In B2B, word of mouth is one of the kings when it comes to marketing strategies.
The easiest way to achieve this is through social media influencers – those that have thousands or even millions of followers on their social media profiles. It’s a rising market that is already bringing a lot of success to companies.
According to Hubspot, 34% of all marketers use influencer marketing as their go-to strategy for marketing their products or services, making it the most widely used tactic for marketers with the biggest ROI potential.
Influencer marketing is a strategy you should know about if you’re a marketer. So if you’re trying to learn more about it or you’re just curious, read this definitive guide on influencer marketing to learn everything about it.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy where a social media influencer promotes a product from a company. The goal is to use personas with a lot of engaged followers to introduce the product or service to their followers. Currently, it’s one of the best ROI strategies for marketers.
The main purposes of influencer marketing are:
- To get the influencer’s followers to buy your product
- To increase your brand reputation
- To build trust with a wider audience
- Higher-quality engagement
It’s the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing. The major benefit of today’s social media is also the fact that this type of marketing can be used to reach thousands, and potentially millions, of new customers.
Some of the main platforms for social media influencer marketing include Instagram, TikTok, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others. The way you do influencer marketing if you want to use LinkedIn, for example, is that you’ll first need to find the top LinkedIn influencers and get them to promote your product.
Some platforms have more influencers than others, so they are preferred by marketers. The preferences come down to the nature of your business and your tone of voice.
How does influencer marketing work in B2B?
You might have already heard about the great potential that influencer marketing has in B2C, but how exactly does it work in B2B?
With B2C marketing, you can get your influencer to post a marketing campaign on their profile. In a matter of minutes to hours, you could have your first purchases that will come due to that campaign.
With B2B influencer marketing, things are a little bit different.
As you might know, B2B marketing usually involves two or more decision-makers. So the natural thing is that this type of influencer marketing will take slightly longer to see the results. The results will probably come after a few weeks or even months of influencer marketing, unlike with B2C.
The second thing that’s different with B2B marketing is that it’s often all about the quality of influencers and their followers, not necessarily the quantity.
With B2B marketing, it’s often better to pick niche influencers with engaged followers rather than influencers who have millions of unengaged followers. B2B will take a bit more persuasion to be more successful than B2C since it involves several decision-makers at another company and likely a more strict decision-making process.
How and where do you find influencers for B2B marketing?
Now, perhaps one of the toughest tasks for marketers is finding the right influencers to help them do the marketing for them.
With B2B, things are a bit more complicated in the sense that influencer authority matters a lot. That’s why you need to proceed with a lot of scrutinies if you want to find the influencers who will deliver success to you regularly.
Here are the steps you need to take to find the influencers that you want to work with when it comes to B2B marketing.
- The first step will be selecting the platform you want to work on. To do that, consider the tone of voice of your business and the nature of influencers you’re looking for. You also need to take into account the specific niche you work in.
- The best way to find good influencers is to use various influencer databases. Or, you might want to do some research and try to find the top influencers on your selected platform for your niche. This will take a bit of time and effort.
- Next, you’ll want to create a list or a spreadsheet of influencers that you are interested in. It might be helpful to include some information about them such as their follower count and the number of views and engagement rate.
- After that comes a long period of evaluation. Take your time and learn more about the influencers you’ve included on the list. As already mentioned, you need to take care to pick quality influencers. The first red flag is a high follower count with a lot of fake profiles following them – it’s better to choose influencers with fewer followers but high-quality followers.
Note that some influencers might approach you first. If that’s the case, you also need to take great care as to which influencers you decide to work with. No matter which person you want to work with, the most important thing is to choose trustworthy influencers who regularly produce good content with a lot of value.
Additionally, you need to know it takes a lot of time to build and manage a relationship with the influencers you decide to work with. The better the relationship you have with them, the more motivated the influencer will be to promote you, and the higher the chance of success for your campaign will be.
According to Stefan Smulders, CEO of Expandi.io, building relationships with influencers can take time. He states that “planning a collaboration with influencers means you need to get in touch with them at least a few months before making the deal. Their schedules are packed and you may need to wait for a while”.
What about compensation?
The compensation you’ll need to pay your influencer of choice will depend on a few factors. The first and most significant factor will be the size and the reputation of the influencer.
If you decide to work with mega influencers, you might have to agree on a fee with an agency or another representative.
