Let’s face it, there are some industries that are simply not interesting enough to generate social buzz. For example, when was the last time you saw a wheel simulator or a carpet cleaning service go viral on Facebook? How often do people read and share a dentist’s blog?
In the world of online marketing, leveraging inbound strategies through content marketing has been one of the pillars for success. Unfortunately, coming up with interesting content ideas prove to be a challenge for dry industries, such as skilled trades, legal, and container shipping.
It may be hard, but it’s not impossible. For example, Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” campaign is heralded as one of the most successful social media marketing strategies about a blender – a seemingly boring and uninteresting industry.
However, crazy ideas such as blending expensive gadgets for shock value are not easy to come by. Instead, niche websites can rely on another strategy that can put their brand on the social radar – leveraging social proof.
What is Social Proof
When looking for products to buy online, a person usually searches for consumer reviews before making a decision. They require some sort of “proof” that will indicate that a brand is trustworthy. This is what social proof is all about.
Here are some of the main types of social proof and how you can incorporate them with your strategy:
Here’s a quick fact about social proof – 70% of online consumers trusts a peer’s recommendation even if they don’t know that person firsthand. Today, a lot of online consumers would rather refer to the experiences of others than conduct their own research on a particular brand. This is why they turn to review websites such as Yelp to look for customer reviews and recommendations.
Focusing on this type of social proof should be one of your priorities, especially if you’re in a boring niche. Since Yelp is considered as one of the most trusted brand review websites online, you should start by establishing your presence there. Here are a few tips:
- Use at least 5 high-quality photos
- Include your current phone number and corporate mailing address
- Include your operating hours
- Integrate searchable keywords for your Yelp description
To improve your brand’s credibility on Yelp, make sure you respond to reviews accordingly. If you receive a positive review, be sure to show your appreciation. However, you shouldn’t be disheartened in case you receive a negative review. They can still be turned into a positive customer experience if you do the appropriate actions.
First of all, you should never ignore a negative review on Yelp for others to see. Make sure to address the review accordingly and always start with an apology. You must resist the urge of defending your brand and ask the person to contact you via other means, such as email or phone.
In addition to customer reviews, you can also include customer testimonials in your site as social proof. Remember that customer reviews are more apt for brands that offer products, while testimonials are better suited for those offering services. A testimonial works by highlighting the experience of a previous client. This will help improve your credibility and the confidence of new potential clients when dealing with your brand.
The first rule of leveraging testimonials is to be 100% authentic. In fact, you’re better off without testimonials than to rely on fake ones. Keep in mind that an educated visitor can spot a fake testimonial at a glance. If you’re in a boring niche, chances are your audience are highly educated and knowledgeable on what to look for. And once you’re caught, your entire brand’s image could crumble to the ground.
Try to seek testimonials from past clients that your target audience can relate to. You can do this by asking them to be a little bit more specific. Don’t look for vague praises and encourage them to include key details, such as how helpful the customer service was or how fast the service was carried out. It’s important to be as thorough as possible for the testimonials to appear authentic. For example, take a look at the testimonials section in Greenleaf Pest Management’s website.
Adding testimonials to your site also doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, Air America – an air conditioning company – simply incorporated testimonials in the form of comments on a single page. It’s an easily repeatable step, but you should also include testimonials where they are most exposed and easily seen. You can include them in the sidebar or the page footer where they can stick around as the user navigates throughout the site.
Seals and Badges
Did you know that a VeriSign seal provided a 42% increase in conversions for Blue Fountain Media? For service-focused companies, showing off your accreditations and trust seals will make your audience be more confident with your brand – consequently increasing your conversions.
For social proof, some of the best sources for seals and badges include:
- Business partners and authority sites that feature your brand
- Security and trust seals
- Industry accreditations and awards
Badges and seals are highly effective in gaining your audience’s trust even in boring niches. For example, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers highlighted their accreditations and badges directly on their homepage to show prospects that they’ll be dealing with a credible and certified firm.
Apart from accreditations, a security certification is a must for SaaS and other online businesses. You should guarantee the safety of your clients’ security and privacy. You can install the Norton Secured Seal (formerly VeriSign seal) to assure your audience that your site is well secured.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are other forms of social proof you can obtain indirectly to improve your brand’s credibility. For example, including a social sharing plugin that measures the number of “shares” can offer strong social signals that increase your credibility.
If you’re running your site on WordPress, you can also use a social counter plugin to showcase your social media presence and start gaining social proof. You can use a plugin like AccessPress to get started for free.
The real challenge here is generating content that’s shareworthy. One strategy is to shift your focus away from being interesting to being helpful – what businesses are supposed to be in the first place. Remember that if you can provide relevant information that offers value to your audience, then there is no such thing as a boring niche.
Another strategy is to make specific content that’s targeted towards a specific social network. For example, Living Vintage – a home building and remodelling company – relied on picturesque photography to put their work in the best light. This is the kind of content that gets shared in image sharing networks such as Pinterest and Instagram. And as testament to how effective their strategy is, their page on a remodelled garden shed has now reached over 58 thousand repins on Pinterest.
Online marketing is never meant to be easy, especially for those in the boring industries. With the right practices that establish social proof, you can still maximise the trust of your audience and build your brand as an authority. Also, you should always keep an open and innovative mind. Remember that coming up with a crazy idea like Blendtec’s is not entirely out of the question.
Images: ”Author’s Own“
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