Influencer marketing is not a new concept. Regardless of which social media platform a user is interacting with, they are likely engaging with this method of marketing every day.
For business to consumer (B2C) brands, influencers are a no-brainer and it’s clear this method of marketing provides a valuable opportunity to engage with target audiences. However, there is a common belief that influencer marketing cannot drum up the same value for business to business (B2B) brands. For this reason, many B2B businesses don’t consider utilizing this strategy, which can lead to missed opportunities.
What is B2B influencer marketing?
At a fundamental level, an influencer is someone who can motivate an audience, often to endorse a brand or offering. Influencer marketing focuses on employing the right individuals that will inspire your business’ target audience and potential customers to consider your brand.
When it comes to generating brand interest, individuals are more likely to take action based on recommendations from a third-party, especially if it is a perceived trusted source, and in the B2B landscape, this stands true.
The foundation of a B2B influencer campaign
Step one: The influencer
When selecting a B2B influencer, the follower count and engagement rate do not hold as much importance as they may for B2C influencers. Credibility is a crucial factor in identifying the right influencer to promote your brand message.
The first step in creating a B2B influencer campaign is to identify key thought leaders in a specific niche.
This niche should align with the industry your business operates within. Whether your business is operating in fintech, cybersecurity, human resource or virtually any other industry, with enough digging there will likely be influencers that fit your business niche, and if they fit your niche, their audience will align with your targets.
In the B2B landscape, influencer campaigns are often focused on educating the audience. For this to be communicated authentically to your target audience, the influencer should be well established among the audience and well-connected in the industry. When selecting an influencer, consider looking into brand advocates, adjacent industry experts and analysts, news reporters, podcast hosts or bloggers. These are often individuals that already hold the attention and credibility of your business’ customer base.
Step Two: The platform
A valuable public relations or marketing campaign is rooted in engaging with the right audience, and that stands true for an influencer campaign. If your customer base is other businesses, then your target audience is high-level decision-makers or decision-makers within a particular business function. As a result, to engage your audience when they are primed for making business decisions, LinkedIn will likely serve as the most valuable platform to do so. As the largest online professional network around the world, LinkedIn is fundamentally B2B-centric. Built for business networking, LinkedIn is the social media site where professional relationships are established, and business is done.
It’s important to note, audiences are in bubbles less and less, and business decision-makers are likely utilizing all social media platforms. So, while platforms such as TikTok and Instagram often aren’t as valuable to B2B brands, they should not be forgotten.
Step Three: The preparation
Engaging the audience in a way that converts to customers ultimately comes down to proper execution. Before getting an influencer to develop the content, campaign objectives and the key messages that will drive the content should be communicated. Objectives help guide what you want your audience to feel and do when exposed to the messages and the messages are the main points of information the audience should hear and remember.
Whether promoting an industry insight report or a new business offering, influencers will provide a valuable opportunity to engage with your business’ target audience effectively and authentically. Once this foundation has been laid, the influencer will be prepared to publish meaningful content that will generate valuable results for your brand.
One of the most important elements to consider before executing an influencer campaign is to engage a team of experts that can help guide and manage the many moving pieces. Doing so will ensure your business campaign achieves success while taking the burden off your team.
As an agency serving largely B2B businesses, we are committed to providing our clients with innovative tactics that are founded upon industry insight. We embrace B2B influencer campaigns and when suited, encourage our clients to do so as well.