Social Proof

What Exactly Is Social Proof And How Do Bloggers Use it

image - Numbers MatterMost bloggers that value exposure want to make it as easy as possible for their readers to share the blog’s content on social media sites. Thanks to a host of WordPress plugins and code, it’s also a simple matter to include the power of social proof in those social share buttons, newsletter & feed subscriptions and blog comments. This post will explore several ways to show your social influence but, in the end, it will be your decision on what and how much you display on your blog.

First, what is Social Proof?

So you’re standing in the park and you see a jogger trip and fall. He’s okay but, you can’t help it, it looked really funny. You’re standing in a crowd; do you laugh? A lot of people would look around to see what the crowd is doing to see if they should laugh of not. That is social proof.

The crowd can determine the actions of the individual with this third-party validation we call social proof. ~ Brian D. Hawkins (Soon to be famous quote lol)

So how does social proof play into blogging?

You read a great post on a new blog you just found; should you comment? Are there other comments? That’s what a lot of bloggers look for – that social proof. Many people will comment on a blog that already gets interaction from other readers. That social proof shows several things, including authority and activity. Many readers that may decide to comment want to know others will see the comment, not just the blog admin. Numbers DO count!

image - Social proof - example 1

It’s not ALL about Social Media

I do think it’s important that I clarify something at this point. There seems to be a misconception among many bloggers that the “social” in Social Proof means social media. I doesn’t, not really. We can show social proof with our social media stats, among other things, but social proof has to do with the influence that’s driven by the actions of others. This can be shown in a very wide range of situations, not just social media – as you will see below. Of course, we’ll be looking at social proof from a blogger’s perspective.

One example might be car traffic in an unusual situation. A road closes or a tricky detour appears and everyone just follows the crowd. Marketers are VERY familiar with numbers and the social influence they can have. Probably the most well known social proof example is McDonald’s “billions sold” marketing message. Of course you like it, because everyone does.

Feed and newsletter subscriptions

The same holds true with list/feed subscriptions and social sharing. The more “social proof” a post shows, the more likely others will act. Obviously, this isn’t true with everyone but the concept is solid.

image - Social proof - example 2

Showing your social clout

Social Share Buttons
image - Mobile social share buttons There are several WordPress plugins that will help bloggers add social share buttons to their posts. Personally, I like Twitter Facebook Google Plus One Social Share because it works on mobile devices.

Social Widgets
Many bloggers display social proof in with Facebook and Twitter widgets. Similar to the social sharing buttons, these widgets have a dual purpose; allow readers to easily follow your brand on the social networks AND to display your social influence.

Newsletter Subscriber Stats
I use and recommend AWeber($) as an autoresponder and newsletter delivery service. AWeber provides a nice Subscriber Count Chicklet that shows the exact number of active subscribers you have on any given day. The counter chicklet self-updates daily so there’s nothing to worry about once it’s added.

RSS Feed Subscription Stats
I also use and recommend FeedBlitz($). FeedBlitz also has its own self-updating chicklet you can add to your blog to help increase your number of feed subscribers.

Google PageRank And Alexa Rank
image - Google PageRank and Alexa Rank buttonsNow we’re getting into less important social proof to display, especially with Klout scores, but they’re still important enough to discuss. It is, of course, possible to see page rank and other stats with various browser plugins/extensions and toolbars but don’t assume everyone knows or bothers with these tools.

Depending on your niche, most readers probably won’t see your page rankings unless they see it on your blog. With that said, in most niches, these numbers may not mean much to the reader anyway.

Klout and Other Scores
image - Klout Score 79Okay, I already know that I’m going to get the “I hate Klout” comments, along with the anti-Alexa and anti-PageRank clan, but I stick to what I’ve always said, Numbers do Count! Here’s the truth that needs to be said…

It doesn’t matter what you or I personally think about numbers, scores or rank; it doesn’t matter how accurate or unfair they are; what matters is how the masses perceive it. Nuff said!

Klout and page rank aren’t something most bloggers will need to include on their blogs, depending on their niche and message. For example, my friend Carly Alyssa Thorne shows her impressive Klout score on her blog. Carly teaches influence and runs the Kickin’ it with Klout Facebook group so it makes all of the sense in the world to include her Klout score as part of her social proof strategy.

Third party social stat tools

image - Social share results from LinkTally

There are third party tools you can use to determine the number of times a post or page have been shared on various social sites, whether your own or someone else’s website or blog. I’m sure there are others but two that I’ve come across are and Either of these free online social stat tools will give you the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for any page you submit.

