As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Nothing could be more accurate when it comes to publicity or social media. While talking about your product or services is an important part of your story, the ability to back up your claims with proof is what creates trust and encourages people into your community and sales process.
How much proof you need will largely depend on the level of investment required in whatever you’re offering. A low-cost digital guide or book may only need a couple of customer quotes, while an enterprise software system in the range of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars will require detailed written case studies along with reference calls or even a site visit to an existing customer.
Most organizations take the time to gather customer stories to help inform and educate buyers at each stage of the buying cycle. Yet, customer stories are often overlooked when it comes to publicity and social media.
Here are some tangible ways to support your PR and social media strategy.
Written Case Studies
A formal, written case study can offer many opportunities for you to share tangible proof of the quality and benefits of your products or services. Of course, make sure to get approval from the client to share any specifics.
For media, written case studies can act as great background to help shape a story or as the entire story itself. Being able to showcase how customers are actually using your products or services with measurable results can help set you apart.
To share this content via social media, consider:
- Pulling out the most impactful quotes and sharing them on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
- Creating a visual of a compelling result or quote from the case study.
- Uploading case studies onto SlideShare.
- Taking a series of case studies and creating a social media campaign showcasing your top customers.
Video Case Studies
If you have the budget and resources, creating videos of your customers sharing their stories and results is extremely compelling. If you have an event where customers gather, such as a user group or conference, schedule time to interview clients for videos when you are together.
Videos can be a great tool for your sales team and to showcase on your website, but they also offer reporters or bloggers a compelling piece of multimedia content. These can serve as assets to round out any stories they may be working on.
Ensure your organization also creates a YouTube channel so your videos can be easily found and shared. Create a customer success story playlist on YouTube or multiple playlists by theme. If you sell to multiple industries or types of businesses, you can easily create a playlist for each one.
When planning your social media strategy, be sure to actively share videos. You can either share the videos in their entirety or work with an editor to create high impact excerpts. These are perfect for sharing on Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Google+.
Work with Your Customer Ambassadors
If your company is doing things right, you will have created a legion of loyal fans. Find ways to identify and actively engage with these customers as they will be more likely to actively share your story and potentially refer you to anyone who will listen.
When it comes to media relations efforts, your customer ambassadors are the perfect people to have speak with media. Customers can provide background, quotes, results and context for stories. Including your best customers in your media relations efforts is a win-win as by putting them in the media limelight you are helping them gain exposure as well.
Customer ambassadors can also become your “street team” for social media when you have a specific campaign or launch. Find ways to include them in your efforts and provide them with social media assets such as images, tweets and other information that they can share. Having your customers spread the word can be a highly effective way to increase your reach via social media and help you reach new audiences.
Customer stories should be treated as a cornerstone of your publicity and social media strategies. Having your CEO talk about your organization is one thing, but having a happy customer talking about their results will always be much more compelling.