Influencer marketing works for a B2B audience too!
Updated: Sep 30
Influencer marketing is exclusively a campaign tactic for B2C marketing and sales, right?👀 Wrong! An industry expert from Influencer, has opened our minds to the possibility of B2B marketing campaigns benefiting from the trend. No matter the size of your business, there is a way for you to utilise this marketing sub-genre.
Our In this Together Influencer Marketing Masterclass was a window into this world of influencers (sometimes known as content creators) and how they can be a real asset to the B2B audience. These are different to ‘Celebrity Influencers’ who have built up a following because of their celebrity status, rather than the content they create. Ben Jeffries－CEO & Co Founder at Influencer－championed the legitimacy of authentic brand collaboration for delivering impact and building trust around a brand!
So what is influencer marketing?
This type of social media marketing centres around endorsements and product placement from influencers who have significant social pull. There are different influencers you can approach depending on your needs. ‘Macro influencers’ typically have between 100k to one million followers and are often known within their industry as experts. You should use these big hitters if you want to target a large specific audience. You don’t always have to aim for ‘mega influencers’ AKA celebrities, to have impact.
‘Micro influencers’ have followings of less than 100k. However, for what their following lacks in numbers, it makes up for in engagement. They are likely to be highly dedicated to a niche market. If this fits your own ICP then this is a golden opportunity for you! An example of a micro influencer would be a well respected Developer in their industry or the Founder of a company. They are usually much more accessible to smaller businesses.
Companies use the already strong relationship between influencers and their followers, to promote the legitimacy of whatever they are selling. This is known as ‘social proof’ and encourages people to trust in your product.
How can influencer marketing work in B2B campaigns?
LinkedIn has recently been putting increased resources towards becoming more of a social media channel. As the world's largest professional network and leading platform for B2B lead generation, it has 2x the buying power of average web audiences. Influencer marketing is increasing with relevance for the B2B community and LinkedIn is responding to this. It's likely your sales teams are already getting their leads from social media and marketers are increasingly using LinkedIn as a distribution channel, so influencer marketing may be a natural step for you. You can always upskill your use of LinkedIn with Daniel Disney’s course, LinkedIn Social Selling Masterclass, available to Sales Impact Academy Members.
A great example of a LinkedIn Influencer is Ryan Holmes－Chairman and CEO at Hootsuite－who has over a million LinkedIn followers and often shares his thoughts on emerging trends in the social and tech industry and offers advice to startups. He has a following outside of his company and is therefore applicable to the tech industry more widely. Creating a partnership with these types of influencers is a clever way to reach a super relevant audience.
And, if you can’t pull that off just yet, use your employees! Your employees may be your best LinkedIn influencers! Encourage teams within your business to connect with their prospects and build relationships online.
It is best to view this process as B2C2B marketing and sales. Influencer marketing for B2B forces you to think about the individual user, and to draw in new audiences by “changing hearts and minds as a way of selling”. According to Ben, you need to consider the experience of the end user as much as you would the buyer. Connecting with the individual helps you connect to the business they are attached to.
Think about which influencers would be relevant within the B2B space. Find out who the people you sell to are influenced by e.g. who do they listen to, read and watch?
Your influencer has to be the right fit for your business from a strategic viewpoint.
Ask yourself whether their online image already aligns with your brand? How will associating yourself with them affect you in the future? It is important not to confuse the image of your brand.
When creating content, rather than paying the creator to post material on their own channels (like you see with B2C marketing), use them to produce branded content which you can share on your business’ own social platforms. This means their endorsement works more like a testimonial or customer case study rather than mere product placement.
The content you create should also feel authentic to the creators followers. Influencers have an obligation to disclose any ad material in order to be compliant with advertising laws. This means if the content in the ad is vastly different to the type of material the creator usually posts, it will come across as disingenuous and followers will switch off. Maintaining authenticity is key－give influencers as much creative freedom as possible.
If Ben has changed your view of influencer marketing in the B2B space even slightly, why not catch up on his broadcast on our YouTube channel?!
Influencers are a key bit of the marketing mix and can help your teams deliver ROI on your marketing budget. Our Sales Impact Academy Demand Generation course touches on this and what else you should be doing.
Learn more about becoming a member here.