Buying Social Proof: Can You, Should You?

It’s no secret that social proof can be pure gold for just about any marketing strategy. Using the power of positive opinion to promote whatever it is you do being a sure-fire way of getting your target audience on-board.

As such, it’s hardly surprising that businesses of all sizes all over the world are now regularly buying social proof to boost their credibility and visibility accordingly. It’s an issue we’ve touched upon before, but is nonetheless worth revisiting as the whole thing becomes increasingly prevalent.
The key question being – is it a trend you should consider getting involved in, for the benefit of your own business? Or is the whole concept of buying social proof to be avoided at all costs?

In truth, you’re likely to get an entirely different answer from almost everyone you ask. Just as some swear by these kinds of ‘creative’ processes, others see it as a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that buying social proof has become an everyday tactic for millions of businesses and website owners worldwide – a trend that isn’t about to buck anytime soon.

Can You Buy Social Proof?
Addressing the first of the two questions, the answer is yes – absolutely anyone wishing to do so these days can buy social proof. Pretty much every major and minor social platform alike is now fair-game in the eyes of social sellers.  Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, LinkedIn – whatever platform you use, you can buy social proof in just about any quantity you require.

From followers to likes to downloads to comments and so on, it’s also possible to buy just about any type of social proof you need. What’s more, depending on where you purchase it from and how much you intend to order, social proof can also be surprisingly cheap.
Nevertheless, just because you can buy social proof at a relatively low price doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A consideration which leads on to the next important question:

Should You Buy Social Proof?
In terms of effectiveness, buying certain types of social proof can indeed have the desired effect. On platforms like YouTube for example, buying a whole bunch of views or likes can immediately and permanently transform the perceived value and credibility of any given clip. When you come across a YouTube video that exudes popularity, you’re inherently more likely to take it seriously.

Unfortunately, there’s a distinct downside to buying social proof that augments any and all benefits of doing so. That being, the inevitable risk factor.
For one thing, if the social networks themselves detect that you have purchased social proof, you could be looking at immediate and permanent account suspension or closure. Even if this doesn’t happen, it could become blindingly obvious to your target audience that you have attempted to curry favour through black-hat marketing. In both instances therefore, your reputation and credibility could be damaged beyond repair.
Realistically therefore, it’s entirely up to you as to whether or not you believe it to be a risk worth taking.  

From a logical and professional perspective however, effectively ‘cheating’ your way to popularity on the world’s biggest social platforms doesn’t constitute a safe or savvy strategy.