Social Proof: Your Audience On Twitter and Other Networks

by Jeffrey M. Welch

Check out the Twiterversity guide for more.

Being new on Twitter can be a real disadvantage. You may have heard of the concept of “Social Proof”, if you haven’t heard the term you will recognize it when you read the explanation. Social proof is the concept that you are important because others think you are important, you are an expert because others think you are an expert, you are funny because others think you are funny, etc. In other words, your credibility comes from the people that surround you and interact with you.

Think back to your experiences in high school. Social structure and status were likely very important, popularity mattered. Not to everyone, but for some it was one of the main reasons they showed up each day. On social media you have to do certain things to establish yourself, some are easier to control than others. While I am using Twitter in my examples here, you will find the behavior of followers will be similar on other networks. Use the tools that they provide to establish yourself.

Your first task in demonstrating social proof is to make yourself look like a real person, with real interests.  On Twitter, you do this by posting a real picture of yourself and writing a relevant bio that describes your interests and a brief highlight of your background. When people look for fake accounts on Twitter, clue #1 and #2 are a missing profile pic and no bio. You will not be followed by others if these are blank. The next thing they look for are Tweetless users. If you have created a profile, but posted no content, users will not really believe you are real, and therefore will not follow you back. Some fake accounts have caught onto this and have begun to post seemingly real content, but often times you can quickly tell it isn’t a real person because they are all random quotes or just don’t seem to have a theme.

At the early stages of a Twitter account it is hard to get momentum. Your ultimate goal is to build  a useful account that will be a resource that you can utilize indefinitely. So how do you continue bulking up your social proof?
  • Regularly post useful and interesting content
  • If you blog, post links to each of your blog entries
  • begin to gradually follow other users that are interested in similar things
  • If you find that users you are following are posting things that just do not interest you, unfollow them quickly
  • Make your tweets on theme (“on message”: if you don’t have a message reevaluate what you are using Twitter for)

Read More about Social Proof
These two articles have some interesting background to share about the concepts of social proof, although they are directed toward marketing. I kind of like to read about marketing, I think because I am very conscious of being “sold to” and honestly do not like it. So this stuff adds to my understanding of when I am being marketed to, and the tricks that are being thrown at me. For most people, “Wisdom of the Crowds” and “Wisdom of your Friends”, type four and five in both articles are the most useful to pay attention to.

Check out the Twiterversity guide.