Comments, reviews, testimonials, and sales notifications are the strongest social proof components widely used on the internet. They can easily influence the visitors decision to consume content, buy products and services, share their personal information, or make whatever action is required from them. Some sellers will do whatever it takes to push you to buy their offering. And that includes crafting fake social proof signals. It’s crucial to learn how to spot forged materials when dealing with products/services using social proof. Here is a couple of hints:
RepetitionHuman behavior is ruled by patterns. Don’t trust the likes of:
- Repetitive words and synonyms.
- Extensive use of positive words (great, awesome, cool, must have, life saver).
- Repetitive use of specific sentence structures.
- Repetitive use of punctuation (exclamation points more particularly).
- Different writing style, tones, voices.
- When you see typos, grammar errors.
Non verifiable names, companies, and email addressesThe goal behind using social proof is to “prove” that someone in real world bought, uses, or vouches for a specific offering. Removing any way to verify the authenticity of whoever added the input should negate its effect. Don’t trust the likes of:
- Using the first name only and/or an initial of the last name.
- Using non traceable nicknames.
- Company names with no presence on the Internet, no website, no record on public registries.
- Public/free email services.
- Full name, company, and position with a link.
Stock photos or using the same picture under multiple namesWhen the picture is part of the review or testimonial avatar, it should be easily verifiable that it belongs to the same name where it was used. A simple way to verify that is to run a reverse search for the picture using:
PraiseSocial proof’s main goal is to relay the pros, value, and convey usefulness of the business, product, or service. But no product is perfect. And in real world conditions, their must be neutral views and a bunch of opposing ones. Don’t trust the likes of:
- When every single review or testimonial is praising the business, product, or service.
When authoritative names are mentionedYou can see it on visible sections of homepages, landing pages, or sell pages as:
- As seen at.
- Published by.
- Used by.
- Broken links when they are meant to lead to the proof of the endorsement.
- When researching the authoritative source, you can’t find any mention of any type or form of the “claimer”.
- Emailing them and ask questions.
- Reaching out through social media and asking for clarifications about the endorsement.
CommentsOne thing to look for is what kind of commenting system is used. Native and social media commenting systems are easy to control and fake. Don’t trust the likes of:
- Native WordPress comments and any of its variants (CommentLuv, Decomments, wpDiscuz).
- Facebook commenting.
Social signalsSocial signals tricky. They are meant to share with the visitors what actions were performed by other uses. For that part, we are looking for how these actions are recorded and if there is anyway to fake them. Just like comments, self-hosted social proof plugins are easy to control. Don’t trust the likes of:
- WP Real-Time Social-Proof.
- WooCommerce Notifications.
- Proof (getproof.com).
- Fomo (getfomo.com).
Reviews and TestimonialsThe only way to make reviews and testimonials valuable is by using verifiable people on them. Otherwise, chances are very slim for them to be real.
Social MediaBy far the most biased source of information when you need more information or make a buying decision. Social media have two main things to watch out for:
- Fake likes and shares.