Since restarting this blog over the New Years break, I set out my ambitious plan to reach 50,000 page views by the end of the year. Each of my goals is broken down into smaller manageable targets in order to allow for constant reflecting and tweaking. The problem with year long goals, and why I dislike them is that you never really look at them again until the end of the year (I go into detail on this popular post: Why SMART goals do not work).
Part of the journey towards 50,000 page views per month involves creating lots of social proof for my blog. That means that people should at first glance, understand (or be given the impression) that my blog is already liked by others.
It’s the same feeling as you get when you walk into an empty restaurant compared to a busy restaurant. The fact that one is busy suggests it must have something about it which attracts lots of customers (especially if they are happy). Whereas an empty restaurant can sometimes leave doubt in your mind as to why no-one else choses to eat there.
This is why restaurant owners will offer massive discounts to ensure their restaurants look full, because the social proof it creates, can sometimes make or break a business. Likewise, when you see a random queue anywhere, it turns your head, you become more curious… it is that same curiosity we want to generate on our sites.
Your blog or website is no different. If people visit my blog and do not see any proof that others like my content, then it is unlikely they will take the time to look through all my work. If on the other hand they come to my site and see lots of comments, shares and testimonials, they are more likely to delve deeper. Something which will help me tremendously with my challenge to 50,000 page views.
So February 2012 is the month I create social proof.
How to create social proof on your blog
Show that your posts have been shared:
You will notice that all of my blog posts have been shared at least once, that is because I share it personally on my own Twitter account. A little step that looks better then a line of ‘zero shares’. A further step which I know some marketers take, is to create multiple accounts on Twitter and thus have your site instantly shared numerous times via Twitter. I will stay away from this strategy as once is enough for me.
If your posts have been shared via social media portals, it suggests your content was good enough for people to actively want to share it with their friends. It gives you instant social proof.
My blog design (by Thesis Awesome) has the inbuilt feature to display both social share numbers (via Twitter) and comments. Simply displaying the Tweet numbers openly has helped encourage people to share my articles and at the same time creates social proof by the fact my content is worthy of being shared.
Shared content has another advantage. When someone you know recommends an article, you are more likely to read it yourself. It has been given social proof. I am now receiving daily traffic from both Twitter and Facebook because of these types of shares.
Highlight the posts that have been shared the most:
I came across this trick by accident. Whilst changes a few things on an older post, I noticed under the ‘quick edit menu’ on WordPress posts page, an option to make the post sticky. This would make a certain post always stay at the top of my first page.
So why not use this to make my best and perhaps most shared post, sticky? That way instead of seeing a mediocre blog, users will firstly see my most shared article and thus will have the impression my blog is highly popular with content really worthy of sharing.
I found my best article: 9 reason why you will never be successful. It has 222 Facebook shares and over 156 Twitter shares. It was also the post that hit the Digg homepage back in 2010. Not only does this article offer great content but it has been proven to be worthy of sharing. So, I simply made it sticky so it will be the first article that people who hit my homepage will read.
Some instant social proof, within a few seconds.
Use Twitter as a testimonial feed.
If you look at the sidebar on this site you will notice a new Twitter application. If you look even closer you will notice that all the tweets in this app are only ones that either say nice things about me, or are from people who are well known and thus give me social proof. (If you are connected to worthy people you are assumed to be worthy too by association)
If you actually go to my Twitter account, you will notice my following is relatively small (as of the day I am writing this) but it is also relatively new. So instead of trying to impress you with Twitter user counts, I use this little trick to still make Twitter work for me.
Whenever a tweet feeds into your stream (from the people you follow) there is an option to ‘favorite’ it. So I firstly went through my Twitter page and highlighted all the posts that said nice things about me, or showed my connections to other well known marketers. Essentially creating a ‘testimonials’ feed.
The next step is simply to go to Twitters widgets page and customize your app. It’s is really that straight forward and took me less then 10 minutes. I will write a complete post on this in the coming days with step by step instructions.
These are some simply steps which I have already taken to increase the Social Proof on my site. The next step is to increase the level of comments on my site because that is also a common indicator of social proof. One such method I will be looking at is:
Blog commenting Tribes
A blog commenting tribe is simply a group of people who get together (all who have blogs) and they all agree to write quality comments on each other’s blogs. This helps create the instant social proof that many newer blogs lack. We will create groups of 10 bloggers who will each write on fellow groups members blogs twice a week. This will not only help traffic stats but will make your articles look instantly popular too.