Social Actions Beat Social Proof

Over the last week or so I thought I would try a little experiment … after all, social media and its immediacy allows us to test and learn simply and easily, right?

I wanted to test whether different phrasings would impact click through rates from social media sites to destination addresses.

Now, usually I either share a link without introduction, or explain that I was “reading” an article with its link.

Now we know that 90% of people visiting your website will just “read” or “lurk”, that 9% will modify, comment or add to your content and that only 1% will drive activity. The 90-9-1 Principle is what Jakob Nielsen calls Participation Inequality.

So, in effect, announcing that I was “reading” an article planted me firmly in the world of the “lurker”.

But the concept of social proof – whereby one’s actions shapes the actions of those around us – suggests that my “reading” of an article would open the door to others who were also of the “lurking mindset”. So what happens if we re-shape that interaction? What if I was “commenting on” rather than simply “reading”? What if I was “pre-ordering”? How are these “social actions” playing out and are they a different order of magnitude?

Based on the analytics coming out of it seems that there is an impact – and it is in the 20%-25% range. Taking out the spikes for particularly hot topics I normally average about 150-180 clicks per link. But using the “commenting on” prefix I am regularly hitting higher levels of between 200-230 clicks. Over the coming days I will try variations on this theme:

  • Tweeting at different times of day
  • Re-tweeting the same link at different times
  • Using different social actions

The cool thing is, that a little attention to your choice of language and the framing of an outcome can have a positive impact. And I have a feeling that it may well have an impact on the types of audiences (participants rather than lurkers) that you are reaching. Now, THAT would be brilliant.