When you think of “influencer marketing”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably a few beautiful young people advertising a product on various social media in a cheery voice.
That’s the idea behind influencer marketing for a lot of people, and they generally associate it with B2C businesses.
But what if there’s evidence to suggest that influencer marketing is just as effective, if not more, for B2B businesses? Mind blown.
This is a common misconception. Real statistics tell us something different:
Seems quite impressive, doesn’t it? There’s actually a very simple reason for why influencer marketing is generally even more beneficial in the B2B sector.
Audiences still trust B2B influencers. The average consumer is satiated with pictures and videos of famous influencers promoting products. This makes them cautious of any endorsements, even if the creator is trustworthy.
Parasocial relationships in the B2B sector are very different. There’s less of an emotional attachment, but more rational thinking. Endorsements by B2B influencers are seen as genuine, and are therefore more effective.
A lot of small and medium-sized businesses assume influencer marketing is for enterprise-grade companies with famous products and millions to spend on marketing plans. That is not entirely true either.
The world of B2B services and products is so diverse, and there are many different ways to go about influencer marketing even on a smaller budget in a niche sector.
Rather than going outside your comfort zone and searching for new voices, utilise your existing relationships. There’s no need to look for new people in new spheres — ideally, your current advocates can do the job.
Think of your existing partnerships with bigger, more influential clients and consider how they can be the herald of your brand.
This type of influencing is extremely effective and natural. Your happiest client has already tried your product or service and presumably they enjoyed their partnership.
If this client has a lot of sway in your niche, this type of influencing collaboration can be extremely beneficial.
Here’s what you can suggest — Invite them to write a public review of your services. Ideally, they’ve already written some reviews on websites like Clutch. Utilising their social media for genuine feedback will make the integration sound natural.
Another type of in-house influencing that not a lot of people think of is your own employees.
That’s right — your team can be your own brand ambassadors! Your employees are a living example of your company’s corporate values and structures, and they have first-hand experience with your product. This gives credibility to their testimonials — it’s a lot more authentic when it comes from your own employees.
Moreover, they are usually very well connected on social media and in your sphere. A good post here and there about all the cool things your company is doing or corporate events will compound over time until your company has a positive social footprint.
Or in other words — you don’t need someone with a million followers to influence the audience you want.
It’s much safer to start with micro- or nano-influencers — people with under 30k followers.
Not only are micro influencers more accessible, they might have a lot more real engagement with their audience compared with those who have millions of followers.
Micro- and nano-influencers have a closer relationship with their audience which allows them to be more direct. This means that any kind of endorsement they do will be met with inquisitive and engaged eyes and ears, instead of falling flat for the majority.
Also, consider who people in your niche might be listening to. Is it really that one famous American marketer that has gone around on every podcast and written multiple books? Or could it be someone local, speaking in your language and interacting in your specific market?
To really get a solid influencer list, you’ll likely need to turn to technology. Platforms like Insightpool, BuzzSumo, and Grin can help you find influencers by category, reach, engagement, etc. They can help you run your campaigns, track them, and even measure your returns in real-time.
Alternatively, you can just take a look at your own LinkedIn feed. Who is getting the most engagement from your network? Who is an expert on the topic? Which person seems to be the most aligned with your company values?
These are the people you could also approach regarding an influencer marketing campaign.
Positive endorsements and happy testimonials are effective, but they are kind of a given in marketing. Stand out by including your influencers in your content!
Invite the voice of your brand to co-create content for your socials and blogs, The kind of content can vary — you could include people in blog posts, videos, podcasts, and much more.
Here’s why this kind of collaboration is effective — your audience will see the influencer and your brand engaging and working together as opposed to simple endorsement on their socials.
When they see the influencer co-creating and participating in content on your brand channels, it will increase the trust and bring more ingenuity into the integration.
Moreover, you could cover all kinds of content together — podcast interviews like Tamara McCleary’s interviews of other influencers and executives at the SAP Tech Unknown podcast. Or they could be a guest speaker on one of your webinars or events. Or you could invite them to write a series of articles for your blog.
Here, the idea is to allow the influencers to be creative, but the content creation is primarily the responsibility of your marketing department.
Real positive collaboration and partnership will translate beautifully in the eyes of your audience and invite their audience to engage with your content directly.
For B2B brands, especially smaller ones, it may be difficult to find ways to collaborate with influencers, but it’s not impossible. You need to design ways which can benefit both the influencer and your brand. Add value for both parties and you’re sure to gain traction.
Give influencers space and encourage them to get involved as much as possible. Ask them to write guest blog posts and reviews for your brand. But don’t forget — for all this to work, you need to find and partner with relevant influencers that people will actually listen to in your industry niche.