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One of the biggest tools you can utilize in your communications when trying to get people to consume content, sign-up for your program or attend an event is SOCIAL PROOF.

So what is it and how does it look like when put into action on the web?

Well, social proof (of some nerdies call it “information social influence”) is taking a scenario where the end user is given some choices (buy something, attend something, sign-up for something, etc) and presenting some traction data, show the other people “like you” are doing X, Y or Z.  Basically. this helps people psychologically take the risk to move in the same direction as the others doing so.  Usually, this is more effective in circumstances where the choices might be a bit ambiguous or if there isn’t a clear demonstrated need to participate (it’s not mission critical).

Shopping is one environment that is a great example.  Here’s a great example of Crocs using it in a customer email blast:

 

social proof with social media - facebook twitter pinterest

 

Do you see how they are presenting the highlighted products based on the “MOST ______ed” across the three major social networks?

But it’s not limited to shopping obviously. when you provide social proof, it taps the assumption that the people around you are making good choices and removes some of the needed decision discernment.  Social proof increases confidence in the behavior being presented as a successful one.

 

Billions Served social proof example

There are many ways social proof can be offered.  Five different ways social proof is expressed are:

  1. Crowd-based social proof –– This is the Crocs example above.  Using the masses to signal suggested choices is highly effective.
  2. Celebrity or high influencer social proof — traditional endorsements leverage the high-profile individual’s brand equity by association to provide the proof to the audience
  3. End user social proof — This can be featuring user reviews.  Displaying Zagat or Yelp review counts and specific examples is an example of this.
  4. Expert or authority social proof — Using the testimonial of a sector expert or someone positioned with authority on the category or topic related to the behavior being proofed
  5. Personal friend networks social proof — you’ve seen Facebook ads feature specific friends within your own personal network that have already “liked” or purchased something.

Whether you are trying to increase the effectiveness of your donor development communications, registration for specific events or fundraisers, or even take up a new praxis or discipline, social proof can be a powerful tool to employ across your communications efforts.

What specific marketing communications project are you working on now that could benefit from integrating social proof?  Share your live examples and we can help brainstorm how to maximize the impact.

The economy is having a hard time rebooting itself. . .
Everyone is struggling more than ever. . .
Does the church have any responsibility to address these economic issues?
It’s one thing to promote better financial planning but what about when the church starts to hand out cold hard cash each week, right?

Check out this story where one pastor has decided to reverse the offering plate in order to bring more people into the sanctuary:

Now, while this church is relying on this tactic as a fundamental church marketing tactic, some other churches do one-time giveaways while trying to tie it into a Biblical message.

But what if the size of the church giveaway becomes outrageous? Does this make a difference?

QUESTION: WHAT MAKES GIVING AWAY FREE STUFF AT A WORSHIP SERVICE OK OR NOT?