Much of the conversation about Influencer Marketing centers around B2C marketing. After all, as our infographic shows, consumers rely largely on social media recommendations when making buying decisions. However, Influencer Marketing is an excellent approach for B2B businesses as well, and can significantly elevate your professional profile. Influencer Marketing can do more than simply build visibility – it can help you build and strengthen professional relationships, lend credibility to your brand, and give you unprecedented insight into your market.
The trick is tapping into the Influencer Sphere for your market. Whatever your industry, chances are there are influential social media users discussing the things that your business partners care about: the news of the day, latest industry trends, industry outlooks, and discussions of strategies, tools, products and services that help businesses succeed. By teaming up with these voices, you can become part of the conversation, not just as a voice but as a topic, and strengthen your credibility amongst your industry peers and your potential clients.
B2B Influencer Marketing requires a slightly different approach than B2C. Because B2B Influencers are closely tied to their professional identities, they are often more cautious about engaging in Influencer Marketing with brands they are not confident about. Mere incentives are often not enough: B2B Influencers want to engage in social media activities that elevate their own profiles and give them an opportunity to build their own reputations.
For this reason, a clear and well-defined marketing strategy is a crucial first step. First you’ll need clear goals. Who do you want to reach? What do you want your audience to do? Are you looking for new subscribers to your software service? Increased discussion of your brand? Buzz and interest about a new product launch? Define these goals and determine a way to measure them.
Once you’ve identified your audience, you’ll need to determine who they’re listening to. It’s not enough to simply identify the most prominent social media users in your industry, you’ll need to find the ones who are most trusted to offer opinions that relate to your brand and your products. When looking for Influencers, you’ll want to focus on people who are active, engaged, and well respected, with reputations for providing trusted, well-informed opinions that their followers trust.
The next step is perhaps the most challenging: motivating Influencers to talk about your brand. Many of the approaches that work in B2C Influencer Marketing are less effective here: industry experts are less likely to be swayed by the promise of free products, and many are wary of accepting financial incentives because of the risk of compromising their professional integrity.
So how do you encourage industry leaders to talk about your brand? Consider why these Influencers engage in social media activities in the first place. Many are looking to build their own reputations as industry experts; others, of course, are more interested in promoting their own products and services. When approaching B2B Influencers, you’ll need to make a strong case not only for your brand, but for why partnering with you in a marketing campaign can help them achieve their own goals. You might also offer special opportunities to your Influencer partners – exclusive access to industry events that you’re hosting, a reciprocated conversation about their brands, or perhaps advance notification about your latest developments.
Once you’ve found Influencers to work with in the B2B sphere, you’ll want to nurture this relationship carefully. Keep the lines of communication open, feed your Influencers a steady stream of information, and welcome and evaluate any feedback they may have about your brand, your products, and your campaign. Just as with any Influencer Marketing campaign, you won’t be able to directly control what Influencers say about you, regardless of whether you’re partnering with them or not, but by focusing on open communication and respect, you can help Influencers understand why your brand is one they should be talking about.
B2B Influencer Marketing can help you build your brand and get your message to your audience, but it requires a strong strategy and clear goals. If you’d like to learn more about Influencer Marketing and how it can help your brand, give us a call.