Your customers are smart. They know marketers have a stake in the claims you make about a company’s products. If they’re ever going to trust what you have to say, you must give them more than your own word.
That’s what makes social proof so powerful. A third party—whether it’s a customer, industry expert or online influencer—doesn’t have a personal interest in talking up your brand. If they say they like it, it’s because they mean it. That’s persuasive, and the research proves it: 92 percent of customers trust earned media more than ads.
For that reason, marketers and advertisers use social proof all the time. When you start looking for it, you’ll see it everywhere. Web pages that tout the number of customers, visitors and followers as proof of the brand’s influence (see HubSpot’s version below) are social proof, as are testimonials from happy customers on business websites (like Kuno’s below). And most B2B brands you encounter will be using it in the form of case studies as well. These familiar forms of social proof are worth using, but there’s no reason to stop there.
Less Obvious Ways to Put Social Proof to Work in Your Marketing
1. Cultivate relationships with influencers.
Celebrity endorsements are a form of social proof often employed by big B2C brands, but for companies that sell B2B products, seeking out a famous athlete or movie star to help promote your product may not be the best use of funds.
For the B2B audience, the endorsement that really matters is that of industry experts and influencers. And generally speaking, an industry influencer is likely to be much more accessible than, say, George Clooney.
To identify your industry influencers, start by looking at the blogs you read and people you pay attention to on social media. As a member of your industry, you probably already follow some of the top influencers in the space. Add to your list by searching for influencers by keyword in BuzzSumo. You can get a list of the websites and Twitter handles that have the most influence based on factors like followers and page authority.
Once you have your list, work on cultivating a relationship with those influencers. Share their posts, reply to comments they make on social media, and, little by little, work to get on their radar. That way, by the time you get to the point of asking them to get involved with your brand, they already have a reason to know and trust you.
If you do reach that point (and don’t rush it), then having a relationship with influencers can lead to helpful collaborations and other forms of social proof like: