AskPat 39 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, hey. What's up everybody? This is Pat Flynn and welcome to Episode 39 of AskPat. I'm here to help to answer your online business and entrepreneurship questions, five days a week.
This particular episode is brought to you by our official sponsor, FreshBooks. FreshBooks is cloud accounting software that makes it so easy to keep track of everything. You know, it sucks to dig through invoices and go through every record, and you know that it's the worst. The best thing you can do it get the software like FreshBooks.com because it'll help make everything so much easier. Our listeners will get a free FreshBooks trial for 60 days, if you go to FreshBooks.com/askpat, enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Again, FreshBooks.com/askpat. Thank you FreshBooks for sponsoring this episode. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
And today's question comes from Phil and it's perfect for those of you who are trying to understand more about how to provide social proof when you might not have it. Let's hear from Phil right now.
Phil: Hi Pat, this is Phil. Looking forward to starting my blog and building an email list. My question to you is, what can a startup use as social proof at the initial stages of their business? Especially if they're in a space that is relatively new to them on the expert scale. Thanks, Pat. Great show and I look forward to learning more on your show.
Pat Flynn: Phil, thank you so much for your question and I'm so glad you asked about social proof because it's a very important, very powerful tool that you can use for your brand or your business to help you just get more people get in tune with what you are doing and help capture people's attention. However, when you are first starting out, you have to understand these concepts before you put them in action because you can actually have social proof working against you. There is such a thing as negative social proof.
Now, to sort of demonstrate this and sort of share about, for those of you who might not know what social proof is exactly. Imagine you are driving in a new town with your family and you guys are all hungry. You're starving. You go to a restaurant and all of a sudden you open the doors and it's just jammed packed. All the seats are filled. The waiting, the wait is like 15 to 30 minutes. It's just packed. Everyone is having a good time. You hear the plates and the forks clinking and clanking. What are you probably thinking when you go in that restaurant and you see all those people? Besides, “I'm so hungry,” you might be thinking, “Wow, this must be a great place because everybody else is here eating too.”
And that is a really important concept to understand. The fact that humans often look to the group and to see what the group is doing to understand what the next move is or what the right answer is. We love to do what everybody else is doing. That is social proof.
When you're at the mall for example, you just see a huge crowd of people surrounding something, you can't help but think, “What is in that circle?” Or “What is going on? Why is everybody looking?” You see everybody look up in the air, you're going to look up too, even without thinking about it. That's just what humans do. You can use that as a strategy to help people, when they go to your site to understand that is a place to be because that's where everyone else is, or should be.
Now, on the other side, on the other side of the coin, imagine driving around with your family, you're hungry, and you go to a restaurant, you pull up, it's dinner hour and you go inside this restaurant and there's like one person there. All the seats are empty except this one booth with one person eating. You might start to think, “Well, hmm. This is weird. Why isn't anybody eating here. Something must not be right.” And you'll start to doubt the fact that you're there and you might leave and try and go some where else. That is negative social proof. Nobody is there so there's no group and you don't want to go there because the group is telling you that's not the place to be.
Now there's places online like Yelp and other places where you can leave reviews. You might even go and check the Yelp of that restaurant and be like, “Yeah, one and a half out of five stars. Tons of negative reviews. I'm not eating there.” And that's an example of the group telling you what to do or telling you what not to do. It's the consensus of the group of itself telling and showing people how to act or what to do. Again, that's another form of social proof, again in the negative form.
When you're just starting out, be careful about how you use social proof. I know that when I was starting out, one of the first things I did was I put a little Feedburner widget on the top of my site that said, “I have five subscribers,” and I did that, and most of them were probably me and two email addresses and my friends or something. But you know, I did that because that's what the big guys were doing. They had that same Feedburner widget showing they had a hundred thousand subscribers, and I wanted to be just like them. But what is that first impression I'm leaving when people come to the site and say, “Wow. You have only five subscribers.” That's probably not something you want to share.
Use social proof when it makes sense and when you personally would not be sort of deterred by a low number. So, for subscriber counts specifically, I typically say if you're going to share how many subscribers you have, at least say or show you have at least three figures worth. Because 120 looks a lot better, even though it's only 40 more, or 30 more than 90, right. 90 verses 120, it's a huge difference because that third figure just psychologically, “Yes, people are here. Over 100 people said yes, I want this person's content. I should be here too and pay attention.” Now there's other number of course like Twitter followers, and Facebook likes, and things like that. Of course if it's a very low number, I wouldn't share it. You might just have to make an educated decision at some point on when you're going to put that live and publicly on your site.
