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Social Proof & Influence Must Be Cultivated to Enhance Brand Identity

Social Proof & Influence

Today's fast-paced digital world has created a marketplace filled with show-me customers that place high values on social proof and influence. Modern marketing campaigns need to be dynamic enough to integrate these necessities into their strategy to best engage, appeal and convert those customers into sales that drive the bottom line.

Integrating powerful examples of social influence into such strategies is not as simple as paying a celebrity to hold up a product and smile for the camera. Instead, cultivating positive ratings and reviews and other forms of social proof that can focus a customer base on the benefits of a product or service within a realistic context is essential to finding success in a competitive environment.

Ratings and Reviews: A Primer

The undeniable potency of social influence can be counterintuitive. Although consumers have generally become more doubtful towards brand identities and messages, the influence of ratings and reviews offered by perfect strangers within an anonymous digital environment continue to grow in power. Whether that social influence is accurate or not is secondary to the impact it has on ROI. In essence, social influence defines a brand identity within the public domain.

The Importance of Social Influence

To quantify the importance of social influence, a recent study found that 88 percent of consumers now place a significant amount of weight in the ratings and reviews of any given product or service despite the fact that such feedback is unsolicited and effectively anonymous.

Obviously, these statistics only bolster the notion that companies must foster and maintain positive ratings and reviews in order to enhance their brand image and loyalty in a splintered marketplace that always seems to view businesses from a furrowed brow.

Mind Brand Trajectories

Ratings and reviews do not live in a vacuum. They are dynamic and exhibit the same ebb and flow that you see in other facets of commerce. In other words, tracking social influence isn't so much about where a company stands within the public's eye today but the direction it's heading into the future.

The most effective marketing strategies are about creating momentum. In the specific case of social influence, that momentum is measured from the public's perspective, tracking a brand's trajectory to gauge trends and direction within the market. The trajectory of a company's ratings and reviews can significantly improve its ability to monitor that ebb and flow of brand identity, providing insight on the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.

Yelp: The King of Social Influence

Most companies have at least a peripheral knowledge of Yelp and how powerful its user ratings and reviews can be. However, contrary to popular belief, businesses are in no way helpless to the unflinching whims of the Yelp gods. Getting comfortable with the Yelp filter software is critical to maintaining as positive a review base as possible.

Yelp’s filter automatically segregates significantly outlying reviews as well as those from users with low activity. While this feature can help with singular negative reviews, it can also damage a brand if a positive review was to meet the same fate. For that reason, it is in a company's best interest to constantly monitor those segregated reviews and reach out to users who left positive feedback that was removed by the filter. Such communication might inspire that user to become more active on the platform. Company employees might even want to "friend" the user on Yelp to increase their activity and boost the chances of their reviews clearing the platform's filter.

No Room for Passivity

Companies that choose to take no action on sources of social influences in the digital landscape are allowing the hand of fate to control their destiny. Like it or not, maintaining positive social influence has become a critical component to being successful in the digital marketplace.

Businesses that are active participants in their brand identity are best posed to successfully compete in a crowded marketplace. Be deliberate, have a game plan, and constantly monitor sources of social influence to take control of that critical brand identity.

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Vera Fischer

By Vera Fischer

The visionary of 97 Degrees West for more than thirteen years, Vera has served as the CEO and President since 2004. During Vera’s tenure, the agency has achieved steady growth while surviving both economic recessions in Austin, Texas. Vera began her advertising career at GSD&M where she worked on accounts: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Houston Rockets, Dollar Rent-A-Car, Pearl Vision, SeaWorld and DoubleTree Hotels. Her next stop was the nationally recognized T3 known as “The Think Tank.” While at T3, Vera spearheaded the Dell Computers launch of the Preferred Accounts Division and lead national projects for the ESL and Enterprise Divisions. Other notable accounts included Quintiles Oncology, Austin Lyric Opera and St. David’s Hospital. In 2001, Vera left the agency world to embark on the client side as Director of Marketing for Forgent Networks, the software spin-off of VTEL video conferencing. Vera managed an annual multi-million dollar marketing budget, developed online lead generation programs, managed the inside sales team and consistently delivered high-quality MQLs to the sales team. In 2004, after a company wide re-org, Vera was laid off while on maternity leave. Within the day, she founded her agency, 97 Degrees West. Vera’s weekly podcast entitled, “System Execution”, launched in mid-2016 with notable guests like Ari Weinzweig, Jeff Smith, Gary Bizzo, Dr. Alan Pitt, and other business and thought leaders. Vera is the first woman to host a podcast devoted to systems and processes of successful companies. She is quickly becoming one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic of execution Vera is a member of the Austin University Area Rotary Club, an advisory board member for the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Texas State University and a Mentor at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. Vera is completing her Master’s in Strategic Communications at Texas State University in May 2018.