of formats. He refers to video testimonials in particular as the “atomic bomb of marketing.” They convey passion and sincerity through body language and inflection. So don’t simply settle for a bland quotation or a logo array.

KissMetrics Schools Us On the Psychology of Social Proof

In a blog article on social proof, KissMetrics offers some fascinating wisdom on implementing testimonials and social proof.

First, and maybe most interesting, testimonials can backfire if they’re phrased in a way that suggests that many people are doing something incorrectly. We refer to this as negative social proof. They site the example of the signage used in the Arizona Petrified Forest to reduce theft. Here’s what happened, in their own words:

Their findings were shocking. The sign with the negative social proof was not only unable to reduce theft, it actually increased the likelihood that people would steal the petrified wood from the forest! In this case, the sign read:

“Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, destroying the natural state of the Petrified Forest.”

The researchers found that this sort of sign encouraged more stealing (it tripled the amount of theft) because it was evidence that many other people were already stealing from the forest. Instead of discouraging people, it made them more confident that stealing was “okay.”

In our case, an example of a testimonial that would case the same problem would read like this:

“Like so many others, I have been writing testimonials incorrectly for years until I read this article.” –John Q. Wrongness

Here are some KissMetrics pointers for getting the most out of your social proof (testimonials in our case):

1. Include pictures next to your quotations.

This is based on a recent study published in the Psychonometric Bulletin and Review stating that pictures next to examples of social proof tend to inflate the subjective measure of truth.

2. Include testimonials from people who demographically match your buyer personas.

More research, this time from Current Directions is Psychological Science, that shows people tend to gravitate to, and be influenced by, people similar to themselves (duh).

3. Go for status.

All things being equal, we will tend to value the opinions of the more notable and influential people. Titles matter. The words of recognized industry leaders matter. So concentrate your efforts on gathering some marquee testimonials.


Making Difficult Things Look Effortless

August 27, 2010 4 comments

Historians have finally identified the inventor of “cool.” Back, way back before the Fonz, before James Dean or Brando, before Clark Gable, almost before Columbus even landed, there was the originator of cool: Baldassare Castiglione.

How can you not be cool with a name that rolls off the tongue like that?

Back in the days of the Italian courts of the early Renaissance, writers and artists were rediscovering the Aristotelian notion of the ideal form. When you set about creating something, you aspired to make it as close to the theoretical ideal form as you possibly could. In this way, you could approach perfection.

Baldassare Castiglione, The Originator of Cool – Can’t you tell just by looking at him?

Right about the same time Machiavelli published his work on the ideal form of a ruler, our friend Baldassare published The Book of the Courtier. In it, he laid out the ideal for the new Renaissance Man – the man who could master many diverse talents and areas of expertise. We get the modern idea of the Renaissance Man from Castiglione’s work, just as much as we do from examples of the famous polymaths of the day: Leonardo da Vinci, Leone Battista Alberti, Matteo Ricci and others.

Castiglione thought that it was improper for gentlemen to refine all these talents only to show off at court, and become immodest scene-stealers. In the time of Machiavelli and palace intrigue, influence itself became the coin of the realm. If you were a gentleman of the court, and you wanted to do the most good, you had to influence the royalty to act in virtuous ways. Talent and refinement were useless if they kept you from holding sway over the actions of the court.

So Castiglione coined the term sprezzatura. There is no direct translation, but now we would call it “coolness,” “smoothness,” “intrigue,” or “nonchalance.” The idea behind sprezzatura is that when you exercise your talent in any way – in their case things like poetry, recitation, classical mastery, sports, intellectual gaming, etc. – you do it without any affectation or pretense. You don’t call attention to the effort you put into it and don’t come across as showing off. Read more…

The Six Weapons of Influence – Part 3: “Social Proof”

June 1, 2010 9 comments

So far in this six-part article, we’ve covered two of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six “weapons of influence”Reciprocity and Commitment/Consistency. Time to move forward with the next weapon, which is incredibly useful, especially in marketing and advertising…

Weapon number three: “Social Proof : Is there really strength in numbers?”

Social Proof is why network sitcoms still use laugh-tracks, even though everyone thinks they’re lame and outdated. Social Proof is also the reason people like to take pictures of themselves having fun with their attractive friends, and use those as social network profile pictures.

We understand Social Proof as the tendency for people to take their behavioral cues from the group of people around them, especially in situations where the correct behavior might not be obvious or where we particularly identify with the group of people we’re with.

When fleeing a Tyrannosaurus, sometimes it's best to stay with the pack...

It’s fairly easy to see how the idea of Social Proof may have evolved. If we accept the notion from evolutionary biology that early humans lived in clans of a couple hundred people, then we can envision situations when you survived by unhesitatingly following the herd, in the absence of better information. Even if the herd was not correct about which way to dart to avoid the predator, you would make a more attractive target on your own as opposed to keeping with the herd.

Read more…

Social Validation and the Drive for Success

May 11, 2010 2 comments

Just a quick post this time. I wanted to call attention to some insight that I read on a blog called The Psychology of Success, hosted by Dr. Bakari Akil II. In one of his recent posts, he notes the psychological force of social validation, and how it can act as a motivational force for success.

Akil references the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini, who wrote a very famous book called Influence. Cialdini identifies six “weapons” of influence that people leverage upon one another in order to get what they want. One of the weapons he identifies is the concept of Social Proof…the idea that something is desirable and worth more simply because it is desired by many others.

Read more…