It seems as though our feeds are constantly full of influencer collaborations and offer codes, but a question has been looming for some time now. Is the golden age of influencer marketing over? Will influencer marketing die out in 2021? What will take its place? They’re all questions that any active digital marketer has asked. From algorithm shifts to crowded markets, we’ve known that our approach to influencer marketing has to change. Consumer markets are inundated with influencers to the point that audiences are overwhelmed.
As always, B2B spaces behave differently from B2C. Whilst the influencer marketing techniques aren’t identical, the typical B2B influencer marketing approach doesn’t cut through the noise like it used to. Using influencers in your B2B digital marketing strategy won’t help your brand stand out from its competitors. Everyone is already collaborating – to the point where an influencer strategy has become a hygiene factor as opposed to a breakthrough technique. Thoughtless collaboration with only vaguely relevant influencers is an issue throughout a range of industries. When brands continue to make these common mistakes, B2B influencer marketing won’t survive past 2021.
Confusing content creators for influencers
Too often, the titles of ‘content creator’ and ‘influencer’ are used interchangeably. These two positions are actually radically different when it comes to the impact they’ll have on their audience and your brand.
The definition of an influencer seems fairly straightforward: a person that holds ‘influence’ over their audience and has the ability to ‘influence’ buyer decisions. You’d think it’s easy to spot an influencer out on your social media platforms, but the reality is, there are a lot of content creators out there. A content creator doesn’t represent an audience. That’s not to say they can’t have a large following. They just won’t represent a specific interest that resonates. Therefore, they have no sway over the audience and can’t motivate them to fulfil your objectives.
Ultimately, the difference between an influencer and a content creator is their ability to generate sales. A true influencer can help grow your brand and produce leads. A content creator, however, will not.
Picking the wrong influencers
Let’s examine this within a B2B context. If you’re working within the legal industry and looking to develop an influencer marketing strategy, you have several avenues to choose from.
It might be tempting to collaborate with the increasingly popular ‘vlawgers’ – a group of (typically young) legal professionals that document their journey into law through video blogs (or, vlogs.) Their videos have thousands of views and comments and the individuals have a dedicated community that follows their every move. It’s an appealing opportunity. Or… It would be an appealing opportunity if their audience wasn’t entirely made up of young people that had no use for a legal firm. These are content creators. They have a huge audience and create content relevant to your sector but their audience simply won’t resonate with your brand.
If you want to target a B2B influencer, you’re better off searching through LinkedIn for top legal professionals. CEOs, keynote speakers or seminar leaders. The type of people within your industry that hold real sway over their audience. People listen to them, look to them for advice and trust their judgement. These are the types of people that you’d want to collaborate with to generate leads, increase your brand awareness and improve credibility.
A lack of authenticity and trust
In the early days of influencer marketing, audiences trusted the influencers they followed wholeheartedly. After all, influencers built their following around authenticity and by fostering a sense of community. Bad influencer marketing can shift this perception entirely. If a collaboration between brand and influencer seems inauthentic, it spells bad news for both parties. Maybe your values don’t align or your audiences have very little overlap. Any disconnect will foster a sense of negativity within the audience. 61% of customers have unfollowed an influencer because they “work with inappropriate brands” or “endorse too many products.” So it’s in the best interest of both brand and influencer to work with relevant parties!
Is there any hope?
Influencer marketing is such a staple in digital marketing strategies that it likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Influencer marketing won’t be dying out quite yet. It’s just a matter of standing out with your influencer marketing and ensuring it resonates fully with an audience.
When an influencer has been working on building up an audience for a number of years, it can be exciting when an offer from a brand comes along. All those hours of free content creation – finally worth it! For those individuals, it could be so easy to become swept up and accept a collaboration that doesn’t feel authentic. It’s up to brands to be responsible with their influencer marketing and to thoroughly research the individuals they reach out to. B2B influencer marketing remains an exciting space with a wealth of opportunities for smart, creative marketers. An influx of competitors increases the challenge, but with a radical strategy and some big ideas, your B2B influencer marketing can help your business soar. If you’re looking for help with your influencer marketing strategy, contact us today for a free consultation or head on over to our influencer marketing services page to learn more.