Social proof—every business wants needs it.
Using the words and actions of others to bolster the profile of your business has become essential. Cultivating social proof allows you to show prospects that your existing customers are happy.
B2C companies have this a bit easier than B2B companies. To illustrate this, let's look at the U.S. as world numbers are hard to determine with any kind of accuracy. There are over 329 million people in the U.S. and more than 32.5 million businesses—with just over 75% of those having zero employees.
It stands to reason B2B companies would have a fewer number of potential customers in a given market segment. Then the list of credible names to extract social proof from shrinks a lot.
Here's what you need to know about B2B social proof and the best ways to implement it for your business.
Why You Need Social Proof
Some people may be skeptical of the impact that B2B social proof can have compared to its consumer-facing counterpart. After all, consumers are bombarded with a lot more options for various products and services, and generally, don't have the time to do a lot of in-depth research before making a choice.
As a result, a well-placed piece of social proof often serves as a substitute in these circumstances. This credible name says they did the research, so you don't have to, right?
By comparison, B2B professionals are generally a lot more versed in their niche. This is where the myth of B2B not needing social proof comes in. Yes, a B2B professional is less likely to use social proof as a substitute for their own due diligence.
However, that doesn't mean they will completely pass over social proof. Quite the opposite. Smart B2B professionals are often very trend-conscious in their industry.
Often, two or more businesses may have similar offerings. If a B2B professional sees that one business is supported by a respected figure in the industry, they may determine it has more growth potential. As a result, the business with the social proof wins the customer.
What Sets B2B Social Proof Apart
Okay, social proof is important to both B2C and B2b. Does this mean they're one and the same? Definitely not!
As an example, let's say you want to find the best oven cleaner for your home. In this case, the advice of anyone you trust who owns an oven is a credible source.
Now, imagine being a business owner wanting to outsource some of their customer service work and needing to find a reputable company to do it. The list of people that you would trust for advice is a lot smaller.
This is the fundamental difference between B2C and B2B social proof. You need to find people who your B2B audience will actually want to hear from.
This generally includes:
- Other business professionals in their field
- General thought leaders in the industry
- Business professionals from different fields, but with similar challenges
Sourcing people for social proof from these categories can be difficult without a formal plan. There are a few ways you can go about this, depending on the size of your campaign:
- Reaching out to long-term clients and asking them directly
- Including a request for testimonials on post-conversion materials
- Adding a request for testimonials on existing testimonials
Generally, a combination of the three is the best way to go.
In some cases, you may need to provide some sort of incentive for people to participate in your B2B social proof program. There are a number of ways you can go about this—such as a discount on set services or products if they are willing to participate or provide a review.
Since you're dealing with B2B professionals, things like being entered into a raffle won't necessarily work as well. However, landing that ideal name to provide a testimonial can be well worth any financial loss you incur.
Additional Challenges to B2B Testimonials
A lot of B2C social proof can be as simple as customers mentioning your product on areas like social media sites and forums. This tactic is less effective for B2B social proof as there's little way to verify that you are one of those valuable social proof sources on those platforms. As a result, you need to focus your efforts on areas like LinkedIn or YouTube, where it's easier to showcase those facts.
There are a few options you can choose from when building social proof on Linkedin. One of the best things you should do is get in the habit of following influencers in your business niche.
This is useful for more than just general knowledge. As you read and comment on their content, you may start to catch the influencer's eye. This sets the stage for potentially asking them to provide some social proof for your business. However, for B2B, you need to prove your business is of value first.
The good news about this is that Linkedin is also a great way to spread your own content as well—proving you are a source of industry information as well as your product or service.
The work it takes to build B2B social proof continues with reinforcing it.
Reinforcing Your B2B Social Proof
How exactly do you communicate social proof for a B2B audience?
Ultimately, you want to treat it like other B2B marketing, and focus less on emotional appeal and more on cold, hard logic. Statistics are your friend.
The goal here is to try and make the statistics quicker to interpret. It all boils down to being able to prove that your services or product can help other companies. Charts and images can help distill the information but beware of over-doing it.
Focus and style also play important parts in B2B social proof. A piece of B2B marketing or social media content that reads as too "B2C" not only hurts your business's credibility, but provides no value to your audience.
The good news is that video testimonials avoid both issues. Who better to know what B2B professionals respond to than others in the field? An interview guided by an expert question set will give you the perfect piece of video content for your audience.
What makes video testimonial content uniquely suited for B2B?
A variety of reasons but let's drill down on these core properties:
- Content delivery - Utilizing video to deliver content allows you to tell a story with statistics visually and audibly. It's nearly impossible to combine statistics with a meaningful narrative in text alone—especially if there's a character limit. This is typically ineffective and can lead to a frustrating experience for those consuming the material. Video tells a comprehensive story with less effort.
- The visual element - Video easily provides more bang for you buck here. Sure, you can add infographics and images to your written social proof. But ultimately, video still wins with superior storytelling in combination with the visuals.
- Credibility. It's difficult to communicate exactly how much your average B2B customer, associates video content with a strong business. Video content shows added effort and investment, even in situations when it's not that difficult to put together. This makes people naturally drawn to work with your business.
Follow these core properties and take your B2B social proof to the next level with testimonial videos.