March 22, 2009

Social Proof

What is Social Proof? This is a term that is used when selling something, to mean that you have proof that others like it and use it. If others like and use it, it “proves” that it is valuable.

You are selling your blog to your visitors. You are selling them on the idea that your blog is popular and has content that is valued by others, so that they will want to come back, and they will want to recommend your blog to others.

So here are some things you can do to increase the Social Proof on your blog:

Allow and Encourage Comments

This is one thing I did wrong in the beginning – I did not allow comments. I fixed this and started allowing comments, and it was a big improvement. Comments on your posts show that others are reading and are interested enough to comment. Make sure you encourage people who comment on your blog, by replying to their comments, and by visiting their blogs and commenting there.

If you are not getting any comments, comment on other blogs. This works especially well if you comment on lesser-known blogs. The top bloggers don’t have time to visit your blog and comment. But a newbie blogger will be thrilled at your comment and will likely visit your blog and comment.

Display the MyBlogLog Widget On Your Blog

You will need to sign up to and add your blog. Be sure to upload a photo of yourself too. Then you will be able to get a widget to put on your blog, that displays photos of recent visitors to your blog. It only displays visitors who are members of MyBlogLog.
This helps with social proof, because it shows that you have visitors to your blog. The photos also help to make your blog look more lively.

I had problems with the widget loading slowly, but I solved that by putting the widget in the blog footer. That way, it didn’t slow down the rest of the page from loading. On single post pages, it was right below the post, so it could still be seen.
The reason you want to add your own photo to MyBlogLog is so that it will display on other blogs that you visit. This makes people used to seeing your photo, and gets people to feel like they know you.

Add Other Widgets As Appropriate

I have the “How much is your blog worth?” button on my blog. It values blogs very highly, so it is a cool thing to display. Even on a new or low-traffic blog, it can often give a high dollar amount, so it adds to your social proof.

I noticed that this button does not update automatically. I go back to the site at least once a week to get the new value to post on my blog. As long as I have it, I might as well have the current value – especially if it is going up!

I also have the 45n5 top 100 widget from displayed, since I have a good ranking. If you are not in the “make money online” niche, you may be able to find some kind of ranking in your niche. Or you could create one!

You can also show your FeedBurner feed count. Don’t show it if it is less than 100, though. That would be counterproductive, as it would just advertise how few subscribers you have. Just use the regular feed icon until you get over 100 subscribers.

Keep your eyes open for other social proof that you could display on your blog.

Don’t discount this “social proof” idea. It is very powerful. Do you remember when Shoemoney suddenly got hugely popular? It was right after he displayed his huge AdSense check.

Similarly, John Chow’s blog surged after he started disclosing how much money he was making.

And Darren Rowse’s post where he first told the world that he was making a 6-figure income by blogging, had a huge effect on his popularity.

You might not have such spectacular income to advertise, but play up whatever you can – whether it is your earnings, your popularity, your ranking, or whatever.

Don’t think that great content alone will get you noticed. You have to play up your strengths too. People notice what other people have already noticed. It’s a lot easier to be a loyal reader of a blog that already has some loyal readers.

This is a continuous process. It will not happen overnight. Start by getting a few comments. Then add the MyBlogLog widget or similar widgets, to show photos of your readers. Add other forms of social proof as soon as you can. Every little bit helps your blog’s popularity to grow.