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How to determine and use your most powerful Social Proofs

For more than 30 years salespeople and marketers have been drawing lessons from The 6 Principles of Influence by Robert Cialdini. This 1984 book revolves around the factors that influence people’s decisions, the simple but powerful motivators that make people say “Yes”.

In this article we’re going to look at how you can use Cialdini’s third principle, Social Proof, to improve the perception of your service using a more effective proof than any you could provide yourself.

The take-away

Anything that proves that others see more value than risk in working with us can be a part of our Social Proof. Make sure you know what your most powerful Social Proofs are, that you are actively working to make them visible and that you’re managing your public reputation among current and potential clients.

What’s more powerful than a good reason?

“Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.” – Robert Cialdini

You would think that in order to get someone to do something, you would have to provide a good reason. And yet when we see a restaurant full people, we don’t need to know the reason each person chose to eat there to imagine that we should too.

In a survey with over 29 000 responders in 58 countries, 77 percent of people said that word-of-mouth advice from family and friends is the most persuasive source of new product information. The fact that other people made a particular decision is compelling to us because, for whatever reason, they took the same risk that we are considering taking.

So how can we apply this to the work of a South African real estate agent?

It’s not what you know.

Let’s start with some good news. You already have the most compelling social proof available to you: your supporters. You just need to promote them.

A good place to start is to consider everyone - clients, colleagues, mentors, industry professionals, employers - who would be able to speak to the value of your service. We tend to narrow our idea of social proof to client testimonials, but anything that proves that others see more value than risk in working with us can be a part of our social proof.

Once you have an idea of the people who would be able to speak to your value, you need to turn their belief into something visible to your prospects. Here are some ways to do this:

  1. Ask these individuals what impresses them about you and your service.
  2. Ask your clients about the most valuable contributions you’ve made to their lives. This is a broad question but will reveal precisely what has made a great impression in the past.
  3. Once you have an idea of your qualities and the value that has made the strongest impression on others, add to this list what you know about yourself; your achievements, your best results and anything that shows that people have gotten value out of your service.
  4. Now that you have all this information, you should have a sense of your most powerful Social Proofs! Now it’s time to make them visible. Use these points in meetings and in conversation; add them to your testimonials, newsletters, employee profile, website or Facebook page; ask your supporters to mention you when a need arises for your skills.

Manage and add to your Social Proof

You’ve determined your most powerful Social Proofs and made them visible - now you need to manage and add to them. Here are some strategies that you can implement to manage your reputation and add to the Social Proof you already have.

  • Social proof also goes the other way; excessive negative customer reviews in Google Search results can result in a loss of up to 70% of potential customers. Conduct regular surveys with clients to determine what would stop them from referring or recommending you to others. This can also be an opportunity to address the grievances your current clients have, potentially turning them into your vocal supporters.
  • Start looking at everyone who has seen value in your service as potential ambassadors. At settlement, leave cards asking for a referral to friends and family. Include this request on business cards and in conversation. Let your colleagues know that you would appreciate a referral if they come across a prospect that you would be able to assist.
  • Align yourself with a reputable peer. Dual listings are only one way for you to benefit from the reputation or Social Proof of a colleague. Helping a colleague where you can, supporting other agents or giving useful professional advice is a great way to turn the professionals around you into Ambassadors. Find out more about how to use reciprocity to attract more business.

Element 3: Facebook

The easiest, cheapest and most accessible way for you to showcase the value you have provided others is through Facebook. Using your own profile or a personal page to showcase your successes, your positive reviews and career achievements allows you to make this information accessible to much of South Africa at potentially no cost.

Make sure the page or profile you’re using professionally has the following elements.

  1. A high-quality photo, personal description and career summary. Internet users have come to associate the quality of content – pictures quality, web design etc – with the quality of the service being advertised. This is your new first impression. Make sure it’s a good one.
  2. Remember the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of your content should be customer-focused, and 20 percent should centre on you as a professional. This a great way to avoid spamming potential clients while making sure you’re marketing yourself. A good general Facebook strategy is to focus on providing high-value, customer-focused content and peppering this with your strongest Social Proofs
  3. Facebook isn’t a billboard. It’s social network. If your page is working the way it should, you’ll be receiving questions, comments and messages. Responding to these messages, curating conversations and engaging with others is very much part of using Facebook to it’s fullest potential. Dedicate some time to this each day.

Find out how to build sincere and genuine professional relationships with prospects and clients.

In Summary

  1. Get an idea of the people who would be able to speak to your value – clients, colleagues, employers - and use them to determine your most powerful Social Proofs.
  2. Start making these Proofs as visible and active as you can. Use these points in meetings, in conversation and add them to your testimonials, newsletters, employee profile, website or Facebook page. Ask your supporters to mention you when a need arises for your skills or value. Leave cards asking for a referral to friends and family. Align yourself with a reputable peer.
  3. Make sure your Facebook content is high-quality. Make sure you are providing valuable customer-focused content, regularly sharing your strongest Social Proofs and responding to comments and messages.

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