Social Proof for Lawyers
Today’s consumers play a unique version of “follow the leader” when it comes to choosing products and services to purchase. It’s called “social proof,” and the value of social proof for lawyers cannot be overstated. To combat uncertainty, consumers mimic other consumers and join the herd by choosing products approved of by their peers – especially online. The crowd is the leader they follow. In other versions of social proof, the leader might be a celebrity, an expert, friends, or a perceived “winner.” Social proof is the commercialization of Millennial-embraced FOMO (fear of missing out). By creating a marketing strategy that leverages social proof, law firms can reap the benefits of this social phenomenon.
Wikipedia and others define social proof this way:
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people copy the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
The term “social proof” was coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The concept is also known as informational social influence. According to Cialdini, “we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.” Social proof is really coming into its own in marketing circles, especially with the rise of social media and its overwhelming influence on consumer behavior and decision making.
Social Proof for Lawyers and Purchasing Decisions
When consumers are uncertain, stressed, or fearful, they look to their peers for cues about what actions to take. Clearly, most people looking for a lawyer could be considered “stressed or fearful,” and many are also “uncertain.” Social proof is a type of conformity in the face of uncertainty. Consumers incorporate the opinions of others when they feel uncertain about their own judgment.
Because most consumers don’t know much about the law or how to choose an attorney, they look for social proof that they’re selecting the right law firm. In essence, they choose the same attorney that everyone else is choosing. Rather than relying on their own knowledge, intuition or research, they look to peers for guidance. They soothe themselves by joining like-minded people who they believe have valuable insight. The more people in the crowd, the more powerful the social proof.
Assumptions Made by Uncertain Consumers
There are certain assumptions that uncertain consumers make when they’re trying to choose a product or service to buy. These assumptions include:
- Other people must know a lot more about this than I do.
- There is wisdom in the crowd.
- There is safety in the herd.
- I don’t want to appear alien or alone in a social environment.
With this information in mind, lawyers can market themselves as a valuable, endorsed, and crowd-approved choice. This is attractive to conforming social media-savvy consumers.
The Data of Social Proof
Consider these statistics about how often consumers look to their peers and experts for reassurance that they’re making the right decision:
- 40% of consumers say that they have purchased a product/service because it was used by an influencer. (AdWeek)
- Testimonials can increase sales page conversions by as much as 34%. (VWO)
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 49% of people rely on recommendations from influencers on Twitter. (AdWeek)
- Trust badges significantly increase social proof.
- Web pages with customer reviews are 5 times more likely to convert a user into a purchaser.
- Placing the logos of business customers on your website can increase conversions by as much as 400%.
What Does This Mean for Lawyer Marketing?
There are several tactics lawyers can use to leverage social proof in their favor. Most of these tactics cost little or no money. By displaying this information on your website and in marketing collateral, you can build your social proof.
Displaying testimonials from satisfied clients is one of the best ways to employ social proof. Keep these things in mind when asking for and utilizing client testimonials:
- Focus on different features in each testimonial. One testimonial may focus on attorney communication, another on the dollar amount of a settlement, another on the compassion and care shown by your staff.
- Keep testimonials brief but relatable.
- Trust Badges & Logos
Visual cues are important in social proof. This means any colorful graphic that conveys trust and/or celebrity is valuable. Several legal organizations issue trust badges when you become certified or join, such as SuperLawyers and others.
- Consider displaying trust badges from legal organizations on your law firm website.
- If you have corporate or recognizable clients, consider displaying their logo or likeness on your website.
- Numbers and Data
Any numbers and data you can find that show your law firm’s success and credibility can build your social proof. These can include:
- Dollar amounts of settlements and jury awards
- Total number of hours you’ve spent in the courtroom
- Cumulative years of experience of your law firm partners
- Percentage of cases you’ve won.
When it comes to reviews on third-party websites like Google, Yelp!, Avvo, and others, the more, the better. The bigger the crowd, the more powerful the social proof. If your star rating is anything below 4.3, you need to work hard to get more reviews and get your star rating up.
- Case Studies
Case studies of your firm’s successful settlements and jury awards can be persuasive and influence social proof. Writing short synopses of previous cases and damages won and placing them on your website can cause potential clients to see themselves as winners in your capable hands.
- Featured Speaker
Standing behind a podium and being a featured speaker in front of an audience goes a long way in creating influence among consumers. This visual conveys authority and expertise. If you’ve recently spoken at a legal conference, consider adding a video, picture, or transcript of your comments to your website.
- Guest on a Podcast or TV
Being featured as a legal commentator on a podcast or television also conveys an air of authority and credibility. If you’ve recently joined a podcast host to discuss a legal trend, consider providing a link to the podcast on your website. If you’ve been featured on television, consider adding a screen shot with the news channel’s logo and video link on your website.
- University Credentials & Teaching
University degrees and serving as an adjunct instructor in a college law department both offer the opportunity to show your expertise and display a recognizable university name and logo.
- Social Media
If your law firm doesn’t have an active and ongoing social media campaign, it will be hard to stay competitive in the world of social proof. Younger consumers are all about the wisdom of the crowd and connecting and consuming online. Your social media strategy must be fresh, immediate, and ongoing.
Up Your Game with Social Proof for Lawyers
We live in an environment where uncertain consumers want reassurance that they’re making the right choice when purchasing a product or service. They look to their peers or perceived experts and winners for guidance when making decisions, rather than relying on their own judgment. They will often join a like-minded crowd to avoid anxiety and seek comfort through conformity. The phenomenon of social proof speaks to this need for consumer reassurance. As a lawyer, you can employ visual and online tactics to show that you are a crowd-approved, expertly informed, officially credentialed option for people seeking legal services. Just follow the steps above. If you’d like to learn more about effective strategies for marketing your law firm, the professionals at Gladiator Law Marketing would be glad to chat with you. You can also read what our happy clients have to say about our services. To learn more, give us a call at 888-683-3212.
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