Using Pictures As A Form Of Social Proof

Originally this article was going to be about the power for social proof and how photos can be used to reinforce the effects of this psychological principle.

I was going to tell you that appearing in photos with recognized industry experts or well known figures can actually reflect well on you professionally because some of that expert credibility is transferred to you simply by being associated with that person.

I was going to tell you this because it's useful for influencing your target audience's perception of you. But as I was outlining my thoughts for the article, some other valuable realizations presented themselves in the digital ink blots that are just as important to understand. So, let me share those thoughts with you instead.

Life has a funny way of teaching you things. Take my celebrity blogger photo opportunities at OpenCamp Dallas for example. I had made several opportunities to appear in photos with speakers and celebrity bloggers during the event. Normally, I'm not the poparotsy paparazzi type, but the people I selected to take photos with were individuals who I genuinely respected for their achievements, perspective, and entrepreneurial spirit. And hey, like I said just a moment ago, it doesn't hurt to be seen with as many well known people as possible. So when each moment was appropriate, I spoke up and shamelessly asked each person to take a picture with me.

You may feel very awkward about asking someone to take a picture with you. You may even feel intimidated by the perceived status of the person, or you may feel a little nerdy for asking at all. But over the years, I have found that in situations where time and opportunities are limited, being shy is a big disadvantage.

During OpenCamp, I realized a very obvious truth that I hadn't considered before. Celebrities, no matter who they are, want you to ask them to take a picture. Having their face seen in as many places as possible is an important part of promotion and social proof for them, too. The more places their face shows up, the greater the reenforcement of their celebrity status.

How weird would it be if celebrities walked around asking people to take pictures with them and then asked those people to share the photos with their friends on Facebook and post them on their website's? The politics of the deal would be flipped on its ear.

So the lesson here is don't be shy.

Asking to take photos with people is a winning deal for you both. You're helping to promote their celebrity status by posting their face in more places and you get to borrow a little bit of that credibility for yourself.

Just keep in mind though that beyond the celebrity bit and all the fluff of trying to influence people's perceptions, celebrities are people just like you and me.

To illustrate what I mean, here's how I see the people who were cool enough to snap photos with me. I could easily write a full article about each of them, but I'll limit my thoughts here to just a few key points.

Brian Clark

Brian is the brains behind CopyBlogger, a wildly successful blog that focuses on writing great copy. If you've been on the Internet for more than fifteen minutes, then you've probably been on his site.

Brian has an inspiring story of how he went from practicing law to becoming an online entrepreneur. It's a powerful story of personal transformation and I think his personal background is a big part of what makes CopyBlogger unique. The last time I checked, becoming a lawyer meant you had to work your ass off and that's what it takes to be successful at anything worthwhile.

At OpenCamp, he and I had a chance to discuss Joseph Sugarman's book Advertising Secrets of the Written Word. According to Brian, a lot of the concepts that are discussed in Advertising Secrets came from another book called, Breakthrough Advertising, which was written by Eugene Schwartz. Considering Breakthrough Advertising sells for $800 on Amazon and Advertising Secrets of the Written Word sells for $39.95, I'd say Sugarman's book is a heck of a deal.

I had a chance to hear Brian speak at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas, but I had let the photo opportunity slip by then. So when he spoke at OpenCamp, I made sure to get a photo.

Chris Pirillo

Chris is a pioneer when it comes to blogging and affiliate marketing. He successfully made a business out of blogging back when you could get publicly flamed for even trying to make money from blogging.

He always takes a creative approach to generating affiliate income and he's not afraid to look silly on camera in the process. Chris is a giver who has built a passionate community of raving fans and he continually connects with people through his life-casting and his constant publishing of fresh content.

At OpenCamp, Chris gave a powerful talk about the importance of being yourself first and foremost. He encouraged everyone in the room to consider that as individuals, we all have something unique to offer, and that is ourselves. Running a blog isn't about the tips and tricks or even the technology. What makes the experience truly unique and interesting for everyone is us, being ourselves.

Lorelle Vanfossen

I first met Lorelle at WordCamp Dallas 2008 where she gave one hell of a talk on Power Blogging. Lorelle is "The" WordPress evangelist. Her blog is a wealth of information and she continually works hard to make sure it offers real value all the time. She is fun and outgoing. She treats everyone she meets like they've been her best friend for years, and when you talk with Lorelle you feel like you're the only person in the room. Lorelle is colorful without being crass, and engaging without being overbearing. She wears life like a favorite sweater with holes in the elbows and when she talks, you can hear all the places she's been. She's one of my favorite people.

Aaron Brazell

Aaron is the author of the WordPress Bible. I first met Aaron at WordCamp Dallas 2008 where he gave a session on WordPress Frequently Asked Questions. He shared a lot of insight into WordPress tags and was a very authoritative speaker.

Aaron has a Superman like confidence that he carries with him. From his fashionably worn fedora, to his ability to get to the heart of the conversation and make his point known, he is an interesting character.  Aaron has the spirit of a collector of all things unique. You might say he's a TechnoSailor, collecting interesting things from all his travels. It comes across in his speaking, in his choice of clothes, and in his tweets. He's one cool dude.

So, that's it really. I saw the opportunity to snap a few pics with some extremely interesting people and I took it.

The next time life hands you an opportunity, snap that picture with someone you admire. Then, share it with me in the comments below or tweet me up on Twitter and let me see your picture. I'd love to see who you met.

Charles McKeever

About Charles McKeever

Charles McKeever is the founder of Open Source Marketer, an online marketing and mobile, web development company that helps business owners design, build, and market their businesses' online. Connect with him on one of your favorite social channels.

Want web or mobile development help? Contact Us