by Kenneth Rudich
Good and great Social Proof depends on having a worthy core product or service behind it.
With that in place, Cultivate and Seize become two of the better alternatives for giving it traction.
Cultivate speaks to the ability for triggering Social Proof through organic means.
In the offline environment, it’s historically been referred to as word-of-mouth promotion. Online Social Proof is a modern day version of this. It usually involves audience engagement or crowd sourcing and technology automation (e.g., counters, tabulators, comments sections, reviews, etc.). Be it product inspired or socially motivated, anyone who can get those on-page counters humming in response to their content is getting it done organically.
Seize enters the picture when you have a viable form of Social Proof at your disposal, but organic cultivation alone either will not bring it to light or do it real justice. Instead, you must seize the benefits of Social Proof in order to receive them.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) or other relevant analytics, emerging trends or events (really, anything that might otherwise pass unnoticed or be under-utilized), become prime candidates in this quest.
When pursuing this alternative, consider the business/marketing ramifications of it — is it needed only to seed or launch an organic process or must it be regularly curated and managed; what is the best way to present the material, both creatively and from a channel delivery standpoint; how much financial investment will it require; and how long can it be expected to perform in this capacity?
We saw an example of Seize in part 1 when McDonald’s used the golden arch sign as a surrogate counter. Few people would have known about this Social Proof had it not been proactively trotted out in this manner. Unlike organic cultivation, it didn’t just happen, and no outsiders could have made it so. And yet, it was a good and great form of Social Proof to have at their disposal.
(However, once this number reached into the billions, it became so large and abstract that it probably dwindled in value for personifying Social Proof anymore. Especially, too, since the industry itself had become intensely crowded with competition and consumer tastes started to change. This goes to show that Social Proof, like almost anything else, can have a shelf-life limitation.)
So the main difference between Cultivate and Seize is this: Cultivate creates “pull energy” for instigating outside-in activity. Seize identifies other hidden possibilities and pushes them out.
Neither form of Social Proof is better than the other. They’re both legitimate, because they’re both built on the back of a solid core product or service.
As a matter of fact, the ideal scenario is to have both in the service of your product or brand.
Seizing Social Proof
Here at marketing-strategy-management.com, our best Social Proof (at least for now) derives from the success we’ve had with attracting visitor registrations. This is synonymous with getting new subscribers aboard, and also the rate at which it’s occurring.
Our dilemma with this, as it were, was that there’s no on-page counter for publicly displaying it (which we hope to remedy soon); and even if there was, it alone would fail to recognize the full potential of the Social Proof it provides.
In addition, we were wary of doing something with it that would simply come across as shameful self-promotion. Instead, we wanted something more savvy and subtle in appearance, but still gritty in effect.
A Social Proof Solution
We have several ideas currently afoot for accomplishing this goal, one of which we’d like to share now so as to illustrate another approach for seizing Social Proof (similar to what McDonald’s had done back in its time). We hope you’ll find this example useful as a source of inspiration for generating ideas of your own.
One of our ideas centered on producing a mini-course that provides an introduction to, and overview of, contemporary content marketing. The mini-course is composed of four training modules, and it uses our Stylized PowerPoint Video technique to deliver it.
Within this context, we decided to integrate (not just incorporate but actually integrate) our Social Proof into the last module. The aim was to make it appear authentic, seamless and justifiable for fulfilling the learning objective, as opposed to doing it for the sake of just self-promotion.
View the video module below to see what we did (it’s less than 7 minutes in duration, so it won’t take long).
Social Proof is a potentially powerful marketing tool.
It’s always advisable to Cultivate and Seize it whenever you can.