Every day on your way to work you likely pass by at least one restaurant that has never appealed to you for one reason or another. Maybe it is for the simple fact that the sign out front hasn’t done enough to get you in the door. But imagine arriving at work and immediately hearing two people talking about how great the food and service are at the restaurant. Imagine being surprised because you never thought that restaurant would be any good. Imagine arriving home later and receiving a call from a friend who asks you if you want to try the restaurant because they, too, have heard about how great the food is. Suddenly you can’t wait to check out the restaurant! That is the power of social validation.
Now think about a slightly different scenario. In this one you are in desperate need of a new garden hose, as your hose has sprung more leaks than a politician’s plan to fix the budget deficit. Doing what all good geeks do, you say “Screw the home supply store , I’ll buy one off the Internet!” You go to Google and with a couple of keystrokes and a click, you find yourself at GardenHoseGuruExtravaganza.com. The site is superbly designed and they offer free, next-day air shipping to any place in the world with the purchase of a new garden hose for only $19.85. The price, the free next-day air shipping, it just seems a little too good to be true. On the checkout page where it asks for your credit card info, your suspicion gets the better of you and you decide to keep looking.
Now, imagine the same scenario, but at the checkout page where it asks for your credit card information, it also shows you GardenHoseGuruExtravaganza.com’s Facebook ‘Like’ Box that lists 985 “Likes.” Since Facebook always tries to show you someone you know in the ‘Like’ Box, you notice that Bob, your next door neighbor also “likes” GardenHoseGuruExtravaganza.com. You think to yourself that 984 people plus Bob can’t be wrong, so you complete the payment page and make your purchase. That is the power of social validation on the web.
Trust is a major issue on the web. Gaining a potential customer’s trust may require them to come to your site several times before they sign up. If you have a great looking website, that is well written and organized well, and provides them with the social validation that allays any fears they have about doing business with you, you’ll have a much more successful website.