Paying For Social Proof

Why I Don’t Pay for Social Proof, and Why You Shouldn’t Either

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

As the popularity of the YouTube channel increases, so do the emails I get about buying social proof. Essentially, these are ads trying to get me to buy more subscribers, followers, likes and watch time. Is it a good idea to invest in these services?

Not for what I’m trying to accomplish.

You see, it’s more about the engagement than the numbers. You can have a million subscribers on your YouTube channel, but it doesn’t matter if no one watches a single video or clicks an affiliate link.
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Why Social Proof Matters

In a nutshell, social proof is when people will follow the actions of others if perceived they know what they’re doing. If someone sees an account on Twitter with more than 10,000 followers, he or she is more likely to follow that account than one with less than 100.

This is because there is a perceived notion that the 10k account is more socially acceptable. And once an account hits a certain level of popularity, companies will pay for endorsements and ads across those profiles.

In other words, appearing popular on social media can make you money.

It’s a herd mentality that has a lot of basis in psychological theory. And why social media influencers will make more money in a week than I’ll see all year.

However, it takes more than just numbers to be successful in today’s market. If you’re an influencer and are not sending enough traffic to a certain company’s website, there’s a good chance the contract will get pulled.

How is Paying for Social Proof Bad?

Social Media Followers

A lot of organizations out there will tout how having massive numbers of followers or subscribers can open the doors for becoming a well-paid influencer. They’ll sell you so many likes, followers and subscribers for a fee depending on how many you want.

Unfortunately, this does not bode well for actual engagement. As I mentioned earlier, you can have a million people following your profile, but it means very little if no one is interacting with your content.

Besides, bots don’t buy goods.

A Lack of Engagement

Artificially inflating your social numbers to look good can pique someone’s interest for social proof. But it’s the engagement factor businesses are looking at now to determine if an influencer is right for them.

This means your audience is more likely to buy a product.

A lack of engagement, from a business perspective, means your social account is nothing worth investing in or considering. If you don’t have an audience to sell to, no one will want to throw money at you to advertise a product.

Case 1: Streaming on Twitch

An extremely popular thing on Twitch is the infamous, “follow 4 follow” comment. This is when one person will follow the account of another if it’s reciprocal.

So, you follow someone who is going to follow you back.

Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed hundreds of Twitch streamers gain hundreds of “followers” only to have one or two people watching every time they go live. And if you’re trying to sell something or generate donations, one or two viewers aren’t going to make it happen.

Well, unless you happen to attract Mr Beast, who winds up donating thousands of dollars to you. But, you’d have a better chance at winning the Power Ball lottery.

In this instance, very few, if any, of the followers you gain will actually care to watch your live stream. Sometimes you’ll come across a few, but not enough to make it worthwhile as a way to make money.

Case 2: Videos on YouTube

Recently, I watched a training video in which a YouTuber had more than 1.3k subscribers but still wasn’t monetized by Adsense. When looking at his channel, none of his videos had more than 30 views.

In other words, he didn’t have the 4,000 hours of watch time within a 12-month period to trigger YouTube to include him in the Partner Program.

You see, you can pay all kinds of money to artificially grow your numbers. But if no one is watching the content, YouTube nor businesses, will care to give you money for ads or sponsorships.

Being a social influencer means you can “influence” someone to buy something or take a certain action. If no one is watching the content, you’re not influencing people.

Case 3: No Visitors from Social Media

A great way to see if your social proof is helping grow your blog’s visitor numbers is to keep an eye on it in Google Analytics. From the “Acquisition” tab on the left, you can see a “Social Overview” from where traffic is coming.

If you paid for followers on Twitter and see one or two visits to your site, then was it really worth the money? The same can be said about any social platform, really.

How a lot of these “follower sellers” perform is by having thousands of fake accounts set up to artificially grow your audience. But, these fake accounts usually do not interact with your content. So if you share a blog post, none of them will click the link.

Others will pay people to follow your account for a bit of the money. But very few will care about your post to click the link and visit your site.

In this instance, it’s all about the audience and being able to connect with real people to encourage them to visit a blog, buy a product, watch a video or otherwise engage with your posts.
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Personal Preference

In the end, it really comes down to personal preference. For me, it’s all about creating content people want to watch or read. I want someone to follow or subscribe to my social media profiles because they like what I deliver.

Not because it’s the perceived socially acceptable thing to do.

I get more satisfaction out of knowing I’ve helped people or that someone enjoys something I produce than if I were to make a ton of money.

For me, it’s all about building a focused audience as they are the ones who motivate me to continue. Sure, it’ll take longer to reach certain levels of “popularity.” But the audience is more receptive to what I create.

4 Ways to Improve Your Social Proof

Social Media Accounts

If you want to build a strong following and become more likely to be seen as a social influencer, you need to focus on how you approach social media. It’s no longer something you can just set and forget.

It’s one thing to automatically share content across all platforms with tools like Buffer or Hootsuite. But it’s engaging the audience that really makes social proof work for you.

1. Create Better Content

First, and foremost, create better content. I’ve seen this hundreds of times, especially on YouTube, when creators complain about no one reading or watching material. If you’re not creating something people want to absorb, you’re not going to attract an audience.

And I’m not just talking about video or sound quality.

After recording a video, honestly ask yourself, “What is someone going to get out of this?” Is it entertaining or informative enough to capture the attention of others?

2. Focus More on Your Target Audience

Knowing what your target audience wants is imperative to boost your social proof. This requires a bit of brainstorming and data analysis of your content. Because it’s your target audience who are going to determine if your blog, YouTube channel or influencer career is successful.

For example, I focus on people who want to learn freelance writing and blogging techniques. And yes, social proof is part of this aspect as it relates to marketing yourself as a writer or blogger.

That is my target audience. So, I create content I think those people want to know. And if you got to this point, then technically you are my target audience.

It’s not about what you want to create, but more of what your audience wants you to create.

3. Be More Interactive on Social Media

One thing I learned over the last month is how effective social interaction is for driving traffic. You need to do more than just post links to your blog or YouTube videos.

You need to be social on social media.

Simply by being more interactive and chatting with people on Twitter, I grew visitation by more than 330% over the past month. And from what I can tell based on recent numbers, this is just the tip of a very big iceberg.

I’m not saying that you need to dedicate your entire day to chat with people on Twitter. But spending an hour interacting can take your account extremely far.

There’s a reason why many big businesses hire social media people to maintain accounts. This is because it’s immensely beneficial to engage the audience.

4. Learn and Expand Your Marketing

And lastly, learn how to market yourself better and expand. People who follow you on Twitter may not do so on Facebook. You may find your target audience is more active on Instagram or Pinterest.

Without learning a bit of marketing and how it will impact your blog, YouTube channel or influencer status, you might miss out on a ton of opportunities.

Remember, effort dictates success.

Paying for Social Proof is Not the Way to Go

I don’t pay for social proof because I can’t afford to do so. For me, it’s all about building a receptive audience. Because if no one is engaged with my content, then it doesn’t matter how many followers or subs I have.

Build yourself into the professional your target audience wants.

Michael Brockbank
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