Fake Twitter Followers Test

Are you interested in how many of your Twitter followers are real people? REAL followers are important (see the next paragraph). Again, there are probably others but I’ll list two options: StatusPeople and SocialBakers. It’s not an exact science but it’s interesting to see the results.

image - Fake Twitter Followers Test

Important – don’t cheat

This post is meant to show you ways of leveraging your influence and hard work to encourage others to either act on your behalf, (such as liking, sharing, tweeting, etc.) or trust and understand your good reputation (such as subscribing or following your affiliate links).

One of the worst things you can do, and we see it daily, is cheat by showing fake numbers or taking dangerous shortcuts to obtain the desired numbers. Remember, your reputation is at risk and without that, you reduce your influence and limit your opportunity for profit. Never buy things like Twitter followers, Facebook likes or blog comments; no matter how tempting it may be.

One final note

Numbers go up and down and, at the end of the day, they are just numbers. Be careful not to obsess over numbers and statistics; they’ll drive you crazy and take away from the truly important tasks of a blogger – writing great content and building true relationships with our readers.

Now, give me some luv…

Wow, that was a lot of writing! lol Now it’s your turn, if you don’t mind. I’d love to see your comments, ideas or questions on social proof, what works, what doesn’t and what’s important to you. We LOVE your comments – not only because it adds to our social proof, but because we love the interaction. 😉

Related Social Media Post:

About Brian D. Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. “what matters is how the masses perceive it” – couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s the whole point isn’t it? While my psychology background may come out a bit here, it is ingrained in our psyche to want to be accepted, or to belong. In the online world of blogging, we measure that sense of belonging/acceptance through FB shares, comments, Klout, subscriptions, tweets, pins, traffic, etc. Whether we agree with the numbers is almost irrelevant, they still exist and drive nearly all of what we do.

  2. , thanks for sharing these all because from there you can find out how your site/blog is performing on social media and till you don’t have enough popularity on social media till then you can’t get good response in online marketing. So these are the tips which are on target to prove your presence in social media.

  3. I personally use a plugin that displays the most popular social media but thats more so people can share something if they like what they’ve read. Apart from Stumblers most people seem to abstain from sharing. I think we talked about that in another post. 😉

    I do show the numbers though because, like you said, most people look for social proof before committing themselves. I’m not on of them so I’m going to give this a tweet for sure. More social proof for you, so to speak. 😉

  4. Thanks Tom. I’ve seen and heard bloggers for years saying these numbers don’t matter, can be faked, and are inaccurate. The same can be said for our credit scoring system but we don’t go around telling people that want to buy a house not to worry about their credit scores.

  5. I think you’re saying you can use those tools to see your social scores until you have numbers to show? I can understand that. At the very least make sure you have the social share buttons up to make it easiest as possible for readers to share your posts.

  6. I am getting a little of that Déjà vu Peter but I don’t remember from where. 😉 Your social share numbers seem pretty low with the traffic I think you get. That makes me wonder if some of the readers can’t see the buttons for some reason. Just a thought.

  7. Michael Belk says

    Brian, i agree we are fascinated by all this social proof. It is a reality of blogging and an example of how humans respond to action cues. We all would like to believe we are not followers, but in someways we are just that.

    The question is how far will we follow someone. Lucky for us things like sharing, commenting, or liking are not as critical as jumping off a bridge. 🙂

  8. Wow, those are all very useful tools. I can’t believe how many fake followers I have try 84%. I was wondering why they never talked. Of course, I only paid $5 for them. But I thought it was through means of differently doing something. Oh well! Nice post very well thought out and laid out covering all angles. You love your social media! I’m not so worry if someone has no social proof, because I know they are trying or just starting off. So I try to help them by following or liking or anything like that. – Scott Craighead

  9. This What Exactly Is Social Proof And How Do Bloggers Use it is great post. I enjoy the creative article you have wroten. You have great skill and talent. I see forward to you post next time, dank you.- Spam commenter

  10. I’m not sure that’s it Brian. I have the links appear above and below the post so they should be able to see it. Maybe my visitors aren’t the sharing kind?

  11. himanshu says

    Social proof not only provides your readers believe in your blog but also boost subscriptions to news letters which is in fact a good signal to see how important your blog is important for them.