On the other hand, if you decide to work with smaller influencers, you might need to compromise on what types of posts you’ll use when you decide to work with these influencers. The reason is that smaller influencers tend to have a more focused audience, so they might not accept all of your proposals.
The compensation will also depend on your budget.
Before you decide on which influencer to work with, consider your finances. You should know that some large influencers might be too expensive to work with, so you might need to scale down a bit.
But either way, the good thing about influencer marketing is that it’s more cost-effective than using ads to promote your product, for instance. At the same time, it also provides you with better ROI, so you can’t go wrong if you decide on influencer marketing no matter what your budget is.
How to do influencer marketing – best strategies
Here’s how you can make the most out of B2B influencer marketing.
- Focus on video content
Video content is the clear winner when we talk about different types of content. In 2022, 82% of all content views on the internet are video views and the number is only going to grow in the next few years, so it’s best to double down if you have the type of product that fits this type of content.
Youtube, Instagram, and Tik Tok are some of the best platforms to use for influencer marketing if you want to focus on video content. You might also want to consider LinkedIn and Twitter for written posts.
- Focus on providing value
When you try influencer marketing, the most important thing is that both you and the influencer appear genuine. Don’t force the content if it’s going to compromise the image of the influencer. Instead, it’s better to allow them to be natural while they promote your product.
While you might want to add a few things to the content, it’s best to let the influencer have some creative freedom for including your product in their videos. It will work better if it’s included naturally in a way that is not forced. So that’s why it’s also important to pick the right influencers to work with in the first place.
- Work with influencers with an engaged audience
Influencers with 50K followers or fewer will normally have a much more engaged audience than larger influencers. So you should not look past those who have a relatively small following – remember, quality above quantity when it comes to B2B!
It’s better to work with someone who can captivate their audience. You can measure this through the replies and the engagement rate by the followers of the influencers. For example, you can do this by measuring what percentage of the followers watch their posts or videos.
- Have multiple influencers promoting your product/company
The more influencers you use to promote your product or company, the faster the word will spread about you.
Of course, working with multiple influencers at the same time can be costly both financially and in terms of time. But if you have a team dedicated to this and enough resources, you should be able to build a steady base of influencers quickly.
- Consider using platforms that aren’t typical for B2B
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube are all great platforms for B2B marketing. But you should also not forget to include platforms that aren’t typically seen for a more business-oriented audience, such as TikTok.
The importance of TikTok seems to be growing even in the B2B sphere. In 2021, it hit the 1 billion user mark, and the number of users is only growing. In a few years, TikTok could have 2 or 3 billion users, which will make it indispensable even for business opportunities.
- Track your influencer campaigns
In order to evaluate the success of your campaign, you need to track down some metrics. Depending on the platforms you use, the duration of the campaign, and its goals, you may need to observe different analytics. How many people did you reach? How many new customers did you get as a result of your efforts? How many new followers did you attract? These are some of the questions to get you started.
To get the most relevant insights, you should consider using one of the analytics tools such as Keyhole. It provides you with detailed reports on your social media campaigns in just a few moments. This data will be valuable for planning and executing future influencer campaigns.
Examples of B2B influencer marketing
Some of the world’s top companies in the B2B sphere are also using influencer marketing. That enough should be your motivation to give this strategy at least a try.
Here are some of the best examples of B2B influencer marketing.
- SAP – SAP is one of the largest software solutions providers in the world. In their live conference, which has up to 20,000 attendees, they used video content created by influencers to explain their product to the attendees. It’s fair to say that the conference was a success for SAP.
- Dell – recently, Dell has launched a podcast called Dell Luminaries which features influencer hosts Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr. The podcast aims to introduce different topics relevant to Dell.
- IBM – IBM’s approach to influencer marketing is a little bit different. Instead of inviting outside influencers, they make their employees influencers. They get their employees talking about the quality of IBM Verse, which resulted in over 50,000 new registrations in just a few weeks.
The current trends and data suggest that influencer marketing is one of the best strategies for ROI in the B2B sphere. It’s much more cost-effective than ads, yet it produces the same or even better results.
With the right tools and the budget, you will be able to build a powerful B2B influencer strategy that works. It will take a lot of time and effort – many people underestimate the demanding nature of influencer marketing. You’ll need to manage the influencers and also find the right ones to work with in the first place.
The fact that some of the biggest companies in the world are using B2B influencer marketing should tell you about its effectiveness as a marketing strategy. Shortly, influencer marketing is going to continue to be one of the best B2B tactics out there.