Love Island returned to our screens back in early June and with the series of break-ups, bust-ups and some niceties, the contestants are probably most looking forward to their inherited social media influencing careers. With the B2C influencer club now heavily saturated, it has caused a ripple effect in the B2B industry.
Since Covid-19 focused consumers on online platforms, social media’s importance soared with figures indicating 3.6 billion active social media users worldwide. But of course, traditional B2C influencer marketing is influencing a quite different audience buying paygrade from B2B. Let me clarify.
The B2B influencer market has a much longer buying process – months or even years – and a significantly more targeted prospect pool. A credible source, trusted opinions and word of mouth is what holds the value of B2B influencing and these can be a valuable tool in the sales funnel.
B2B influencing comes in the form of an industry insider, industry expert or a respected specialist. B2B influencing is paid in reputation and credibility on a product or service. If you’re thinking thought leadership, you’re in the right place.
Can’t ignore the stats!
The figures for the effectiveness of B2B marketing are plain to see – 74% of marketers agree the use of B2B influencing increases prospect and customer experience, while 63% agree it strengthens marketing results. Overall, 96% of B2B marketers who implement a B2B influencer strategy feel it has benefited their marketing campaign overall…
Here are the four key benefits of integrating a B2B influencer into your marketing strategy – they are similar to the B2C model, but with a B2B twist:
Brand trust begins with thought leadership: As we know, B2B influencing centres on a well-respected, quality opinion to boost a B2B organisation’s sales and reputation. Use of your influencer’s thought leadership is an important strategy, as it can answer important issues and questions your target audience may have. Not only this, thought leadership also fosters confidence and trust with your audience.
Costs don’t have to just be financial: Using a brand influencer is not only cost-effective, but it also produces a one-to-one partnership between an influencer and B2B brand – an all-round winner. Away from simple payment for a post or speaking slot, a way for this to work could be offering access to exclusive events or even a product before it launches on the market. Similarities here with B2C influencing but the stakes are much higher and won’t be taken on without trust in the solution.
Internal and external experts? Both make good influencers: Despite influencing often extending to third parties, the strategy can sometimes be implemented with an in-house expert. Employees know the company and have good understanding of its values and ethos and may have a significant following their own given their position in a core industry or geography. However, external contractors – and I would include some analysts here – open the door for new and exciting perspectives, some of which may not have been thought of otherwise. Deploying both knowledge, mixed with fresh outside perspectives creates an exciting hybrid of ideas and executing influencer campaign.
Broaden the target audience through social platforms: Influencer campaigns don’t just have to run in the form of thought leadership, event speaking or sponsored industry content. They need the amplification that social platforms provide. B2B influencing social media can be just as useful to B2B as it is to B2C. With trusted opinions and respected titles being the driving force of B2B influencing, using social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn and even podcasts or webinars can provide the perfect platform to catapult an influencer campaign.
Look after the strategy, and the results will look after themselves
B2B influencing takes a little time to generate traction – research suggests results are likely to be seen after six months – but the long-term benefits are huge. This is reflected with stats suggesting social media will influence their 93% of B2B buyer’s purchasing decisions before purchasing, with a further 83% saying they actively look at a vendors social media for information before making a decision going forward.
Implementing a B2B influencer marketing strategy and partnering with relevant and enthusiastic influencers will have a lasting effect on marketing campaign results. Lining up with an influencer who really reflects what the company wants to achieve, services, products and values, will really push your marketing campaign to the next level.