  12. I think you have created a great informative post. Numbers do matter at the end as if nobody reads your content it is wasted work in my opinion. There are plenty of nice apps to help you keep track and display your numbers, but I would wait to show numbers until you have something to show.

  13. How much social shares we have got, which is not factor but main thing is that how much visitors we have got from those shares. Honestly, I get minimum 100 tweets for newly published post but it gets only 5 to 10 visitors from twitter but it gets 20-30 shares in Facebook where it gets 100 visitors from Facebook. Finally I can say that engagement with reputed fellows can give more exposure where number of share is not a factors.

  14. Hey!

    I think you nailed the point. Bull’s eyes.

    When it comes to social proof, people love to see that you are…some sort famous. They need to know that. Even if they know it, you got to convince them further!

    The methods you had shown above is more than just great. Nice info … really!

    Keep it up buddy and I enjoyed the article.


  15. My thoughts about Social proof are the following: Social proof can be be a powerful marketing tactic no matter what form it takes, but some forms of social proof are more effective than others. A general rule of thumb is that the more specific your social proof, the more successful it tends to be.

  16. Nice point Michael, human nature. I was just talking with a local friend about a similar tendency yesterday; that we all tend to think we’re a little smarter that those around us. Mathematically, most of us have to be wrong. lol

  17. Yeah Scott, it’s a bad idea to buy followers of any kind on any network – that includes likes, follows, RTs, views, comments, or any other type following. I recommend that people don’t follow everyone back either, especially the bots.

  18. Enstine Muki says

    Hi Brian,
    Good content!
    I have always advised against buying these fake followers and likes. It ends up destroying your reputation. I’m glad you brought up this point so well.

  19. I would like to thank you for one of the first well written and informative posts I have read in a long time! I have been reading posts and blogs for quite awhile now, and while some may have good information they are poorly written or they are written very well but have little or no useful information. I think the quote will catch on too “The crowd can determine the actions of the individual with this third-party validation we call social proof”. ~ Brian D. Hawkins Because it is very true. So thank you! I have had an online business for over 12 years and know for a fact that what you have written is very true.

  20. Social media shares may a factor of self satisfaction until it gets massive traffic from social media websites. Traffic is the fuel of any website, so where from it comes which is not matter but getting traffic a highest priority in social share counts.

  21. I like your final note very much. We can get so caught up in analytics and numbers that we lose sight of what we are really trying to do, and we just start to chase numbers. Do what you WANT to be doing, and the numbers will follow, don’t chase the numbers at the expense of your interests!

  22. And from various case studies it has been proved that Social Signals are a great ranking factor. So it became much vital to care about Social Media Signals.

  23. Awesome article. There were some lines that i just read more than twice to suck them up. Google is still the biggest player when it comes to traffic sources , but total dependability on it is out of trend when we have almost dozens and dozens of social media websites that can be alternative source of traffic.
    Cheers !

  24. Social Proof is embedded in the minds of every web user.It had been in my mind for some time but i could not articulate the concept.Glad to hear that a term exists for it.Now pondering the ideas.

  25. Hey Brian

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The numbers definitely count.

    When I started out blogging and I had no shares and no comments then no-one came to visit my blog.

    Now I have more shares and loads of comments I get more people visiting. Simple really! 🙂

  26. I agree with this. Numbers do count however you have to build it up with integrity. Thanks, great blog.

  27. Woooo Hoooo Love it, couldn’t have said it any better LOL… I think we both did LOL… Great post

  28. Most the time it’s the social media proof which decides the reputation of the blogger and brings more potential customers to the site.

  29. i think showing off your social counts and other numbers do make people go crazy over your site stats. Least we can say this for newbies, they check your website and refer other to check your website so they can discuss about how this got such or anything else.

    people say it is not so evident but what they do, they believe on lists solely made on alexa ranks and google pageranks to check the top 10 websites in any field. 🙂

    As someone has said, 80% of success lies in showing off, i think with that theory you are very right 🙂

  30. Thanks Miriam, I know you would understand the value. 🙂

  31. Thanks Carly, Great minds think alike. 😉
    Are You Adddicted to a Number?

  32. Simple math Tim 😉

  33. Thanks Joe, simple psychology I guess.

  34. Thanks Paul, I get caught up in a post like this and didn’t want everyone to think that the numbers are the end all – be all of things. We definitely don’t want to chase the numbers but earning them helps big time.

