A guy walks into a party
When attending a social event, it’s easy to see that you have a choice between two actions: dance, or retreat to a chair. If you were asked to make that choice right now, you would likely pry for more information. Your first question: “What’s the scene – what is everyone else doing?” You'd want to know if you’re attending a dinner party at your friend’s house, or if you're rockin’ out at a local event venue.
When faced with ambiguous situations, people tend to look to the conduct of others to determine appropriate behavior for themselves. This is the premise of “social proof” (also known as social validation) -- and not surprisingly, this concept is directly transferable to consumer behavior in the business world.
B2B encounters social proof
When your prospects think about your business, they’re also wondering, “What’s the scene?” To find out, they look for brand and product approval on social and customer review sites. While B2C industries have been keeping up with social validation for years, more recently B2B consumers have also started to scour the net for brand approval indicators.
How can you use social proof to drive revenue and retain customers?
Get 'Em Talking
Use Case #1: Forum / Training
Objective: Grow satisfaction. Teach customers how to be successful in using your product, and show them new and ingenious use cases.
Veteran customers use community forums to explain specific product features that are unclear to other users. Think of this as user-generated “how-to” (text or video) and remember that you will need to be involved in the moderation of forum advice.
Company demo or training sessions often involve multiple users spanning several companies. Oftentimes, just seeing that other companies are jazzed about the product and willing to take the time to learn more about it, provides a feeling of validation within the group.
Use Case #2: Reviews / Testimonials
Objective: Use social media as a justification platform.
Customers who praise a product or company on review sites will justify future customers’ purchases.
Pull quotes from customer review sites, or even direct communications between customers and your sales team (with permission), to highlight customer experiences. Be sure to add a face to a name whenever possible, as pictures increase credibility.
Use Case #3: Social
Objective: Let communications via social media highlight success rates and drive product/feature adoption.
A customer’s praise for your product or service on a social channel can easily be “retweeted” or ”liked.” Keep an eye on people who are mentioning you so you can play the retweet/like game too.
Customers may follow your company or product page, and even comment on your posts. Use this opportunity to post valuable content that showcases customer success.
Bottom line, when a customer expresses satisfaction and success using your product, make sure the world is watching. Social proof has taught us that customers with needs similar to circulating success stories will infer that they will derive the same success and satisfaction from your products.