Leveraging B2B Influencers in the Age Of Work From Home
Breaking through the noise in a highly competitive market is crucial in converting your target audience into customers. While this is undoubtedly a complex endeavor, this is where the B2B influencers come into play. Brands can leverage partnering with established influencers in their industries to increase brand awareness and accomplish other crucial business objectives. Digital B2B buying has increased dramatically since most people started working from home at the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, which is likely a result of employees spending more time on social media. While challenges still exist in the economy, it’s never been a better time to grow your business with the help of B2B influencers.
The majority of the B2B influencers have a strong online presence, so finding one shouldn’t be a problem. In many cases, you can reach out and connect with B2B influencers simply by sending them an email. Alternatively, you have platforms like LinkedIn, where you can look for the right influencers and connect with them through their professional network. Agencies like Viral Nation also offer a huge roster of talented B2B influencers across numerous nichés and platforms. Being a pioneer in the influencer marketing industry, partnering with a company like Viral Nation offers brands a wealth of knowledge and experience in the space, and most importantly, a history of ROI-driven success with influencer campaigns.
Let’s discuss how brands can leverage B2B influencers in this age of working from home, and how B2B influencers can prove to be invaluable for your brand marketing needs.
Who Are B2B Influencers?
As marketers are all too aware of, pushy sales emails, annoying phone calls, and spammy push-notifications simply aren’t effective as they once were during the infancy of digital marketing. Today, customers are looking for the best possible value and experience, and they know how to find it. Consumers believe in word-of-mouth recommendations far more than the messages in bold font that brands post on their website. This truth is particularly magnified when those recommendations come from someone they trust, and it holds more meaning than any other form of marketing material.
B2B influencers are well-recognized professionals of their niche markets. They have a solid following (though they may not have the audience count of some macro-influencers). But that isn’t an issue, considering that their audience is typically highly-engaged. These individuals are the people your target audience listens to and trusts, and they can be the voice of your company when properly leveraged to communicate important messages.
B2B influencers come in many shapes and forms from various backgrounds and niches. Examples include financial YouTubers like Graham Stephan and Andrei Jikh, who often recommend sponsors they use in their video content. As Jikh said: “I love to put my money where my mouth is.” Being both self-employed, they attract the same clientele of young, ambitious frugal people ready to take on the journey of financial independence and early retirement. Another great example of a B2B influencer is Marla Gottschalk, an Industrial & Organizational Psychologist, Worklife strategist, and core stability advocate. We included her on our list of top 15 business influencers to help you grow your brand.
The rapid takeover of lifestyle YouTube channels drove the market capital of B2B influencers up. B2B influencers are often housewives and people like you and I (small online business owners) who recommend a product that they genuinely love to an audience that includes other small business owners. Indeed, those people have little to no marketing to do as their audience relates to them and often need similar solutions to lifestyle issues.
For instance, a financial YouTuber might recommend a broker to a company looking to diversify its investments. A cooking YouTube channel could suggest a particular brand of ingredients to local chefs looking into giving some international kick to a local dish. In contrast, a book reviewer could recommend an audiobook app to companies to help their employees learn training material faster. This all contributes to why B2B online sales are expected to grow into a 1.2 trillion dollar market in the US alone for 2021.
The Changing Work Environment
The year 2020 has transformed the way most businesses operate, and now we are all in a completely new work setting than we were previously. Working from home means more flexibility for workers, which is one of many factors why there has been such a huge spike in social media usage. Workers now have more time to spend on social media networks that are increasingly dominated by micro-influencers. This means if you aren’t taking advantage of partnering with these influencers to grow your business, someone else already probably has, or soon will.
Outside of individuals who fall within the high-risk category for COVID-19 infections, it’s small businesses that have been most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. But even small businesses who are still reeling from the financial fallout have an opportunity to leverage B2B influencers without breaking the bank. You might have heard of the term ‘nano-influencers’ – influencers who aren’t globally recognized but do have a solid following in their niche with an audience size anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 followers. Nano-influencers can help small businesses effectively connect with new audiences, build trust, and grow their brand, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional influencers.
The Influencer Next Door
Back in the 80s, it was hard to imagine that anyone could make money, let alone a good living, by sitting behind a computer and working from home. Today, it is our reality. The world is more than realizing that there may be more money to be made online than offline. On the other side, most smartphone users are unlikely to change and revert to their old habits of shopping locally and buying in-person rather than online. The age of work-from-home has created new consumer behaviors that are likely here to stay for the foreseeable future.
