The Proof You Need: Social Proof’s Role in Marketing Your Law Firm
What sounds more appealing? The lively restaurant with pages of great Yelp reviews or the empty bistro not even listed on Google Maps. Both could have delicious food, but if you’re like most people, you’d choose to put your name in at the first place.
You see, people trust the opinion of others. It’s why customer reviews, case studies and testimonials are such an effective way to distinguish your firm’s brand from the competition. But why are these tactics so successful? It can be explained by social proof, the theory that people’s thoughts and actions are shaped by the others around them.
The proof is in the pudding
“Social proof is the concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.”
To better understand social proof, let’s journey back to the 1960s. On a crowded New York City sidewalk, Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman and Lawrence Berkowitz conducted a famous experiment where they hired actors to stand outside and look at the sky. As more actors began to look up, more passersby followed suit. There was nothing up there to see, but that didn’t stop people from copying the behavior of others standing next to them.
It’s human nature – we emulate who we’re surrounded by, even if at times it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And in times of uncertainty, this kind of behavior is intensified. It’s typical for people to look to others for guidance and empathy if they’re unsure of next steps. No matter the severity of the situation – looking for the best café on vacation or seeking out a competent divorce attorney – people assume others know better than them and are willing to trust an endorsement.
That’s why 68 percent of legal consumers want to read reviews from former clients and 42 percent consider recommendations a top priority, according to the 2018 FindLaw U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey. In a business where people are often feeling uneasy, you need to arm clients with the proof you can handle the job. Here’s how:
Earn your symbolic checkmark: If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen the blue checkmark next to celebrity, expert and influencer profiles that verify an account is legitimate. It’s a fast and easy way to make sure the content you’re interacting with online is authentic. As a law firm, it’s your responsibility to earn that symbolic checkmark, letting people know you’re a trusted source of information.
Tip: Start by promoting any media mentions or publicity from experts and influencers you’ve received. And make sure to prominently display awards and badges your firm has earned. For example, if you’ve been selected to a Super Lawyers or Rising Stars list, displaying the badge on your website positions you as a respected expert in your industry.
Feel the power in numbers:
Showing off your clout by having a large number of people endorse your firm is a surefire way to establish credibility and entice prospects. Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself a bit. Have a large customer base or a lot of online reviews? Let people know. It’s a powerful way to give a positive first impression to potential customers.
Tip: Share milestones on your website or social media to commemorate achievements. An example of a shareable milestone would be serving a certain number of clients or celebrating your firm’s anniversary. It provides validation to viewers that you’re established and there for the long haul.
Take it from the horse’s mouth:
A study done by Nielsen discovered 92 percent of consumers around the world trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. That’s an impressive stat your firm shouldn’t ignore. Capitalize on the desire for a personal stamp of approval by sharing testimonials from past clients. A collection of real stories and experiences people can draw from can have a major impact on buying decisions.
Tip: Make sure the testimonials you’re sharing are short and to the point. And if you’re granted permission, don’t forget to legitimize them by adding a photo of the client. According to CXL, testimonials that have photos are significantly more effective at generating viewer recall.
Whichever way you look at it, the evidence is clear. People care about, and listen to, what others are saying. Once you begin to understand the power of social proof, you can start finding ways to integrate it into your law firm’s marketing strategy. It will go a long way in being noticed and heard by the right people when they’re needing you most.