As we consult with our technology clients, we are often asked, “where should I invest my content marketing dollars?” In this blog, we’ve already shared how to create compelling content and how to use that content to rise above the noise during the buyer journey. In this blog post, we’ll talk about a specific type of content proven to persuade and educate prospects. What is it? Social Proof. That’s a phrase that can mean different things to different people, so we’ll dive into exactly how we define it and how to use it within your content marketing portfolio.
We believe social proof means being able to show your audience that your product/company is well-liked, well-respected, and well-run. After all, no one operates in a silo – your company is part of an ecosystem and part of your job is to show your prospects how you play in the ecosystem. In addition, we’re social animals and other people’s opinions matter to us, whether we know it or not. If you’ve ever been on the fence purchasing something but then decided to buy it after reading glowing reviews online, you’ve experienced the power of social proof for yourself. Lastly, everyone wants to be reassured that the gamble they are about to make – spending money with your company – will yield the expected benefits. Knowing that other customers have received those benefits goes a long way in allaying any purchasing concerns.
The great thing about social proof is that there are many forms you can use and there are many ways you can use them. Let’s take a look.
The best known form is the customer testimonial. This could include the use of logos, positive client quotes, case studies, and testimonials on your website (which you’ll also use in your marketing efforts), as well as clients speaking on your behalf at conferences or in referral calls to other prospects. It also includes positive customer reviews on review sites. The customer testimonial can be difficult to attain, and many companies find that making it part of the contractual language helps facilitate “the ask” when the time is right, which is when the customer is benefiting from your solution, not before. Other forms of testimonials – such as quotes from partners on why your company has been terrific to work with or short videos from employees on why it’s a great place to work – can also be used like customer testimonials. Never give up an opportunity to have someone say something nice on your behalf, and when they do, make sure you do everything you can to make it known.
Expert opinion is another sought-after form of social proof. In the technology industry, this is usually in the form of industry analyst reports, sponsored or custom research, influencer posts, and product reviews. It could also be quotes and research from financial analysts. While the line between paid and unpaid opinion can sometimes be thin, it’s the quality of the firm/people behind that opinion that really counts. In other words, be sure you are doing business with reputable analysts, researchers, and trade publications.
Followers are an important social proof signal in terms of their number and activity, which is why it is important to cultivate a strong base of advocates. No one wants to be seen to “like” a company with 11 followers – so get your numbers up by inviting prospects, customers, partners, suppliers, employees, and other audiences to follow you on social media. Be sure to follow them first to encourage a reciprocal follow/like. Ensure consistent activity with interactive questions, quizzes, check-ins, and other forms of two-way posts. We’ve seen many companies use their social media channels as a one-way promotional monologue, when in reality, they are best used as mediums for two-way conversations. And because of that, you’ll need to think through how you monitor/control the dialogue on your social channels. For example, if you have a Facebook page and have set it to accept posts from anyone, you must monitor constantly to ensure the conversation does not get out of control – online bickering, while common, is the kind of social proof you don’t want.
Third-party seals of approval can be powerful forms of social proof. If your company has been certified, verified, or is an official member of an industry group, include that information on the website and in your marketing materials. You’ll often see this on consumer sites as Better Business Bureau ratings and security seals on payment pages. For technology companies, that could be certified partnerships, memberships in the steering committee of a prestigious industry group, or industry awards and recognition, among other things.
Lastly, celebrity endorsements are often used in consumer marketing, not as much in technology marketing – but having said that, think about the impact that a top-notch VC firm or a well-known individual investor can have on your reputation. It’s the technology equivalent of a celebrity endorsement and can make a huge difference in how your company is perceived. Make hay out of every endorsement you have, whether that be investors, partners, early users, long-time users, or well-known bloggers.
So that’s a quick overview of how to use social proof, the most powerful piece of content you’ll ever produce. We’d love to show you how AimPoint Group’s expertise and experience can help create social proof for your business, whether that’s case studies, customer interviews, award applications, or a whole program. Contact us today for a free strategy session; together we’ll look at your needs and map the best path forward.