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Investment 2: Image Management and Social Proof

Investment 2: Image Management and Social Proof

Most businesses do what they do well. It’s hard to stay afloat if you’re putting out an inferior product, your service is poor, and/or the experience of your customers is anything other than stellar.

Even if you’re doing a great job, and the people working closely with you, buying your product or service can vouch for you, how do other potential customers know the story?

Have you ever heard stories of companies who are undermined because of one bad situation, where a former customer heads to the internet to complain? The next thing you know, the first search result that comes up for “Bob’s Outboard” is someone saying “Stay away from Bob and his company. He’s a crook! 0 of 5 stars.”

The internet is a megaphone, and it goes both ways.

In this example, Bob and his company could be in trouble. If Bob had ignored being an active participant on the web, he’ll be starting out at a huge disadvantage and it could takes weeks, if not years to recover. This is because most online rating services will not take down reviews (or if they do it’s a time consuming process, and generally futile). Every time a potential customer searches for “Bob’s Outboards” via search engine or social media, a single glaring poor review would greet them. This is social proof that many people tend to believe over anything a business says to defend itself.

So what is social proof?

According to wikipedia;

Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation…driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more information about the situation.

According to Eileen Lee, formerly of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (now at Cowboy Ventures);

It’s the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.  It’s also known as informational social influence.

If Bob had already been actively cultivating an audience and demonstrating social proof through social media channels, location services like google maps and places, and hinting to his network that he’d love reviews and positive feedback, Bob would be proactively countering the potential damage to his business’s reputation by calling upon his social media network to speak up on his behalf—the social proof of Bob’s business.

The negative review that was put up? Countered by a string of positive ratings. By proactively investing in his web presence, Bob is ready to tackle PR challenges proactively and with a lot less stress—”Bob’s Outboard” would have all the social proof it needed and a group of people who had already told the story of their own positive experience with the business.

What does investing in digital marketing and PR look like?

To start with, it’s important to remember that marketing via social networks is free (to start, more complicated strategies take resources). It’s not hard to take photos of your products, your location, your smiling employees, or to find and share relevant industry information via your social media channels.

Anyone can generate user reviews on services like Yelp, Google My Business (formerly Google Places), and Facebook.

However, what you will invariably find is that truly effective digital marketing is not easy, it’s not necessarily intuitive (even for so-called “digital natives”, the millennials out there who have never lived in a world without wide spread internet and smart phones), and it shouldn’t be left to an untrained employee.

Cultivating a digital marketing and PR strategy requires active experimentation, time, energy, and most of all expertise. You must understand who you wish to interact with, the avenues by which you’ll engage and measure success, what you want your audience to do (and what you don’t want them to do), and ultimately determine how these actions impact the bottom line.

So if you’re not actively generating social proof via the web, our marketing team is ready to help you take a proactive approach to brand management online—we’ll make sure you’re engaging the right people at the right time. This is an insurance policy that you can’t ignore.


This is the second installment of a 4 part series published on Tuesdays. See the past installments here and here, and the third installment here.