A little experiment involving social proof

@Kevin | Social

One of my favorite concepts that ties directly into social media is the idea of social proof. Social proof can come in many forms on the social web but the form I want to talk about today is subscribers and followers.

I always find it interesting that at a certain point people are more apt to follow or assign value to another person based on the audience or perceived audience they have.  Sometimes the audience isn’t really there, the numbers are gamed, or an icon altered but people see the alleged status of the other person and often ignore their content. In the past I have looked at Twitter rather informally and the impact that my Twitter account growth has had on my RSS feed growth. (Granted in looking at a correlation between the two we are making a lot of assumptions.)

There have been a handful of people, specifically on Twitter, that have built a large audience of over 100K followers only to be revealed as charlatans, frauds, felons, and thieves. While they have never really shown that they actually know anything and often has displayed complete ignorance when it comes to some basic social media principles they still retain a large and growing following because of the social proof around their account. (I guess they have proven that they can gain a lot of Twitter followers… An expert that does not make.) The crowd isn’t exactly all that wise.

So I wanted to run a little experiment starting after I return from Blog World Expo. (Maybe start it a week after that.) I want to add the icons of feed subscribers and Twitter followers to this site and see it that has an impact on my overall numbers. Additionally I want to track to see if having these icons on the site draws anymore attention using Crazy Egg to create a heat map.

Again this is hardly scientific but I think we will be able to see a general impact. I won’t be able to say, “I without a doubt gained 200 more subscribers because I had a subscriber count on my site.” But I think I will be able to say that overall it trended higher than usual, giving some support to the idea of social proof’s impact. I sat down and established a baseline of how many people I gain on average per day on Twitter and the rate at which people subscribe to my blog. Also since the relaunch of the site with a new design I have been looking at how people interact with the social media buttons on the side of the page.

Per week I gain 324 Twitter followers and 42 blog subscribers.

So we should have some fun with this. I am going to give away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to the each person that predicts the amount of Twitter users I will gain and the amount of RSS subscribers I gain over the two weeks of this little experiment, if any at all. (One gift certificate for Twitter and one for RSS.) Don’t forget to take into account the average number I gain per week. (I trust you will all be on the honor system and not try to game the results.)

Leave your guess in the post comments below. This should be at least somewhat interesting and at least a little bit of fun.