Building Social Proof in Social Media Circles – Personal Branding Tips

Since the taming of fire, people have aligned themselves with various clubs, clans, groups, movements, organizations and sports franchises. The obvious illustration of this is rooting for your home team. Where were you last Super Bowl Sunday? The odds are high that you remember where you were, and that you weren’t watching the big game alone.

This fact about association presents a great chance for anyone promoting anything, not just advertisers with over the top TV ads, but individuals too. In your case, this collective behavior offers a ripe opportunity to promote your book.

I live in Seattle, a city where football team spirit is high. No, wait – high is an understatement. Football here is a mania, after the local team took a couple trips to the Super Bowl. Walk down any street on a Sunday afternoon, and you may feel like Charlton Heston in a scene from The Omega Man or Will Smith in I Am Legend. It’s that quiet; everyone is inside, watching the game.

Fans don’t cheer feverishly only on game day here. Head out some Friday night to any pub, tavern or bistro. You’ll find that nearly 50% of the folks are dressed up in team jerseys and logoed sports caps. They’ve joined the tribe, and they live it. These fans give new meaning to the term “die-hard fan”.

Imagine if just one-tenth of them were wearing the logo from your book cover too. What would your career as an author look like then? What if your book could revolutionize the culture and galvanize people together the way a sports team unites beer drinkers, even on a team’s night off? Using social media, this idea may not be as far-fetched as it seems.

Social Proof Can “Show You The Money”

Social proof is a concept that plays to the deep-seated human need to be socially accepted. We assume that if other people are doing it, it must be the right thing to do. We don’t take into account what they know – just borrow their actions, believing the research has already been done for us. We don’t do it because we’re mentally lazy. We do it because we want to fit in and be accepted.

This desire is so deep-rooted that we will even do things that are contrary to our best interests – financial or otherwise – in order to stay consistent with what we assume about other people’s decisions. Most people leaving a theater will go through the same door everyone else is using, even if there is an unused door right next to it. We subconsciously assume it’s the right thing to do. We do it on autopilot.

The principle of social proof means we will convince ourselves of the correctness of other people’s decisions and make choices that conform to them. To speed up the decision-making process, we choose the path more traveled in the blink of an eye. Flying on autopilot is a fundamental aspect of human nature, and it helps us process the bombardment of messages we get all day long.

Leading the Pack

According to a 2014 study by Edison Research, 67% of Americans are active on some kind of social media. More than 75 million Americans check their social media accounts several times a day. About 58% of us use Facebook.

With two-thirds of the country checking in with their friends, family and neighbors at breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s a whole lot of opportunity for you to promote your book – just by showing up.

5 Tips to Build Reputation on Social Media

    1. Testimonials & Reviews: Using testimonials on social media are a great way to access the phenomenon of social proof. Using social media, you can publish testimonials and reviews from people who fit the demographic or psychographic profile of your target audience. The idea is to show that there’s support for your book from people who look “just like me”.

      To do this, ask your biggest fans for real testimonials (yes, this can include your mother). You will be surprised by what people have to say, and you just may learn a thing or two about your book. The more you can demonstrate that many people support your work, the more others will perceive your book as something worth reading.


    1. Join Groups: Another tactic you can use is to join groups within your social network. Find congregations of people who most closely match your book’s natural demographic. Groups make for a ready-made audience, and often they are hungry to associate with published authors. You can find groups that are indirectly related to your topic as well, populated by your ideal audience. The key is to become a regular and active voice in the groups. LinkedIn is a great place to get started.


    1. Start a Group: Consider creating your own group, either within your social network or on your own membership site. You can promote your group to your network of like-minded friends of colleagues, and watch your engagement numbers skyrocket.


    1. Solve a Problem: Communicate a compelling promise or purpose that speaks to an intense pain or pleasure for your group. Offer a newsletter or ecourse so you can stay in touch with them, and show them how to overcome the pain or increase the pleasure.


  1. Street Team: Finally, you can create a tribe with the groups you affiliate with. Use these contacts to build a street team, a small collective of three to twenty people who are avid fans of yours. If you put them to work to promote your books in social media channels, you could well find yourself at the hub of a jersey-wearing crowd – one with your number on it.

When it comes to measuring your influence in social media, many professionals turn to services like to measure their effectiveness. Setting up a profile takes a few minutes, and the ongoing reports will help keep you on-track with your effectiveness in social media channels.


Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.