Social proof is, in the social selling world, the ability to be influential to a targeted audience where they see you as a thought leader and subject matter expert simply by what they read about you online, primarily on social platforms. Ultimately, it is gaining credibility in the eyes of your buyers and the belief that you are and will deliver what they learn from and about you.
This can be accomplished through:
1. Your Profile – When you move your profile from a resume to a resource, your audience will see you in a very different light. When you can bring insights to your profile visitors, your credibility and reputation as a subject matter expert and thought leader will resonate early on in your relationship.
2. Recommendations – This section is listed on your profile and is foundational to social proof. When you have testimonials from clients, colleagues and other stakeholders, your buyers will see the impact you have made on others.
3. Case Studies – Success stories are a powerful way to gain social proof. You can PDF them and upload them as Rich Media to your Summary and/or Job Section or add them to the Project Section of your profile and invite your client to be part of that project. Here is a simple case study layout that you are welcome to use as a guide:
- Client: Healthcare Insurance Company in the Greater Philadelphia Area (If you can’t use their name, describe the type of company/industry, size and location.)
- Driver: Due to the shift in the healthcare environment and the change in broker compensation, it was critical for our client to sign on a few new clients to not just maintain their revenue but grow. (This is what happened in their world to come to you, this is a vital part of connecting with your prospect – you want to hit them where they live now. This section speaks to your prospective client right before they need you.)
- Challenge: Client had difficulty identifying the influencers and decision makers in their target market (Fortune 1000 companies). Even when they did find the right people, getting past the gatekeeper was nearly impossible due to the endless call volume and the enormous competition in the industry. (Essentially why they couldn’t fix this or complete this project without you. If they are switching vendors to you use, why that vendor couldn’t deliver what they needed)
- Solution: We identified all the possible titles of the influencers and decision makers in the human resource departments, created saved searches with the accurate criteria including company size, location, and common connections. Once we identified key prospects we created messaging templates and a social selling plan to engage and connect. We then converted new connections to initial phone calls with strategic follow-up. (Share the actions you and your company took to fix the problem and resolve the issues.)
- Result: Over a 6-month period, our clients had 27 new meaningful, scheduled conversations with decision makers that converted to 8 face-to-face appointments and 3 new clients. (This is simply what did you make happen, and remember this is talking to your next client, so this should be something they want in their world.)
BONUS: With permission from your client, you can add your case study to the the Project section on LinkedIn. From your profile click on Add profile section, complete the fields with the case study in description. Choose “add a creator”, type your client’s name (you have to be a 1st degree connection) and then it will be linked to their profile as well. Also, PDF the case study and add it to Media on your experience, job description.
4. Original Blog Posts – By sharing your insights, strategies and tips, your audience will see your value very quickly. Consider topics that center around the questions and advice you currently give to your clients. There is a good chance that more people like your client will find value in content that other’s have inquired about. An effective post that will add to the social proof that you are good at what you do will have actionable insights that a reader can implement even if they don’t hire you
5. Native Video – This new and very effective feature on LinkedIn can help you connect with your audience. This feature allows you to upload a video between 3 seconds and 10 minutes. You can take a selfi-video in the parking lot of a client, talking about insights that you shared. A great video is a simple tip or strategy that can have an impact on your buyers. In addition there are some fun ways to leverage LinkedIn’s Native Video like Legend for IOS that allows you to create 6 second videos that have an impact. LinkedIn supports many file types ASF, AVI, FLV, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, MKV, QuickTime, WebM, H264/AVC, MP4, VP8, VP9, WMV2, and WMV3. We also support the following audio extensions: AAC, MP3, and Vorbis.
6. Skills – Although this section doesn’t have the impact as the others, there is an impression that if you are endorsed by many people for specific skills, than you must be good at it. I would recommend identifying the top 3 skills that your buyers would be impressed by, add them to your Skills section, move them to the top, and get your friends and colleagues to endorse you.
7. Share Relevant Content with Your 2 Cents – Curating great content and sharing it with your network is certainly a great way to engage your audience. Even more importantly, add your commentary and insights, as that is what offers the social proof that you are a thought leader and subject matter expert.
8. Engage on Other People’s Content – Add your insights in comments on posts, publications, articles etc. Make sure you are truly adding value that aligns with the content itself. You can find specific content on LinkedIn by using #hashtags in the search bar.
Social Proof is foundational to building your reputation as a thought leader and subject matter expert on LinkedIn and it will help you grow your business.
If you have some other ways you showcase social proof, please share them in comments below.