What is social proof?

BY Thomas Johnson



Building a website, writing an article or blog and making a video are all actions that are less effective without social proof to back them up.

"Social proof" is the term given when others indicate approval or endorsement of your services. The most common type of social proof is the sharing of content with others over social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Digg. Testimonials can also provide a form of social proof. Without social proof, this digital word-of-mouth, web content might as well be that no-named star that just so happens to float in space next to a more popular star: Even though it exists out there, it's hard to find, recognize and name.

Social proof is also used to describe the phenomenon that people on the Internet tend to conform to the opinions of others. As the cliché states: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” When looking at viral web content online, it is easy to see how social proof is applied. Why does a blog entry get higher rankings than other blogs that may talk about the same thing? Social proof. Why does one law firm receive more contact form submissions than another law firm? Social proof. So how can a law firm get more likes, retweets, or repins, and encourage this way of acting and thinking to increase its popularity on and offline?

To start, content must be unique and not be over-stuffed with keywords or be overly self-promoting. Content must also be informative, entertaining and created for the specific needs and wants of your target demographic.

Secondly, before content is released it must be decided how it will be distributed. You may know you will be cross-posting content on your website, but will some content also be posted on microblogs like Tumblr? Will it be posted on article distribution sites like goartciles.com or posted on Squidoo or hubpages? Will Google Blogger be used? If you have written items for PR purposes, on what media outlets will it be distributed?

Once you have worked out which networks are appropriate for which content, you will need to create a schedule for distribution and stick to it. This will help search engines can pick up the content easily.

You must also pay attention to the design and functionality of your own website. Does your site have the ability to post updates to Twitter or Facebook whenever new content is posted? If not, this must be setup, usually with the help of a content management system like WordPress. This ensures that the right content gets in front of the right audience and will help you get more Facebook likes and Twitter retweets. In addition, make sure that your website it submitted to Google via the Google website submission tool to guarantee the search engine will crawl the website more often and make the content more available.

Finally, plan a strategic public relations campaign with the goal of developing trust between your firm, attorneys, services, clients and prospective clients. The more value you offer and trust you establish in your expertise, the more people will follow your firm on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus and more. Once they are following you, they will continue to get updates, which in turn encourage them to share the content, influence their friends and family, and spread the idea that your firm is the place to go whenever an issue arises.

To establish social proof, you must get digital society to believe in your cause, your firm, your brand and your attorneys, and to believe in them enough to want to share their convictions with others. This in turn will create more word of mouth and, in the end, more business for your firm. Give people the ability to share unique, informative, and entertaining content, whether video, podcast, infographic, or written word. This is how to build a bigger law firm.

Thomas Johnson

Thomas Johnson is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine and serves on Adviatech's Search Strategy board.


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