“When you’re looking for a new business solution or vendor, the first thing you do is ask your colleagues and manager to point you in the right direction. Nine times out of ten, you’ll move forward with the solution your colleagues present because at the end of the day you respect their experience. The same logic is applied to B2B influencers. Due to the current state of affairs with lockdowns and work-from-home, more and more business operators are turning to social media for value driven content. Influencers are the next step of evolution in bridging that learning curve and providing valuable insight quickly and easily.”
-Michael Feldman, Director of B2B Influencer Marketing at Viral Nation
While any first world country can easily advertise a product that would require online payment, this is hardly happening in the rest of the world. In this regard, nano-influencers (or the ‘influencers next door’) can play a significant role in sharing their craftsmanship of local goods with other businesses. Those small business owners can recommend niche products to very specific customers. For example, a plumbing company could recommend a new brand of PVC pipe they are selling, and a welding workshop could recommend its services to a mechanic that needs welding jobs.
Nano-influencers empower themselves by promoting local products or organically growing their following base to promote their small businesses. Indeed, these people may be small business owners themselves in many instances, or maybe they are just attractive online personalities who are advertising their recent shopping trip on Instagram. Nano-influencers can be your neighbors or your friends, dropping a hashtag into a content post that can generate sales on something that might not strike the interest of the general population.
B2B Influencer Marketing As A Reliable Strategy
When choosing to market a business, one key factor is reliability. Businesses with good planning and strategy are always ready to pay more to receive the desired response. Indeed, turning viewers into customers may be a tough job. However, B2B influencers can act as a bridge between one business and another.
Possessing intimate knowledge of both the marketing business and the potential buyer – while being a trustworthy source of information – puts B2B influencers on top of their game. A company advertising a new product via a B2B influencer knows that the influencer would not recommend a product they do not genuinely endorse. In fact, failure to comply with these social rules can be detrimental to the influencer’s career and have them labeled a ‘sell-out’ of sorts. With this reasoning in mind, we may conclude that the best B2B influencers strategically choose both their audience and who they will partner with.
B2B Strategy In A Work-From-Home World
Studies indicate that daily social media usage by B2B employees has increased to an average of 2 hours per day. This increased usage presents an ideal opportunity for businesses to leverage B2B influencers when they know their target audience is consuming their content.
Stay in control
For businesses planning to partner with a B2B influencer for the first time, we recommend starting small and moving forward with a test and learn strategy. You don’t have to go all-in from the get-go and exhaust your budget on a single influencer. Set clear objectives for every campaign and carefully monitor progress so that when the need arises, you can make changes in real-time and be adaptable.
Stay up to date on the market trends
It’s essential to learn more about your target audience before attempting to reach out and convey your message through influencers. You want your time and money to be well-spent, and that’s difficult to accomplish when you’re involved in outdated techniques that bring little to no returns. Research which social media networks your target audience is using the most, what they are interested in, who are the most influential personalities in your niche, and how you can make your brand relevant with their help. There are many tools available for learning more about market trends like Influsoft, Buzzsumo, Exploding topics, etc.
Monitoring the performance of every campaign is crucial for maximizing ROI. There is a whole range of data collection and monitoring tools available in platforms like Influsoft, Mixpanel, and Amplitude that businesses can use to maximize efficiency, invest wisely and increase profits.
Using B2B influencers is a highly effective way to increase your marketing ROI and grow your brand to new heights. However, it is critical that organizations take their time to search for influencers who best fit their brand, someone who has a strong following and voice within your industry. Also, it is equally important to take a test and learn approach to minimize loss – whether that be in time, or in marketing budget.
Keep in mind that the influencer may understand your target audience even better than your brand does. After all, they have a massive following for a reason. While you may a treasure trove of data and analytics on hand, they know how to engage your target audience. They know what their followers want; therefore, involving them in the campaign planning process is best practice, and will help you create more relevant and effective campaigns. In fact, in the era of work from home, B2B influencer marketing is even more relevant than ever before. It’s a space where big corporations can easily choose a local vendor for new supplies simply because of an endorsement made by a B2B influencer. In a world where time is money and where a business’ network often correlates with its net worth, it is paramount to build connections with B2B influencers. So what are you waiting for?