How Negative Social Proof Is Slowly
Killing Your Conversion Rates

Johnathan Dane
Johnathan Dane

Did you know that 57-70% of all B2B buying decisions are made even before a person talks to a sales rep?

This means that everything that’s out there in regards to your social media presence, the size of your company, your blog, your design etc. all help influence (for the good and the bad) whether somebody will sign up for your services and/or buy your product.

So in a sense, the more opportunities you give a prospect to judge you, the bigger your chances are of disappointing them.

And with higher disappointment, come lower conversion rates. 

But what does all this have to do with negative social proof?

Let me explain:

Remember when everyone jumped on the social media train?

It forced you to use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or as Paul Jarvis said: InstaYoSnapWhatever“. Even if it made absolutely no sense for your business to use those platforms.

And because you see successful companies doing it (who by the way, have strong, dedicated resources), you think it makes perfect sense for you to take the same route.

But what happens?

Your beginning intentions are strong, but eventually you fall short.

And falling short shouldn’t just be a shrug of the shoulders for you, it’s actually much more devastating than that.

This is just the beginning. 

There are multitudes of things you might never thought about, that are slowly crippling your conversion rates and your business.

Here’s why:

People Judge You Quickly, Very Quickly

We wrote a blog post on the hottest startup landing pages and what they have in common.

But what we also covered is how low our attention span is (8 seconds to be exact) and how quickly we judge a website or landing page design.

The result?

It takes us only 50 milliseconds to visually feel excitement, or to feel hindrance.

Ultimately deciding whether we trust or don’t trust the website or landing page we’re on.

landing page judgement

That’s some scary fast judgement!

And that’s just on a first impression basis.

[Tweet “You’re not the only solution. Poor first impressions lead to lost revenue”]

But what happens when you get someones attention, and they start researching your business?

They judge if your blog is kept up to date, if you show your actual faces on your About Us page, and who’s working for you on your company LinkedIn profile.

And you should care about this because 94% of all B2B buyers do that type of heavy research before buying.

This is where it’s your job to continually delight your potential customers, “the judges” so to speak.

conversion rate judging

All your inspection channels need to be on point – image source

If anything gets in the way of that delight and adds more friction, then it’s negative social proof.

Your blog’s job is to attract readers by giving value that hopefully turns into customers. But without a blog update in the last six months, it looks like no one’s working at your company.

Your About Us page’s job is to show me who you truly are. But that multi-cultural stock photo you have of gorgeous people laughing in pant suits makes everything look fake.

Your social media channels are there to strengthen your brand and gain new fans. But your outrageous amount of followers and little to zero engagement looks like you took shortcuts.

How do I know?

Because we’ve been there.

We even tried taking shortcuts here at KlientBoost by using a Twitter tool to automatically favorite people’s Tweets in hopes of gaining new followers.

It worked great, but felt like we “cheated”. We didn’t earn some of those followers like we should have.

twitter favorites

Just look at that outrageous amount of favorites.

If you don’t intend on actually using the marketing channels we’re about to cover, then do yourself and your potential customers a favor.

Get rid of them.

Your time is better spent on the things you know that makes you money. If you keep these negative social proof traps alive, then you’re also hurting your own chances of greater performance.

Let’s dive in:

You’re Not Keeping Your Blog Up To Date

Michael Hyatt
says it best with this quote:

“You haven’t posted in weeks. Or months. Like so many would-be bloggers,
you started well, but you quit too early.

I’m sure you have legitimate reasons, but I am tired of waiting.
Nobody cares. Post or perish.”

And while this is more for why people decide to stop reading your blog, the same thing applies when you use your blog to convince people to reach out to you.

Someone may have come from another marketing channel (other than your blog), landed on your landing page, decided that not enough info was there, go to your website to learn more, check out your blog, and then get disappointed from the infrequency of your posts.

Like Kelly Kranz over on the HubSpot blog mentions:

“If you are not publishing frequently and consistently,
then your audience is going to go elsewhere
and your blog will become a content fatality.”

Frequent blog posting can showcase social shares and blog comments. These are positive social proofs.

blog social shares

Are other people vouching for you?

Infrequent blog posting and no social shares leads to negative social proof.

