Using celebrities and influential figures to promote products and services is nothing new. Print images and TV adverts featuring famous individuals have been produced by companies for decades.
However, until recently, most of this so-called influencer marketing was being predominantly leveraged by companies operating in B2C markets. More recently, though, we’ve seen a shift occur, with more B2B businesses taking advantage of this powerful marketing tactic.
Today, influencer marketing is particularly applicable because of the power and prevalence of social media for brand awareness. Now, influencers don’t even need to be “celebrities” in the traditional sense of the word – far from it. They simply need to be respected thought leaders in their respective industries and command a loyal following.
This reality has led to the rise of so-called ‘micro’ and ‘middle’ influencers. Micro influencers are individuals with up to 10,000 followers, while middle influencers have up to 250,000.
A study by Twitter and the data analytics firm Annalect found that influencers have a huge impact on people who are in the midst of a buying decision. In the study, nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer.Nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer.Click To Tweet
In fact, these influencers can be more strategically beneficial for brands than celebrities. That’s because a blog or social media post by a person with millions of followers promoting a brand they’ve never mentioned before comes across as disingenuous.
Here are some ideas to help you get your B2B influencer marketing aspirations off the ground:
1. Audience First, Influencers Second
A big mistake many B2B marketers make when looking to partner with influencers is that they get hung up on the influencer side of the equation. The bottom line is that you are looking to utilize an influencer’s standing to get your own message across to their followers.
A better approach is to concentrate on your target market in the first instance and discover which individuals and channels they are following. This will allow you to narrow down potential influencers and partners to the ones who really matter to the people you are trying to reach.
2. Quid Pro Quo
As with most things in life, influencer marketing is very rarely free. In fact, it will almost certainly represent a significant investment in terms of time, if not budget.
Marketers who think they can message an influential individual in their niche and ask a favor from them will be quickly disappointed.
The key is to build and nurture a solid relationship with your potential influencer partners over time. This can start with something as simple as liking and sharing their posts, and making comments that add value to the discussion.
However, influencers do like sharing information about brands they like and respect. A study by Crowdtap found that 49% of influencers are most likely to work with a brand that understands their interests and only approaches them with relevant opportunities that are a fit for their audience.49% of influencers are most likely to work with a brand that understands their interests and only approaches them with relevant opportunities that are a fit for their audience.Click To Tweet
Inviting an influencer into your organization and conducting an interview with them is a great way to strengthen your relationship. If you then publish said interview on your website, there’s a strong chance the influencer will share the post with their followers.
3. Keep Your Ultimate Marketing Message Short & Sweet
Even in the B2B world, marketing messages that are short and sweet are most effective. This is especially true when you are looking to involve influencers in marketing campaigns. Messages that are overly verbose stick out like a sore thumb.
Aim for marketing content that sums up what you and your products/services are all about in a few sentences or less.
4. Nurture Their Ideas
While you want the influencers you partner with to portray the messages that matter to your business, never look to stymie the ideas and creative influence they possess.
Their ideas and suggestions will usually be very valuable and get acted upon, so don’t try and freeze them out of the content development process. Doing so will only lead to them being less inclined to promote your business, products or services. Plus, nobody knows an influencer’s audience better than the influencer themself.
Influencer marketing is a subtle art, but it can be hugely effective using what I would describe as the right circles of trust.