So what can you do? What can you do as a beginner blogger or just a brand new startup company to show social proof to those who visit your site and take advantage of that human need to want to be part of a group. The first thing I would want to say is, if you have any sort of activity from anybody on your site, anybody leaves a comment, you best reply and try to continue that conversation because one of the best thing you can do, especially when you are just starting out and you actually have an advantage when you're just starting out because you won't have very many people on your site.
So when people do interact, that's your opportunity to talk and touch every single person on that site and show that you are somebody who actually cares and yes, you're just starting out but you are here for them. You want to build your 100 true fans as fast as you can. You can do that and have an advantage when you are starting out because you can individually answer each individual comment. Really try to keep that conversation going, just interact with them. Don't just say, “Hey, thanks for the comment.” Try to keep the conversation going and show there's activity on your site.
It's just like if you go to a forum and there's just no activity, just very little content, it's not a forum worth going to. But if you go to a forum and you can see there are thousands of posts, there's posts being put on . . . there's conversations happening all the time, that's a place to be. People want to be there because they know there's more people watching or there's people paying attention.
When are you just starting out, if anybody leaves a comment on your site, always reply and try to keep that conversation going. That'll help other people want to join in that conversation as well, which is how you get a headstart there.
Now, other things you can share as far as form of social proof is not just in those numbers but who you are associated with as well. So perhaps you're associated with an organization related to your niche, maybe you've worked for them, maybe you've been mentioned on their site before. You want to share that as well. You may have been on sites where you see, “As featured in: New York Times, CNN Money, Yahoo Finance,” those sorts of things. Any sort of opportunity you have to share those sorts of things, the credentials or your connections to bigger companies that people do know about, you want to mention those things. Now don't go crazy, but pick a few of the most important ones to you. You'll notice on my site, at SmartPassiveIncome.com, they're at the very bottom of the page. When you are just starting out that might be something that you want to put higher because you want to show people that you have something that these big guys are paying attention to. Or that you're . . . just that association alone will help show a little bit of proof for new people who are brand new to your site.
I do want to say that maybe at the beginning, you want to focus a little bit less on the social proof. Even though it's a totally powerful concept and human need to be part of this group, you might be better off focusing more of your effort into creating amazing epic content that people will just, can't help but read, cannot help but share. That is what I think the most important thing. Once you start to build that credibility up front, which comes with providing content and making connections with people and showing people that you know exactly what you're talking about or you have something worth paying attention to. Then those numbers will start to climb and then you can perhaps add those number in later or create those connections that allow you create those associations with bigger bloggers, or bigger names, or bigger brands on your site.
One more time, yes, social proof is important, but it may not be important right away. It isn't important right from the start. What is most important is that you take action and you write content and you get it in the eyes of those who are going to benefit from it and those who have a target audience who can benefit from it. When you provide value, your social numbers will go up and then you can take advantage of social proof.
So, Phil, thank you so much for your question. I hope that helps you out a little bit. I mean there are some things you can do right now although, I would focus more of your energy on other things at the moment so you can get those numbers up and take advantage of social proof.
And Phil, I'm going to to have an AskPat t-shirt sent to you for having your question featured here on the show. And for those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like to ask me and have potentially featured here on the show, head on over to AskPat.com and just use the widget right on that page to ask the question, right through your computer with the microphone you have there. Awesome. I cannot wait to hear from you.
And to finish up of course, the awesome people over at FreshBooks.com who are sponsoring this particular episode, thank you so much. You can get FreshBooks to help you with your accounting, it's cloud based so you can be anywhere and keep track of your expenses and invoices and all that stuff. Makes it super easy at tax time of course. So right now they are doing a limited time extended 60-day trial for those of you listening. So if you go to FreshBooks.com/askpat and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section, that would help show that you came from here. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
Thank you so much. I appreciate your time. And as always I end with a quote. Today's quote is from Thomas Edison, says, “Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility and utility is success.”
Thank you so much for listening to AskPat and I'll see you in the next episode.
AskPat listeners get a thirty-day free trial to their software when you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]