6 Must Follow Rules for B2B Influencer Marketing Campaigns
**Originally published November 8th, 2019. Updated December 18th, 2019**
Paid advertising is increasing in expense and (in some cases) decreasing in its effectiveness. This shift has led companies of all shapes and sizes to begin turning to earned exposure through the practice of influencer marketing. This idea makes perfect sense in theory. Consumers inherently trust one another much more than they trust messages directly from brands. Therefore, if we can get humans to carry out our brands’ marketing message on our behalf, costs should decrease and persuasiveness should rise simultaneously.
However, many critical challenges come with influencer marketing. This includes overcoming obstacles around scalability, disclosure, and the tendency of companies to select the wrong influencers based on vanity metrics instead of tangible influence. But there is no unringing the bell, and influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere.
An overwhelming majority of the discussions surrounding the influencer marketing industry focus on the use of influencers to promote consumer products. But in reality, influencer marketing is probably more important for B2B than for B2C. Why? Well, for starters, the average purchase size in B2B is typically far more than that in B2C. Also, the impact of referrals can be far more critical to the success of an organization. It should be noted that about 19 percent of the overall US economy (both B2B and B2C) is driven specifically by word of mouth, but 91 percent of B2B transactions are influenced by word of mouth. That’s a stark contrast.
Basically, without word of mouth and influencer marketing, B2B purchases would slow to a near standstill, because nearly no one takes a gamble on B2B products and services the way they will on consumer-based products. Many of the tactics ingrained into influencer marketing work the same for both B2C and B2B. However, there are many important differences to take into account, and we will touch on them in this article. Here are our 6 must-follow rules for B2B influencer marketing campaigns.
1. Focus on those who truly influence your target audience
Don’t fall into the same trap many other brands have in the past; prioritizing influencers who have the most fans and followers on social media. Contrary to popular belief, influence is about much more than just popularity. Instead, focus your efforts on identifying people who are influential with your target audience.
Create a list of industry analysts, thought leaders, public speakers, and even contributors to relevant publications and blogs. Don’t forget to add your company’s own employees that have domain expertise and are active on social media to the list. Keep in mind, it’s all about who sways your audience and takes potential customers from consideration to conversion.
We touched on very subject in a recent LinkedIn Live with Tom Augenthaler, a B2B Influencer Marketing Consultant who gave us his take as an expert over the past decade.
2. Keep in mind that all influencers are NOT the same
Sometimes, as a society, we lose track of the humanity of those we attach celebrity to. Influencers (like most people) have many different interests, areas of expertise, and styles in which they work and communicate. The stereotype is far from true, and not all influencers are the same.
Identify individuals that have discernible influence over your target audience AND also align with your brand image and values. A key to your influencer marketing success is to truly understand who it is you want to engage on behalf of your brand.
3. Engage influencers by offering to help them first
It may be hard to believe, but oftentimes the real challenge in influencer marketing isn’t simply identifying the right influencers, it’s engaging them and building a relationship. So how do you go about doing so?
Aside from partnering with an established influencer marketing agency, the first step is to get their attention and try to get on their radar. There’s a variety of ways you can go about doing this, including commenting on their posts, sharing their content, asking them questions, and getting introduced to one another via your personal network. Outreach should be made to offer value to a potential influencer. This builds goodwill and essentially gets a potential relationship off on the right foot.
4. Money Shouldn’t Be The Only Basis of your Relationship with an Influencer
This coincides with a much larger topic around the notion that influencer marketing is simply transactional. The truth about that is that a money-driven, pay-to-play approach isn’t a scalable model for nearly any business. Not to mention that often, influencers are turned off by the prospect of this type of relationship.
Rather than putting a price on your influencer relationship, think of it instead as a long-term relationship. Each interaction, mention on social media, email or personal interaction, etc, you are cultivating a strong relationship and nurturing it to help it grow. Sometimes, this can be as simple as sharing their content on your network or shouting them out. Every interaction forges a stronger bond between influencer and brand.
5. You Have To Give Up Some Control and Trust The Influencer
When it comes to how your company generally operates, many of your marketing efforts may afford you control over the entire process. However, while you may wield this ultimate power at any given moment, that doesn’t always mean that you should. This is particularly true as it pertains to branded influencer content.
Consider loosening the reins a bit and let an influencer do what they do best; create engaging content for their audience. It’s possible to set guidelines and clear expectations for an influencer while also giving them a sense of control over the messaging and feel of the content. Remember, influencers have a committed following of people who are familiar with their brand, so you don’t confuse their audience by imposing. Their message is more effective when it is more organic and speaks directly to the hearts of their fans.
6. Don’t Let the End of a Campaign be the End of the Communication
Ending communication with an influencer after a campaign has come to a close only makes for additional work in the future. While it’s common for B2B brands to sometimes end communication after the campaign, the time and energy you spent nurturing the influencer will be wasted if this occurs. It’s the “one-off” mentality that plagues the industry today, and no one likes the feeling of being used, including influencers.
Try and keep the channel of communication open while using an ongoing approach to your influencer marketing program. Thank influencers for their contributions to your marketing efforts and continue to nurture the relationship, even after the campaign is over. Even if you don’t have any near future campaigns that they may be a fit for, you never know when you may again…and having that strong relationship will help to expedite the process of future campaigns.