Everyone likes to feel like they’ve made a good decision, whether it’s choosing a job, a product, or a service. That’s why we can’t help copying the actions of our peers. It builds our confidence that we are making the right choice.
Even the most independent thinkers will, consciously or unconsciously, be influenced by the buying habits of others. This is how I excuse some of the questionable fashion choices I made in my youth – and why social proof and user-generated content are proving to be incredibly effective marketing strategies.
Revolutionizing social proof
Business-to-consumer (B2C) brands should be credited for driving these trending strategies. They understand that sharing content from happy customers helps them attract new ones.
They leaned into the voice of their customers with an inclusive approach to reviews and UGC. Multi-billion dollar beauty brand Fenty Beauty uses its Instagram bio to urge customers to ‘tag’ us #FENTYBEAUTY‘ and frequently uses client content on its feed. Hilton Hotels does the same with its #hiltonforthestay hashtag.
Others use reviews and UGC to drive conversions in e-commerce journeys. Australian fashion brand Petal and Pup encourages customers to leave reviews, have a “top rated” section of their website, and display these customer reviews and photographs on product pages.
And it’s not just digital usage. Who could forget Apple’s “shot on an iphone” billboards?
But while B2C marketers continue to find success in this space, it’s still underutilized in the business-to-business (B2B) space. It’s understandable – it was traditionally expensive and logistically complex – but it’s a huge missed opportunity. Although SaaS companies and advertising agencies strive to provide impeccable customer service, invest in loyalty and success initiatives to ensure customer satisfaction, they fail to leverage this success with social proof. .
Maybe it’s because B2B customer reviews have a reputation for being deadly boring. Videos of participants awkwardly reading scripts under overly bright studio lights. Or worse, a block of text on a website that everyone is scrolling through.
But there are plenty of great ways to make your customer’s voice heard in your marketing content. Testimonials can be made just as relevant, personalized and impactful as all your other marketing strategies. We just have to look to the B2C space for inspiration.
Raise the bar with social proof
Deliver relevance at scale
Although you may create content for a handful of clients, the reality is that they are all unique. Each will have their own unique challenges, reservations, and conversion triggers. This makes spending all your time and marketing budget on creating a single testimonial a risk. However, it is polished and professionally produced. If it fails to convince the person looking at it, it is simply not effective.
B2C marketers often rely on lofi UGC to boost their content channels, helping them collect large volumes of social proof. Widen your net. Try to collect as many diverse testimonials as possible, even if it’s not the big budget productions you’re used to. Because the more testimonials you can collect, the more potential you have to provide social proof that addresses all of a prospect’s issues and concerns. Relevance trumps polish.
Mimic social trends
If you’re sharing your social proof on social media, leaning into trends that already exist in that space will help your content resonate. We know there is a move towards more authentic content, from Instagram to TikTok and more recently the emergence of BeReal.
The social public is thirsty for reality. Leave the stuffy infomercial-style testimonial videos behind and focus on more authentic videos. Offer both scale and authenticity by having clients record their testimonials at home, rather than in a studio. The psychology of social proof relies on the ability to relate to someone else. So seeing someone in their natural environment, sharing their story in their own words, can be a powerful tool of persuasion.
With so many free editing tools available, you can always add engaging cuts or even music in post-production.
Amplify their content
Sometimes you’ll collect social proof just to fuel sales conversations. But if you’re able to get your customers’ permission to share their testimonials publicly, then there’s a lot more to be gained.
B2C companies will often populate their feeds or websites with UGC. They make this effective, often free content work hard. But it’s not just profitability that B2B marketers can earn. There is a powerful network effect. If you share content that highlights a customer on social media, chances are they’ll share it. In turn, their connections will see it and it is themselves that this social proof is most likely to convert. The closer we are to someone, the more seriously we are likely to take their recommendations. So don’t miss this free amplification or the opportunity to see social proof at work in all its glory.
B2B is known for its sophisticated automation flows that set the bar for personalized sales, onboarding, and product training experiences. By integrating social proof, they can further boost these strategies with the biggest lever for growth a company has: its customers.
Gary Zurnamer is the co-founder of video collection platform, Vouch.