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Social proof for authors

What is “social proof” and why should you care about it?

“Social proof” is marketer-speak for public evidence that people won’t be wasting their money if they buy your book.

That evidence comes from reader reviews on retail sites that include Amazon and Goodreads, testimonials and endorsements on your website, and book information shares on social media sites.

When positioning yourself as a topic authority, it extends beyond book feedback to how often people share content you create and what they say about it, too.

Social proof for authors is important

Because there are now so many opportunities for readers to provide public feedback, this kind of social proof has become important.

For example, I loved my friend Laura Laing’s book, Math for Writers: Tell a Better Story, Get Published, Make More Money, so after I “blurbed” it, I shared the news on social networking sites. In each case, I shared an image of my blurb and included a link to more information about the book.

social proof for authors 2
To help provide the author with social proof, I shared my blurb on the back of “Math for Writers” with my social networks.

I do this all the time for books I like. I hope it helps add to that book’s “social proof.”

Social proof checklist

Social proof for authors takes many forms. It’s the:

  • Reader reviews on retail sites.
  • Media/trade/literary reviews of your book written by review professionals.
  • Comments on your blog posts that tell others that people are paying attention to what you’re saying.
  • Number of times the information on your website (most likely your blog posts) gets shared by others.
  • Opt-in newsletter mailing list size.
  • Testimonials from fans.
  • Endorsements from people who influence your target audience.
  • View counts on your videos.
  • Number of connections you have in social media networks.
  • Interviews you’ve done with the press and others.
  • Badges you can add to your site if your book has won an award.

It can be a little overwhelming, can’t it?

Unfortunately, when you’re marketing a book, you’re running a little business. There are lots of pieces to that little business — and doing as much as you can to reassure customers with social proof is one of those pieces that has an impact.

Fortunately, you can generate and leverage social proof pretty easily.

8 easy ways to present social proof

Here are eight easy-to-implement ideas for showcasing your social proof :

1. Provide content that people will want to share.

Maybe it’s images that people will want to Pin on Pintere  it’s informational blog posts. It could be a killer excerpt from your book, or a free download. But before you can get people talking publicly about your book and information related to it, you have to give them something worth talking about.

2. Add a “share” plugin to your blog.

This shows visitors that others are reading and sharing your comments. I love how mine (AddThis) floats alongside the post so you can share content with your networks whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end of a post.

3. Make sure your share plugin shows numbers.

There’s no social proof when we don’t know how many people have “liked” your information on Facebook or tweeted it. Social proof needs numbers.

4. Gather and add testimonials to your website.

When someone writes to tell you how much they liked your book, ask for permission to quote them on your site. If you don’t have unsolicited testimonials, reach out to those you know have read your book and ask for them.

5. Ask a question at the end of each blog post.

This helps generate comments and discussion. Reply to each comment because it’s the courteous and appropriate thing to do, but also because it increases the total number of comments.

6. Make sure comments on your blog can be seen by others.

I’ve visited several author blogs recently where the comments are hidden. What’s the point of that? Don’t make people jump through hoops to comment (I’ve seen that, too) or to read the comments of others.

7. Use your social networks to drive the traffic to your site.

The more people who know about and see your content, the more likely  you are to benefit from shares and comments.

8. Provide social proof to other authors.

We reap what we sow. Comment on the content of other sites, share their information, pin their pics. Those authors will repay the favor.

What’s your next step?

You’re probably doing some of this already and just need to add a plugin, make a few changes, or make this more of a priority. Is there anything more you can do?

It’s something I work on constantly. Here’s a quick look at some of the things I do — and I’m sure there’s lots of room for improvement:

  • I share links to my blog posts on social media using my site’s social sharing bar. (Finding a reliable blog plug-in for social sharing is an ongoing struggle, though. I’ve had to replace mine at least twice, and still have glitches from time to time. Got any suggestions?)
  • When my content gets shared on Twitter, I thank the poster and re-tweet as often as I can without being obnoxious.
  • I respond to all blog comments so that people providing that type of social proof know how much I appreciate their thoughts and opinions.
  • If someone emails me about how much they like my site, newsletter, or one of my products, I ask if I can use the feedback as a testimonial.
  • When I’m a guest on someone’s blog or podcast, I share the link on social media. That helps others see that I’m open to sharing what I know while it helps send visitors to my host’s site.

I need to get better at sharing milestones that could include an unusually high number of Pinterest pin shares, or steady growth of the Build Book Buzz Facebook book marketing group.

For you, it might be achieving a certain number of reader reviews, the number of times your book has been added to shelves on Goodreads, or hitting a target number of book sales or downloads.

Examine what you’re doing now; assess what you can add or improve. Social proof is necessary and important. Make sure you’re demonstrating it.

What social proof do you provide now on your website? What do you plan to add?

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in September 2012. It has been updated and expanded.)

Tip of the Month

I like to share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.

social proof for authors 3For the lovely month of June, it’s the printable Pocket Goddess Gratitude Diary from Leonie Dawson, one of my favorite digital product creators.

When things get a little crazy (as they did for me late last week . . . ), I need to slow down, take a deep breath, and count my blessings. Maybe you do, too?

I thought that if this neat little gift will help me, it might help you, too! Don’t wait to download and start using your copy!

Subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter and get the free special report, “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources,” immediately!

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  1. Great information on being social proof! It is obvious that you have it figured out that those who succeed do so because they support and help out others. Thanks for the tips and reminders. We all need to stay focused on what really matters and how to support each other.

  2. Good points.

    It becomes a little more difficult when a particular site doesn’t have a blog.

    I don’t believe blogs are appropriate for all types of author sites – see here for reasonings http://bit.ly/XHiOPG) but in those cases I guess you just focus more effort on what you *can* do (sharing, Pinterest, testimonials)

    There is also some debate as to whether letting people know you have no newsletter followers makes them want to be first, or simply puts them off joining altogether 😉
    Thankfully many social WordPress plugins and mailing lists have the option to display or hide the counters.

    1. Thanks, Eric. You’re right — counters that always say “0” don’t necessarily inspire action. I like having them on my blog share items, but I don’t recommend using them alongside newsletter sign-up/subscriber forms when you’re starting from 0.


  3. I love reading what you have to share! Thank you for taking your time for your followers.

    Jeannine Stevenson

    1. Thank you so much for such a kind message, Jeannine! It means a lot to me to know that this information is helpful! I appreciate the feedback. : )


  4. Once again Sandra this is a good article.
    My website and facebook indicate to me that people are viewing the sites, but unfortunately neither reflect that in counters for others to see the interest.
    Have shared on twitter. Best wishes Suzanne

    1. Thanks so much, Suzanne! I’m so glad it was helpful, and thanks for sharing the link.


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