Studies suggest that 86% of us claim to use influencer marketing in some capacity, so the chances are you’re probably already doing it in some way or another whether you know it or not. The concept of influencer marketing is nothing new, but it’s not necessarily about developing a dedicated programme. Instead, the real opportunities are likely to be around the integration of influencer activity into other campaign initiatives to support things such as demand generation.
Influencer marketing is considered to be the identifying of individuals that have influence over potential buyers and the orientation of marketing activities around these individuals. The greatest benefits of this particular form of brand advocacy include greater credibility and perceived trust, both of which are tremendously valuable for any business. At its most basic level we can look to the consumer brands that happily pay celebrities to tweet about their product. While cynics might argue that getting a B2B influencer to support with content marketing is no different, they are either wrong or missing the point! Successful influencer marketing is about working on a genuine partnership where there is a true exchange of value – often with no financial incentive whatsoever – and normally involving the co-creation of content.
This is an area full of opportunity for B2B marketers, but to be truly effective the approach has to be just right. Here we look at a handful of quick-wins to consider when working on your future B2B campaigns:
1. Get your influencers ‘involved’
Once you have found your expert influencers (we’ll touch on that shortly), ask them to participate in, or contribute to, your content programme. Depending on the platform you’re offering them, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to work with you in an effort to boost their professional profile. Perhaps they could write a high-value blog post, be a guest presenter for a webinar, or provide a forward for a new guide or white paper.
Just remember this is an equal exchange of value and they’re getting something out of this too.
Being involved in this way won’t just add value to the content, it will enhance the level of buy-in from the individual in question and ensure they are more likely to shout about the partnership to their followers. In the event that they’re not so naturally inclined to boast about their activity, don’t be shy in asking them to promote the content to their network (so long as you have established a good relationship first). Just remember this is an equal exchange of value and they’re getting something out of this too.
2. Consider paid opportunities
Our experience in the B2B world is that the majority of the most successful campaigns involving influencer marketing tend to be where the influencer in question isn’t paid. This tends to lead to a more genuine partnership with no compromise on credibility or bias. There are however some exceptions. One example might be the hiring of a high-profile industry figure to talk at an event where their “celebrity status” will ensure valuable reach for your brand. Another could be where a LinkedIn group owner is happy to accept a payment in return for direct reach to their group followers by including some form of promotion in their group updates. There are plenty of effective non-paid methods to explore, but so long as the content being offered is of sufficient value this is a quick-win that might provide a worthwhile return.
3. Don’t forget your closest allies
Perhaps the biggest aspect of influencer marketing that is all too often neglected is leaning on your colleagues. With the world a more social place than ever before, and many companies focused on developing a great company culture, the potential for staff to act as advocates and provide a strong route to market has never been greater. This starts with internal communications and ensuring your colleagues are actually aware of the content they could be sharing, but as with external influencers there are also some fantastic opportunities to get your experts involved in content creation – as mentioned in an earlier post, don’t hide your nerds!
A step further would be to roll out a full social advocacy programme. While this requires a blog in it’s own right due to the volume of tools and technology available today, the reach that your staff have, especially your client-facing folks, can make this a very compelling opportunity.
4. Make an ‘influencer’ list
Before you start Googling for experts on given topics, sit down and make a list of those you already have in your network. Consider people you’ve worked with, vendors who operate in the same market place (but who are of course non-competing), ex-colleagues who have moved elsewhere in the industry, people who shared a speaker line-up with a colleague at at an event. The list will very easily go on, but when you identify the key players be sure to reconnect and figure out what you share in common and where those quick-wins are.
5. Always keep an eye out for influencer opportunities
Sometimes opportunities just present themselves, and while it may not have featured in your marketing plan, you have to be agile enough to take advantage. Events and conferences are a particular hotbed of opportunity where you can find yourself meeting some highly influential industry figures. Consider an impromptu video interview, use their presentation content to write up a blog post, or simply start a conversation about how you could partner on content in the future. This form of in-person networking can really be a big quick-win, especially when you get early buy-in from the individual in question.
When trusted influencers and forward-thinking B2B brands partner together to develop great content, it can be a very powerful combination. You may already be ‘doing’ influencer marketing, but hopefully some of these quick-wins will provide inspiration to take advantage of additional opportunities.