When someone mentions influencer marketing, the first idea that probably pops into your mind is brand partnerships with influencers to promote products to customers. Businesses team up mostly with Instagram influencers, create engaging content, and aim to get the attention of their followers. That's how it usually works. Consumers rely on their favorite influencers and trust in their recommendations more than they trust in brands.
But what about B2B marketing? Is there room for influencer marketing in B2B marketing?
Even though it is a less popular method, the use of influencer marketing in B2B marketing methods is rapidly increasing. Businesses have recognized the potential of influencer marketing in the B2B community. B2B brands were not the first ones to take advantage of influencers' powers. While brands were closing sponsorships of thousands of dollars with mega-influencers, businesses in the B2B community were discovering how influencer marketing applies to that. Once they realize that they can also benefit significantly from it, the adventure has begun.
Which Businesses Can Use B2B Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing isn’t reserved for specific niches or industries. Any business can use it to increase their number of business collaborations. Just as in B2C influencer marketing, every brand has its own target audience and every target audience relies on recommendations by the influencer.
As companies are getting accustomed to using influencer marketing, more brands are joining this trend. In 2019, influencer marketing was voted as 4th most popular trend in the B2B community.
In the search of new ways of marketing their services to brands, marketers have found a solution in influencer marketing. The reason why you should give influencer marketing a try is that it is still not as exploited as other marketing methods. Meaning, that it is your chance to differentiate yourself from competitors.
How to Find B2B Influencers for Your Business?
In B2B influencer marketing, finding someone with a huge following base isn't enough. To get the attention of other businesses you need expects. Respected individuals whose name means something in your industry are Kyle Jenner and Selena Gomez of the B2B influencer marketing.
Digital Strategist at Foundation, Ross Simmonds, explained why collaborating with experts helps your business:
When you collaborate with an expert in your field [...] the expert/influencer has a chance to connect with a new audience and you have the opportunity to bring new value/perspective to your existing audience.
If you are ready to explore the benefits of influencer marketing, here are 5 top tips on how you can identify the right experts.
1. Look into Who Influences Your Customers
Do research on businesses and experts who are popular among your customers. Finding out which brands your customers look up to will lead you to the right influencers.
You want to work with influencers whose words will mean something to your customers. It doesn’t matter how much followers they have, what matters the most is that they are respected in your niche.
One of the ways to find those influencers is to check who your customers follow on social media. Focus on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. If a business looks up to another business these are the networks on which they will follow their work.
SocialBook provides a quick tool for businesses to search influencers by industry competitors. You will get the stats and influencer content by entering your competitor's brand name.
Additionally, look for B2B businesses that are in your niche but aren’t your competitors. Together, you can promote each other’s company. They can promote your brand to their customers so that customers can round up their needs.
2. Find Innovative Experts
What can spark attention in any industry is unveiling new trends and fresh ideas. You can be the one who can introduce the best new experts and their innovative projects to the world.
Show your potential customers that you are a business who is always one step forward. Find experts/influencers who want to make a change in their niche and share their plans in an interview, for example.
3. Introduce Influencer to Your Brand
In order for someone to present your company in the best light, they first need to know your company. Don’t dismiss someone as an influencer just because they don’t seem to manage in that role. Help them to understand why your services can be useful and they know how to promote it naturally.
Build your LinkedIn connection network and pitch to the influencers in your industry. Do not send cold DM once you get connected, start with sharing content in your feeds, comment on others' posts and post articles on LinkedIn.
Share with influencer your company's history, services, and goals. When they immerse themselves in your story, they'll know how to recommend your services. Moreover, they'll know where to use their influence for maximum results.
4. Don’t Underestimate Your Employees as Influencers
The company's employees can easily play the role of influencers. Especially if you have some amazing experts in your team. Think about it, who knows your company better than them?
The important aspect is that the content they create is genuine. The audience needs to perceive the content as authentic rather than a part of their job.
Encourage your employees to repost the company's promotional content in their own manner. People who see their posts should recognize their style and not brands.
Overlooking this potential resource of influencer content would be a missed opportunity. Keep in mind that research shows how company-posted content that is re-shared by an employee has more than double the click-through rate that the original post.
5. Great Events Attract Influencers
Informative and engaging events for industry leaders can be a real magnet for influencers. If you have any plans to organize such an event in the future, spread the word, and let the influencers come to you.
For example, Joe Pulizzi’s Content Marketing World and Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing World gather digital influencers without much effort. When the events are good, influencers will want to attend them and will to the promotional organically.
