Jul 21, 2022

How to Earn Social Proof

Companies have to learn how to earn Social Proof. Social Proof is the (sub-)conscientious feeling that our decision is socially correct, that if we follow the majority we cannot go wrong.

How to Earn Social Proof

Think about restaurants, have you ever chosen the one with no guests? Probably no. But if you did, have you ever had the feeling that after you sat down, people started to flock in? Even if we do not know all those people, we trust their decisions – the crowd’s decisions. For restaurants, being busy is their Social Proof, for companies it is more complicated.

Social Proof for B2B Companies

For B2C companies, the most obvious forms of social proof are customer reviews. From 2014 to 2021, the percentage of people who consider reviews an essential part of their decision making increased from 86% to 98%. This indicates that as a whole, our society looks for more and more Social Proof before making purchases.

This has always been true, especially in the Business-to-Business market. Here, decisions have always been more well-informed, as they have higher stakes, mistakes have more serious implications. Some forms of Social Proof can be easily translated to the B2B world, as the following examples will illustrate.

Forms of Social Proof

  • Expert Social Proof: A credible expert’s approval from the industry. Either endorsement from a highly regarded personality, or appearance in an influential publication.
  • Celebrity Social Proof: Celebrity endorsement, the more unpaid the better. In B2B this is less of a factor as companies are less interested in Kylie Minogue’s SaaS choices.
  • User Social Proof: Current user’s approval. Reviews and testimonials of current and previous experiences.
  • ‘Crowd Wisdom’ Social Proof: Approval of a large group of people. “all these people cannot be wrong”.
  • ‘Wisdom of Your Friends’: Your friend’s approval, or in the case of B2B your competitors’ and partners’ approval.

Word of Mouth as Social Proof

We already know that in B2B Word-of-Mouth is extremely important. In the above context it is part of User, Crowd Wisdom, and Friend’s Wisdom Social Proof, as it can originate from all three ‘sources’. However due to the nature of B2B relations, testimonials coming from friends has the strongest effect.

This does not mean that B2B can neglect user reviews, or should not strive for thought leadership positioning by earning media appearances. Instead, they should put extra effort in maintaining strong relationships with their clients, who then advocate for them.

In B2B, if a company knows how to manage resources and relations, it already knows how to earn social proof. However, they still need expertly managed Public Relations to get the most out of it.