  35. Social proof is a way to get the trust of the readers as well as the subscriptions to the newsletter. You have certainly hit the bull\’s eye with this post. A big thanks to you for sharing the information.

  36. I wasn’t aware that one can check fake twitter followers. It sure will be good to have more real people and hopefully they don’t follow 1000s of other people as my tweet will be lost. I see so many twitter account acting like robots. I like your final note, especially your advice on not getting fascinated with number. That’s especially true when a blog is new and the traffic gets a long time to come by while building the brand.

  37. A couple of things Purbita….

    One of the concepts of social proof, showing the proof, is it helps influence more sharing.

    As far as Twitter, Facebook and the other networks, I think 10% isn’t anything to dismiss; that’s well worth the few seconds effort. The two biggest factors to consider for increasing quality traffic from those shares is following REAL and targeted people and actually interacting with them.

  38. I’m glad you liked it Ron, we get a winner in there every now and then. 😉

  39. I’m not paying you for that comment Scott. lol

  40. Sure Himanshu, newsletter subs, feed subscribers, comments, social shares, followers, you name it.

  41. I can understand your point Apollo, but I we at least need the action buttons to encourage the shares, even if we leave the number (bubbles) off for a bit. The same with other proof, such as newsletter opt-ins – we want a form even if we don’t display the numbers. I do think it’s a mistake to remove the comment numbers though, some things just make us look pretty shallow and everyone sees right through that; just like removing the dates – it’s a bad move, in my opinion.

  42. Thanks Reginald, I’m famous and don’t mind showing it. 😉

  43. I’m not sure I follow you Martin. More specific in what way?

  44. It’s true Enstine, buying fake followers, comments, likes and other forms of proof is very deceptive and destroys our reputation and that’s where authority starts – reputation.

  45. I thought about adding case studies in the post Narender, but it was going pretty long as it was but there are some pretty compelling reasons with real supporting data out there.

  46. I think of it as a supplement more than an alternative Ankit but we shouldn’t rely on any single form of traffic, or social site for that matter.

  47. I think it plays a minor role Himanshu but I don’t think it’s the biggest factor, not even close. We build our reputations with living proof, not social proof; by doing the right thing in business and even our personal lives.

  48. A lot of that will depend on the niche Hemu, most people have no idea what PageRank or Alexa is, much less what’s good and bad.

  49. Absolutely Chang, great content can be found all over the net, not just in the top blogs. In fact, I’d argue that content quality dropped on many many of the blogs that got very popular; not all, but many of them.

  50. I’m glad you liked it Anushha.

  51. Thank you Brian for this interesting post,
    I enjoyed this post allot, and i love the idea of using the concept online.
    after all it is only logical that people are more likely to do business with you if there are clear indicators that other people are also doing business with you.

    All the points you presented are very encouraging, but how can we tell if the social proof numbers are genuine ? a normal user wouldn’t know, after all the social proof is only at a psychological state.
    so why should we not cheat ?
    i think it is worth it to buy some social proof!
    Many thanks, and Best Regards.

  52. Hello #KIWK member 🙂 I had never heard of it referred to as “Social Proof.” However, I have noticed the trend that, not only on my blog, but also Facebook or Twitter, the more interaction others have with a post, the more future interaction it gets. It’s almost like a snowball. I also use FeedBlitz and love that you have the option of putting how many comments a blog post has right in your newsletter feed. It DOES seem to encourage people to talk about it.

  53. hi Brian
    nice article but important is not that how much social sharing in post but how much unique visitors and visit that post and after reading that post how much user are subscribe to website. thanks for sharing.

  54. Nice info regarding social proof and I have learned many new things which I didn’t know through this tutorial. Definitely a recommended tutorial for all webmasters like us.

  55. Hmm social proof hey.

    I think that mine has just took a huge drop as yesterday I moved my blog over to a new domain name.

    I had built my alexa rank to 200,000 or so over 2 months from 15 million and now currently is unranked because I moved my blog so you see for me it’s just numbers and I know that I can build it back up anyway.

    At the end of the day as a blogger all I wish to do is provide value for others and yes get compensated for it, like you say many can become fixated on those numbers but at the end of the day that’s all they are.

    Another great write up Brian!
    – Phillip

  56. The idea of using social proof is one of the most important things I have learned in the past year. Most product (such as software) landing pages use social proof as one of the few things on the page. I guess the only problem is when you DON’T have the social proof to back it up!

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