How to Leverage Social Proof

One of my favorite books I read, oh, five-six years ago is a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. This is actually a local ASU professor here who wrote the book, and he talks about the different persuasions in marketing, and one of the things he talks about is social proof. Social proof is logos of companies that you have used that have reputations, so you’re leveraging that reputation to build yourself up, testimonials, reviews—but specifically, I want to talk to you about reviews.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to go down to the Yelp offices here in Scottsdale. And it was awesome, I had no idea how big their place was here. But we went in, and we were talking to them and just learning a little more about just what they do for customers and how their advertising works. So, I wanted to address just a couple things that are misconceptions with reviews on Yelp. The first thing is that people only go there for negative reviews. And that’s not true. 78% of reviews on Yelp are three stars or better. That’s a pretty cool stat!

Another common misconception is that they filter bad reviews to the top. And that’s not true—in fact, they don’t filter reviews at all, to keep a certain integrity. So, one thing that is misconceived is when it says “Recommended” or “Not Recommended” for a review. That has to do with the user profile that posts the review and the activity that’s identified, whether it’s recommended or not. If you’re on Yelp and you’ve done ten or fifteen reviews for businesses, most likely you’re going to be in that “Recommended” reviews. If you go out to all your customers, and none of them have accounts, well the chances are if they’re just registering an account and you’re their first review, it’s not going to be “Recommended” because there’s no background to pull from, so that’s all part of their algorithm. Now, what you want to do is to make sure that you’re mentioning that, have a link to Yelp, or maybe Google reviews, different places online, Facebook reviews that a client can easily click.

One of the other misconceptions is that you have to have a ton of reviews to start with Yelp advertising. Well, first off I would say that you start with an Enhanced Listing. What that does is it takes your competitors off your page. They do that strategically, I know it’s a little of dirty pool, but you don’t want your competitors on your page because that’s a chance that they could see somebody that they might like better than you for whatever reason, and click over to them. So, it gets rid of those. It also allows you to add video, more pictures, have a call-to-action button that will click over to your website. So, an Enhanced Listing is a huge benefit right there. You can also do pay-per-click advertising with Yelp so they will show you when people are searching for your category, for your product or service. They will show you above in the Sponsored Listings area above the organic listings. Even if you don’t have a lot of reviews, it’s been shown to increase map directions up to 220%. It shows an increase of mobile phone calls 152%, and it increased web clicks 113%. So these are all big stats, and this is with 0-5 reviews, so not a lot of reviews are necessary to get it started.

The one difference between Yelp and Google AdWords—which you know I’m an advocate of, because people are searching for it—they’re usually a little further in the funnel. Now, they know that they want a product or service, they want to go out to eat, they want to go shopping. Now they’re just trying to decide, “Well, who do I want to go shopping with?” They’re not in the initial stage of interest, they’re a little further down in decision time. So, that’s one thing about this review site that’s important. And for your site, it’s social proof. It’s something that you can show a badge on, you could actually pull some of the reviews and put it on your website, so that when people come there, they see what great things people are saying about you so that they trust your company even more.

Now, I understand that negative reviews happen. The one thing that you want to do if you have a negative review, is you want to have a canned response. You don’t want to be combative, and you don’t want to be angry. You just want to say, simply, “We understand that you had this experience. We sincerely apologize, and our management would be happy to email you offline to see what we can do.” Something similar to that, to where it’s very canned, other people see that you’ve responded to somebody that’s angry. And we all know that there’s all kinds of crazy out there, and you’re not going to have perfect reviews from everyone, but if people see that on a negative review, that you’ve responded, that you’re kind, you’re trying to solve the problem, and you’re not combative, chances are that might even enhance the way they see your business, with all the other social proof of great reviews.

So these are a couple things about Yelp A few misconceptions, a few best practices, that can help you to make social proof a piece of your business. So, if you have any questions about Yelp, contact us. We can help you get your Enhanced Listings all set up, and see if their advertising helps with your digital marketing strategy. So with that, we’ll leave you with a quote.