Gone are the days of features and benefits, today’s consumers want to see emotion and stories. Whether they are wearing a business suit or tracksuit, every customer is human, and ultimately, they want to work with other humans that they can trust and relate to. For this reason, more and more B2B businesses are embracing influencer marketing. Yes, that’s right, B2B influencers do exist.
Typically, when someone hears the word ‘influencer’, their mind will jump to the likes of Kardashians or Logan Paul, but the reality is, influencers are everywhere. Whether it’s beauty or technology, fitness or law, every industry has influencers, and they come in all shapes and sizes. In the world of B2B, influencers can be anyone from keynote speakers to industry experts to CEOs. Essentially – as the name suggests – anyone who has significant influence over their given industry. Now we’ve established who B2B influencers are, let’s look at how your business can make the most of them.
Opposites shouldn’t attract
For an influencer partnership to be successful, you need to ensure you are selecting the right people. By this I mean you should be choosing influencers based on their values and motivations as opposed to the size of their following; it’s important your beliefs are aligned and that they truly want to work with your business otherwise, you are unlikely to achieve the results you need. To put things into perspective, only 14% of influencers who work with brands that have not researched them prior to their collaboration rate their campaigns as being ‘very successful’.
Not only will taking the time to build relationships have benefits for your business in the long run, but it will also help you to attract influencers. Research from B2B marketing found B2B influencers prioritise working with brands who take the time to research them before making contact.
Bigger isn’t always better
I touched on this above, but when it comes to choosing which influencers you want to work with, the size of their following should not be a priority. In fact, in some instances it can pay to work with smaller influencers, or as they are more commonly known: micro-influencers. Not only are they more passionate and dedicated to your business, but believe it or not, micro-influencers typically get much higher engagement on their posts. Along with this, they are also seen to be more relatable, trustworthy and credible by their audience.
At the end of the day, people are far more likely to believe the word of someone genuinely interested in what they are promoting as opposed to someone who is promoting 5 different businesses a week. Proving that size really doesn’t matter, a recent B2B influencer marketing report found relatability is almost 2 times more important than size when it comes to the qualities that attract people to influencers.
To make the most of your relationship with your influencers, you need to set clear expectations at the very beginning (and also take the time to understand their expectations, too). Influencers are people with opinions and preferences – just like you or me – so whether they are open about it or not, they will enter into partnerships with some expectations. It’s your job to manage these from the start. From payment amounts and dates to the frequency of your communication, don’t leave anything left to the imagination, or the likelihood is, assumptions will be made and somewhere down the line, they will cause friction.
Some common issues reported by B2B influencers which could be overcome by setting clear expectations and ensuring regular communication are shown below:
Show a little respect
What springs to mind when you think about influencers? For most, it will be social media. The two go hand in hand. It’s the ‘bread and butter’ of influencer marketing, with 79% of B2B influencers posting social content for brands – but as we discovered earlier, big numbers don’t always add up. After hearing the previous statistic, you might be surprised to know that only 44% of B2B influencers say they enjoy posting social media content as part of their brand collaborations, and if they don’t enjoy it, there’s a danger this lack of passion could be reflected in their posts and have a negative impact on the views of your target audience.
Not only this, but influencers are experts in their industries, meaning they have a (very) good idea about what works well with their audience, so allowing them to have input into your brief can significantly boost the success of your campaigns. Not convinced? Well, 70% of campaigns that involve influencers in the brief are deemed to be ‘very successful’, compared to just 14% when they have been allowed no say in the matter.
Ultimately, you need to remember that influencers are people too; they have likes and dislikes and while they are good at what they do, they will always have their downfalls. For this reason – along with others mentioned above – you must take the time to communicate and build relationships with each and every one of your influencers to create partnerships that enable both parties to flourish and grow.
Understand their value
It’s easy to get caught up in trends and jump on the bandwagon simply because everyone else is doing it, but to get the most out of your influencer partnerships, there needs to be a two-way relationship in which both parties respect and understand each other. For this reason, you must take the time to understand the value an influencer can bring to your business. For example, did you know that 63% of people say they trust B2B influencers more than brands themselves? Or that 58% say they have made a purchase as the result of an influencer promotion?
According to a recent report from B2B marketing, one of the most common causes of negative influencer experiences reported was brands viewing them as a ‘bought commodity’. So, ensure you regularly communicate with your influencers and show how much you value their work. If not, there are plenty of other brands that will.
At the end of the day, businesses aren’t investing millions just for the sake of it; influencers are far more than likes and reach, they drive action that really makes a difference. With 49% of B2B influencers reporting an increase in their influencer work since the start of the pandemic, now’s the time to start doing your research, build relationships and embrace the power of influencers. Looking for help with your B2B influencer marketing strategy? Head to our influencer marketing page here to see the services we can offer or check out our ‘ultimate guide to B2B influencer marketing’ here for more tips on making your strategy a success.