This is a guest post by Kyle H. David.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re influenced by peer pressure every single day. That restaurant you stopped at for lunch? Chances are your friend mentioned it, or you saw a good Yelp review for it. That phone case you bought off Amazon? You definitely didn’t order it without looking at the reviews first.
Ratings, reviews, and social media shares have a big impact on whether or not we do something. They dictate whether we buy that shirt, make that reservation, or see that movie. We trust our peers. They’re what New York Times reporter Erica Reischer calls “experience surrogates.” If someone similar to us likes something, then wouldn’t we like that same thing too?
So it goes without saying that, if you own a business, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t prominently and transparently display customer feedback, what’s also known as “social proof,” on your website.Testimonials, Facebook reviews, or starred ratings all showcase a transparent commitment to the customer experience and a willingness to actually listen to your customers’ words and feedback.
Social proof is the perfect way to say “we hear you and we’re listening.” Every business should utilize social proof on their site, but there are a few mistakes you can make that will severely discredit your efforts.
1. Displaying Only Positive Social Proof
No one is perfect. Very rarely (if ever) will you see an Amazon product or a Yelp review with a perfect five stars. If you edit reviews or filter them to only show the five star ratings, your users will be left with the “too-good-to-be-true” feeling and will be less inclined to trust you or your brand.
In fact, research shows that shoppers are more likely to make a purchase if they see at least a few negative reviews scattered about. On my company’s own feedback page, we visibly show unsatisfied reviews. It shows we’re human and also holds us accountable for our actions and mistakes.
2. Not Showing Photos
The key to social proof or an influential “experience surrogate” is a real person. If you don’t show photos next to testimonials, your users are more likely to believe the testimonial came from a fake client, even if he or she is very real. Put a face to words. Show that a real person is using your product, not the subject of a stock photo.
Along with photos, images of logos also go a long way. If any of your clients are well-known businesses, organizations, or institutions, showcase their logos on your site. However, if they’re not, it’s best to leave unfamiliar logos off your webpages. Logos should be be recognizable to your audience.
3. Low Social Proof
When it comes to social proof, you can’t forget about social media. Chances are your business already has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. But as helpful as a social media presence can be, it can also be harmful if not used correctly. From too many hashtags and spelling mistakes to irregular posts or no posts at all—all can damage your social reputation.
But there’s also another lesson you want to keep in mind: sometimes no social proof is better than low social proof. If you have social sharing features on your blog posts, press releases, or landing pages, and there’s a huge 0 next to them, it’s probably better to eliminate the button and counter altogether. People are less likely to trust or even read your content if they see that others haven’t found value in it.
It’s important to remember that social proof, like anything else in your business, takes time, care, and consideration. It involves more than just integrating a widget with a landing page, pulling a five-star review from Yelp, or throwing together a Facebook profile. Do any of that and you’ll hurt the trust customers place in you, not build it. However, if you are open, honest, and transparent, you’ll emit the trust your customers expect and be well on your way to delivering a flawless customer experience every time.
Author Bio: Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.