Street Art - Brunswick West, VIC - September 2016
Business, Wellness

Social Proofing

One of my goals for this year was to take a long, hard look at my communications company, Paper Plane Communications, and make some important decisions about direction, appearance, and how to make big magic happen.

As with most major projects, energy, momentum, and motivation tend to come in bursts. Big at first, and then incrementally smaller thereafter–particularly if you let a pretty little thing called life get in the way. And so, for the past few months I’ve been a communications consultant without a website. Sacrilege, I know.

The reason behind my business facelift was simple: as I looked around at the virtual ecosystem I’d created, I realised that while things weren’t broken–in fact, they’d been ticking along quite nicely–they were on the verge of becoming stale. The solution? Pivot

So here I am, up to my eyeballs in my own website copy for a change, surrounded by business development blogs, marketing strategy guides, and HTML. I am a walking business buzz word.

A quick boo through any Website 101 article will preach the importance of social proof. This is a fancy way of saying ‘street cred.’ If someone thinks you’re legit, and they say as much, someone else is more likely to think you’re legit, too. (I should teach a business class.)

With websites, there are a few major players in the social proofing game: testimonials and case or success stories. But this isn’t a Website 101 article, so what’s my point?

Well, somewhere between Draft #3 and Draft #33 of my website, I found myself wondering: why do we limit social proof to our professional lives? Why aren’t we asking for personal social proof, too? Forget constructive criticism–let’s give constructive congratulation a go.

This is breaking new ground for me, you guys. I’ve always been one to shrug off compliments, edging awkwardly out of the room to avoid the crippling discomfort I feel when someone tries to say something nice about me. But lately I’ve tried in earnest to embrace Jess the Good, the Great, and the Gorgeous, and I recommend you all do the same. I’ve learned that it takes significantly more effort to refuse a compliment than it does to accept it, and it takes a brave soul to ask for feedback, no matter whether it’s your website or your personality.

So here’s your homework: ask someone you know–someone you trust–to write a testimonial for you, not as their copywriter or accountant or nutritionist, but as their friend. And then pay those beautiful words forward!


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