Social validation: the best advertising money can’t buy

Oct 24, 2022 | Online Marketing

Social validation offers the kind of marketing money can't buy.

Social validation is important. It used to be that when we wanted a recommendation for a product or service, you’d ask a friend.

These days we can solicit a flurry of suggestions from the ol’ social media hive mind in no time flat.

A quick question will get you a who’s who of recommendations, warnings and connections to personal contacts and local businesses.

Like the online version of word-of-mouth advertising, social validation is a great jumping off point for research, as it immediately establishes a sense of trust. 

Even when you’re not searching for something, just seeing a thread of recommendations in your feed will keep that business at top of mind the next time you are on the hunt for a relevant product or service. 

Case in point, earlier this summer, I saw a thread on Facebook where a tourist asked who made the best fish and chips on Vancouver Island.

Numerous sources chimed in singing the praises of fish and chip eateries, near and far. On that list, Jiggers was given the most rave reviews. It stuck with me. And so, on my next trip to Ucluelet, I made a point to check them out – and they gained another fan. (What’s the secret to their batter? Fresh fish.)

I didn’t know anyone on that Vancouver Island thread, but I didn’t need to. The social validation was enough to convince me that Jiggers was a safe bet. 

While this is an example of an organic way that social validation works, there are ways to cultivate these opportunities for your own business.

Expand your social media network

First things first, you need to have an online presence. An active Facebook page where you post regularly and personally engage with your followers is going to improve your visibility and extend your reach.

Your most loyal fans, friends and family will no doubt support you from the start by liking your page. As they continue to like and comment on your posts, that social validation appears in their friends’ feeds, exposing your business to a wider audience.

Create a realistic social media plan that you can manage on a consistent basis and then foster those connections. If someone likes a post who is not a follower, send them an invite to like your page. A little effort goes a long way.

Make it easy to leave reviews

Your Facebook page should give people the opportunity to rate and review your business, which will help boost your brand reputation.

Be sure to create business profiles on Google and Yelp as well, then upload your latest photos and marketing materials to put your best foot forward.

Keep a close eye on these pages so you’re able to respond accordingly. Nothing gives people the warm and fuzzies like a personal thank you after they’ve left a thoughtful review. Nurture those connections and your business will thrive.

What about poor reviews? Don’t sweat it. We’re human and accidents happen. Plus, there will always be a few fickle Freddys having a bad day and looking for a space to vent.

Immediately addressing a situation and letting an unhappy customer know they are heard can make all the difference.

Because internet archives are immortal, others researching your brand will see this interaction in the future and feel confident knowing that you cared enough to make things right. 

Not to mention, I think we can all agree that having a perfect score looks a bit sketchy versus an honest mix of peaks and valleys. You don’t want to look like you wrote the reviews yourself.

Learn as you go

Social validation is a great way to keep your fingers on the pulse of how the public perceives your business. Ratings and reviews can help you to assess at a glance what’s working and what’s not.

Report cards may vary between individual customers regarding your greatest strengths and weaknesses, but over time you will be able to sense a trend. 

Like Dale Carnegie says, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” Use these insights to highlight your more popular or unique qualities that separate you from the competition, and make the necessary adjustments to either eliminate, pivot or improve any lackluster areas.

After all, what good are reviews if you’re not doing something with them?

Encourage social validation on your website

Including customer ratings and reviews in your online store gives prospects that extra level of reassurance right when they are making a purchasing decision.

Chances are your very best customers are already singing your praises all over town. Find out if they would be willing to provide you with a written testimonial that you can feature on your website.

Sometimes including a photo helps validate that they are a real person too. 

Reviews and testimonials on your site are also helpful for SEO. What better way to inspire trust and garner clicks than having a positive review about your business show up in the search results?

To inspire people to leave a review, start by setting up a series of automated emails to go out after a purchase has been made. 

The first message should thank them for their patronage and if relevant, let them know when they can expect their product to arrive or confirm their appointment time.

The second message should let them know when the item has shipped or remind them of their upcoming appointment and cancellation policy.

The third message should go out a couple days to a week after the product has arrived or the service has taken place to ensure they were satisfied with the result. 

If they are pleased, now’s your chance to ask if they would be willing to leave a rating or review on your website or include a prompt so they can share a little something about their experience on Facebook.

Of course, not every customer will take advantage of this feature, but most will at least appreciate you checking in. 

Social validation is more powerful than any other form of marketing you could possibly pay for, as consumers are more wary of advertising than ever before.

There is no better time like the present to get started leveraging those word-of-mouth opportunities online and see where it takes you!

— Melodie Krieger