Does your competitor do a better job with their social proof and offer the same service? Then I’m gonna go with them.

These are considered trust signals that impress brand new visitors, and it’ll help increase that trust overtime as a visitor may take longer than a single day to convert.

You’re Not Showing Who You Are On Your “About Us” Page

There’s been a ton of writing on how your About Us page can be a true moment of conversion.

This “make or break” judgement point that can truly get your visitors to love you, if you aren’t afraid of showing a little personality.

If your About Us page is full of board-room-meeting, pie-graph charting, hand-shaking photos, then there’s a good chance you’re not fooling anyone.

That’s not you.

[Tweet “Honest photos = honest company. Make your “About Us” page a conversion focus”]

Back in the day, that kind of stuff worked. It was impressive that you had that headset team, ready to answer all calls coming through.

stock photo conversion rates

Damn. Those were the good ol’ days.

But when everyone else does it, it kinda, fades.

It just doesn’t work anymore.

If your “About Us” page is like this, then there’s a really good chance it’s killing your conversions.

Instead of having it be a center of negative social proof, remove it, or…

Better advice?

Be you. 

If you work out of that basement and you’re a one-man band, then tell people that.

If you deep down think you’re a fun person/company, then let that shine. Seriously.

If you don’t, your visitors will sniff it out – and your chance for beating those conversion objections have slipped.

Even better advice?

Be you, but make your “About Us” page about them, the visitors.

The truth is, your visitors don’t give a crap about who you are unless you show how you can make them better.

If you really want to take it a step further, identify the personality and the ways your audience writes and talks.

You stand a better chance of converting people from your About Us page if you can trigger visitors’ mirror neurons to fire. These neurons work to evoke positive emotion when your visitors can relate to a story or testimonial that speaks to their pain.

See, our About Us page is good, but it’s not great.

We know we can do better by having our intro paragraph focus more about the visitor and less about the fluff we think the visitor wants to know.

Here’s what I propose we change it to:

This could be your game changer.

A pay-per-click advertising agency that actually delivers.

You need scrappiness. You need creativity. You need your PPC agency to have a sense of urgency.
You shouldn’t be patient. You should expect fast results.

That’s what we deliver.

Let us know your goals by sending an email to right now.

You may just be one email away from kicking some serious booty.

What do you think?

Too hard of sell right?

I agree. But please know that we’re working on it and understand the importance of it.

Your Social Media Streams Are Dryer Than The State of California

We’ve been conditioned so long that every. single. business. needs to have a social media presence.

There are agencies out there that only sell social media services to dentists. That alone blows my mind.

Why do dentists, roofers, and plumbers need social media profiles? There’s nothing sexy, fun, or shareworthy about those industries.

When it comes to establishing credibility, the biggest source of social proof could be your social media following.

But what happens when your follower amounts are sky-high, and it’s nothing but crickets when you post an update?

social media engagement

That’s sarcasm. Nobody cares about your post – image source

Tim Soulo had an excellent post on why you only really need 100 true followers.

In it, he speaks about how it’s not really the total amount of fans you have, but more so, the active “die-hard” fans you have.

When it comes to negative social proof on social media, you have to understand that people are smarter than ever before.

This is partly due to something called the Flynn Effect – that tells us that people have gotten wiser over time due to their media consumption (sounds like it would be the opposite right?)

People are now quicker and faster at telling fakes from the real deal.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Visual Website Optimizer covered an A/B test where removing low value social proofs actually improved conversion rates for our agency.

If your social media accounts haven’t posted something new for a while, or your followers amounts are too high to be true, or your engagement is really low, then there’s a good chance your social media profiles have the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for.

They’re actually turning people away, rather than impressing.


Get Rid of Social Proof That Has Turned Negative

If you don’t have an impressive ability to turn out quality content on your blog on a regular basis, then maybe you shouldn’t blog.

Actually, hide your blog completely.

If you don’t have an impressive social media following, then maybe you shouldn’t have your social share buttons near critical conversion moments.

If you don’t want to change your About Us page to show more “human-ness”, then give it a try and see what happens to your conversion rates.

What do you have to lose?

We often get too carried away focusing on what landing page tests to run, when in fact, removing or changing something on our sites will improve performance just as much.

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