Jan 07, 2014
By Russ Henneberry
Email Marketing

Businesses often focus on the negative when monitoring social media for mentions of their brand. Certainly, your business should be responding to complaints and other negative feedback. But the benefit of social media monitoring doesn't stop there.

A fantastic (and often overlooked) use of social media monitoring tools is to mine the social web for positive mentions and use them to build social proof.

A persuasive tool on the social web
In 1984 Dr. Robert Cialdini published his landmark book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I still remember reading it for the first time. My jaw dropped as Cialdini revealed what he had learned from studying sales people, marketers, and other "compliance experts." He revealed six "Weapons of Influence" that get people to say "yes," but none more relevant to the socially connected web than social proof.

According to Cialdini, the principle of social proof states that "one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct." Social proof is a critical part of our decision-making process. Think about it: we make dozens of choices every day based on what the crowd is doing. This system works very well. If you pick a restaurant that has 20 cars parked in front of it over a restaurant with one car, you'll be right most of the time.

Social proof is also critical to our survival.  If everyone around you is running the other way, you might want to think about doing it too.

How to use social media monitoring to build social proof
In the hands of a capable and ethical marketer, social proof is very persuasive. Social proof manifests itself in marketing messages like these:

  • "Find out what all the buzz is about."
  • "75% of Americans choose XYZ brand."
  • "How can millions of people be wrong?"

These marketing messages are everywhere in traditional advertising channels like television, radio, print, and direct mail. They are messages that are written by marketers, and they work.

But the power of social proof increases exponentially when the words come from others. When your customers, partners, and other evangelists sing your praises, this is social proof gold.

Make it part of your social media monitoring process to amplify the voice of these brand evangelists.  Here are a few ways to get started,

  • Make it easy for your evangelists to sing your praises. Add social media buttons on your content, product pages, event registrations pages, etc.  
  • Retweet, like, and otherwise share and promote the words of your customer evangelists.
  • Get permission to use the words of these social media evangelists in your other marketing collateral. Place these testimonials on your website, brochures, and sales presentations.

Don't just concentrate on the negative mentions in your social listening. With an eye toward the positive and the right process in place, social media is a treasure trove of social proof.

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