Your “Social Proof” Is Killing Your Credibility – Stop It!

So you’re building out your website, you’ve paid for a designer, you’ve written the content and things are looking good.

You also want to include some “social proof” on your website to show to the world that other people have used your service and that they liked it.

Testimonials and even social media factors (Facebook likes, RSS Subscribers, Tweets etc.) are a great way to build trust online. But only if you’re executing these things well.

And most websites do it horribly.

Stock Photos Are Killing Your Brand

Often times the HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) chimes in and tells the team that they need more “professional” photos. This often leads to stock photography because there may not be a budget left over for a photographer, or time to do a photo shoot.

This is a horrible mistake.

Photos on the website are not about showing “professionalism” first. They are about showing PERSONALITY first. They are meant to showcase the amazing team that you have working for you, or the amazing customers that . They are for showing your company’s humanity. For displaying that you’re not a cold, money hungry company or just a pretty website.

Stock photos do the exact opposite. They show that you’re disinterested. They tell the world that you’re not proud of your team or your customers.

They send the wrong message.

Check out this article for a more in depth look at stock photos using eye tracking.

Bad Example of social proof:

DCMoguls

This site is a so called “Marketing” company. They use stock photos everywhere, and even their testimonials are stock photos. This tells customers that maybe their testimonials aren’t even real (I’m not saying they aren’t, just that stock photos give that impression).

Their website says that they have 49 likes. Big whoop, I know morticians with more likes. Besides, their Facebook page has over 700 likes, why not show those?

Good Example:

stylehatch

Stylehatch.co

No cheesy stock images here. The social sites are subtle above the fold but add value, and the twitter comments at the bottom of the page are prominent enough to anchor the page and remind website skimmers that there is activity going on with this site.

think

Think.eu

Photos of real people (what a concept!). There are a ton of sites out there that think people actually believe in those stock photos on your team page. Think.eu does a VERY good job of adding life and personality to their about us page and turn it into a page that adds value instead of taking up space.

Bottom Line: Use Your Website To Connect

Social proof and photos on your website are not there to fill space. Trying to be “Professional” doesn’t work. Instead try to connect with people. Add life to your website, break the rules of “best practices” even a little. Make sure your website represents the culture of your company.

And most of all: be real. If you can accomplish that, you will have all of the Facebook likes and inbound links that you could ever want.

Give me your thoughts below.

~E

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