Top 7 B2B Influencer Marketing Strategies
Every marketing campaigns needs specific strategies that will ensure the effectiveness of it. Influencer marketing is no different. Before you plan out your influencer marketing campaign, consider the following strategies.
1. Start with a Simple Campaign
Unlike some social media influencers who live off of sponsored ads, the influencers in B2B are focused on their careers. Therefore, don’t expect from influencer to immediately dedicate a lot of time to your business. Be realistic and start with something small.
Directly discuss with influencers about how much they can be invested in the campaign. Maybe their time doesn’t allow them to be a guest in your podcast but they can answer a few questions for your blog. Remember that they are not experts in influencer marketing so you’ll need to guide them through the process.
2. Share Educational Content
Increase your business's credibility by providing your potential customers with educational content. That education content should be enhanced with influencers' experiences and advice.
The type of educational content you can resort to is:
- Article / Blog
- Tool kits
- Videos on YouTube
You can start to build a YouTube channel for your brand, sharing educational content related to your industry and introducing your product. To educate potential customers with influencer marketing tips and ideas, SocialBook is creating a YouTube channel for both brands and influencers to learn more about how they can benefit from influencer marketing and what they should do.
3. Use Storytelling
Telling your brand’s story and emphasizing its values builds trust in potential customers. Storytelling creates the illusion that you know the people behind the brand personally and helps you trust it more.
Gain leverage by allowing influencers to be the storytellers. They can introduce your brand to the world and attain more customers.
You can also take a different approach and be the storyteller. By sharing stories about your customers and how they used your services, you support their work but also promote your company. American Express’s Love My Store campaign is the perfect example of that. The campaign shared stories of small business owners to talk about their businesses. Through the stories, they raised awareness of AmEx services for small businesses.
4. Publish Case Studies
Case studies provide real data and brands’ experience. Businesses often resort to case studies to learn from other businesses’ mistakes and successes.
Involve experts in a case study and you’ll gain more attention from other brands. That’s what HubSpot did. They published a case study on how to maximize your content ROI but they included Accuranker as a means for achieving that goal. Both parties have something to gain as Hubspot has a source for great content and Accuranker gets credible support for their services.
There's one catch that you need to pay attention to. The influencers you collaborate with on a case study need to be your clients for some time. That is the only way they will have enough experience that testifies the value they got from your services.
5. Use Social Media
Who says that only people can be social media influencers? If you have a customer (a business) that invests a lot in their social media campaigns and has lots of followers, you should consider using influencer marketing in its true form.
Of course, before you ask the brand about the collaboration you need to check whether they have other brands in their list of followers. Narrow down your choice by looking for brands who offer different services in the same niche.
Let’s say that your business sells automation software for startups. Find brands on social media that are popular among startups and young entrepreneurs.
In case you are consistently active on social media, you can post live videos of quick interviews with leading experts in your niche. Even reuse the influencer content you prepared for a different channel. For example, if you plan to post an interview with an expert/influencer on your website, ask them to create a quick introductory video that you can share on your social media.
6. Do an Interview
What makes interviews intriguing and interesting is that people get to hear the exact opinion and thoughts from experts. There are no interpretations and miscommunication. Interviews are a real deal.
The thing about success interviews is that interviewee needs to be good with words. Experts and leaders whose words can motivate and convince you in anything will bring the most attention to your interviews.
By doing interviews with experts, you’ll attract their followers to your website and therefore, introduce them to your work. It’s a nonintrusive way of promoting your brand through influencer marketing.
Dell Technologies know how that is done. They partnered with industry influencers and created useful content through interviews with their experts. This is a win-win situation as they have an informative interview to share and they increased the influence of their internal experts at the same time.
7. Offer a Referral Bonus
Encourage your existing customers to be more talkative about your brand. Motivate them by offering a certain referral bonus for every customer they bring. That will certainly get them to give their best to put the focus on the benefits of using your services. When it’s in their interest to get more customers to your company, they’ll try harder.
The incentive will give them a reason to mention your brand in their company blog or possibly on their YouTube channel. Give them the freedom to share their story about how your businesses helped them in their own way. Their customers will recognize the authenticity of their posts and therefore, trust their suggestion more.
B2B influencer marketing is yet to be fully developed. While the impact of this marketing method is undeniable, some brands are still hesitant to explore the unknown waters. The more courageous companies that combine the experts' influence with informative content will definitely have the upper hand.
Influencer marketing in the B2B community can be very versatile, depending on the brand's niche. With some creativity and effort, you can find credible support that will build trust in your brand and bring more customers to your business.