To paraphrase the lyrics of many a popular song, you are nobody until you are loved. And though you may disagree with this premise in the real world, it holds great merit in the "virtual one."
In fact, did you know that the amount of folks that "love you," as evidenced by blog followers, FaceBook fans, and Twitter "peeps," is often used by publishers, agents, and potential clients as a success indicator? That's right; these "profiles" are often assessed to evaluate your platform, your influence, your connections, and your writing as a commodity. And for those of us who may lack the time or savvy to indulge in a lot of social media activity (and therefore lack huge followings), it's important to capitalize on the phenomenon of social proof.
I learned the hard way.
Back around 2006, I submitted a book proposal to a New York agent, after many years of penning pieces for noted, national publications, in hopes of representation for a self-help book. She initially expressed great interest in reviewing my work and potentially partnering.
Her rejection (two weeks later), came as follows: "You have obvious talent as a writer. But, not a big enough platform." It served as a harsh reality check.
Back then, I didn't have an active blog, nor any real social media history. And though I've since then gotten "on board," I must admit that I'd still rather write than hang out and make small talk in these popular forums. Which is why understanding the persuasive power of Social Proof has become increasingly
important over the years.
It's a psychological term that comes in many forms, but to put it loosely, it means outside validation that people approve of a person or a product. For example, you're probably more likely to see a movie that's been highly rated by many others, or try a product that has a lot of favorable online reviews. It's all about perceived value, popularity, and conformity.
Copywriter, author and strategist Dean Rieck states that we should "Remember to ask what is the most tangible and relevant way to show how my product or service is popular?"
With this in mind, here are a few creative ways that I've used to establish my success and popularity, in the absence of a huge Twitter count or massive subscriber base. And you can too.
1. Success by Association
Though my articles and blog posts may not be shared at a rate that makes them go "viral," I have name recognition at some of the most popular sites online. With many guest posts and commentary pieces penned at award-winning sites like Pro Blogger, Technorati, Men With Pens, LifeHack, and The Well-Fed Writer, I am able to heighten my visibility and my writing status. It should be noted that these blogs are extremely selective, and require better than average writing skills to make the cut. If you have had a similar experience, make sure to include it in your Bio.
Do you have clients that sing your praises? Have you worked with high-profile people? Use their compliments and quotes on your site to establish your expertise and skills as a reliable service provider. Remember that there is "moni" in testimonials.
3. Awards and Recognition
In 2011, my Blog was chosen as a finalist at Write to Done's Top 10 Writing Blogs, out of more than a thousand entries. It was a pivotal point in my career. That accomplishment helped to garner advertisers, guest post requests, and serious "brownie points" in the blogging community. Not long after, Writing World recognized me with the "Totally Awesome Blog" designation. Boasting more than a million readers, it brought with it the potential of having more sets of eyes than Lens Crafters, and added prestige as well! Award titles are great to add to email signature lines, strategic placement on blogs, and even business cards.
4. Google Ranking
Google has a ranking system that assigns a number of 1-10 to sites based upon their number of inbound quality links, credibility and other factors. After 2 years of blogging, my site ranked a 4 (though these rankings can fluctuate each year that Google revisits its system). Why is this number important? The higher the number, the greater the site's prestige factor. Some bloggers even use this as a barometer to determine which sites to pitch guest posts. Typically, sites ranked a 5 or better are viewed as top-tier in the blogosphere. To check yours, see here: http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php
5. Online Reviews
If you're an author whose book has received favorable ratings and recommendations through sites like Amazon.com or Good Reads, use it as a selling tool to entice future fans and buyers. Post excerpts at your site, or even use it in your promotional materials.
So if you've been a social media recluse like me, don't despair. Used strategically, social proof has the power to impress decision makers, help promote your business, and allow you to work smarter not harder. Use it in 2014 as an integral part of your marketing strategy.
Here's a tool to help you gauge just how much online clout you currently have: