Anyone and everyone will have encountered influencer marketing at some point, whether it be scrolling past a sponsored post on Instagram, tuning into a Facebook live product-unboxing, or watching a YouTube tutorial video. Sound familiar?
Spend ten minutes on any social media channel, and you’re sure to agree that influencer marketing is a widespread strategy that is here to stay – and it’s easy to understand why so many B2C businesses are turning to influencer marketing to get their name out there.
According to a recent study by Mediakix, 80% of marketers are finding this strategy effective, and two thirds of these marketers increased their influencer marketing budget this year.
But What About B2B Brands?
With a much higher average purchase value, B2B consumers will understandably have a much heavier vetting process when choosing a brand to purchase from. This means earning their trust is arguably more important than it is for B2C brands. And with reports from the likes of BizJournals suggesting that 91% of business purchases are influenced by word of mouth, it seems one sure fire way to do this is by using real people.
Unsurprisingly, influencer marketing works a little differently when working with business clients than it would with a B2C brand. However, done correctly, the results speak for themselves.
Therefore, if you want to learn more about how to make influencer marketing work for your B2B brand, keep reading.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
While we’ve touched on what influencer marketing is, to carry out a successful campaign it is essential that you know exactly what it is you’re doing.
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy which is best described as a hybrid of traditional celebrity endorsement, and more modern social media marketing.
‘Influencers’ are social media users, who have gained a large online following and have high engagement rates with their audience. These influencers will usually have their own niche, and a following who have a high interest in specific types of content, which makes them perfect for advertising purposes!
For example, Instagram user Mrs Hinch (@mrshinchhome) who at the time of writing has 2.6 million followers, gained her notoriety by posting clips of her cleaning her home. She has since worked with various cleaning brands by doing sponsored posts, giveaways or tutorials featuring their products.
What Classes As An Influencer?
While an influencer will typically have a high follower count, how high this count is will help define what category they fall into.
A nano-influencer is someone who has less than 1000 followers. This may not sound particularly impressive in relation to other influencer groups, however, typically these tend to be a person with influence in a particular industry or community. This could be a local charity leader, or local council member.
A micro-influencer is a person with 1000-100,000 followers. This influencer category benefits from a higher engagement rate than other influencer bands, while also having quite a large audience reach.
Macro-influencers have a large following of anywhere between 100,000 to 1 million followers. While these influencers may cost more to work with, it is a great way to really get the word out about your brand.
A mega-influencer will have anywhere over 1 million followers and is typically closer to a traditional celebrity than the other influencer groups. Due to their large following, their audience will also have a wider range of interests, meaning if your brand is niche-specific, this might not be the right group for you.
How is B2B Influencer Marketing Different to B2C Influencer Marketing
The main difference between B2B and B2C influencer marketing, is time.
Unlike customer-targeted campaigns, which are typically short and sweet, a B2B influencer marketing campaign usually runs for a lot longer and can take up to 6 months to have an impact.
Because of this, it is important to choose an influencer you’re comfortable working with for an extended length of time.
A great way to do this is to assess your current network. This can involve asking employees, checking your client base- and also your social following. Many B2B brands will already have someone in their arsenal who is the perfect candidate! Another benefit to this is that anyone who you already have a connection with is likely to have some understanding of your brand, your values and your mission.
Once you’ve found the right person for the job, be sure to brief them in on what you want to gain from the campaign and educate them on your brand history, expertise and products.
It is also a good idea to let the influencer have as much input as possible to the campaign, as they will already know what content sits well with their audience and how to get the best engagement rates.
Examples of B2B Brands Using Influencer Marketing
So now you know how to get started with your campaign you’re probably wondering, does it work?
Well, we think so. But don’t just take our word for it. Plenty of huge B2B brands have already dipped their toes into influencer marketing, yielding incredible success. Here are just a few of them…
One of the greatest examples of this type of marketing in action is American Express’ Love My Store campaign.
This campaign involved Amex partnering with small business owner, Grace Bonney, who despite not being a direct link to their industry, worked well for this particular plan (a good example of how thinking outside the box can work wonders!)
The point of the campaign was to show customers of small businesses that American Express was accepted by them, and was done with a series of stickers and posters.
The results were a huge success, earning a huge 5 million impressions on socials and the printing and distribution of more than 400,000 of the ‘I Love My Store’ decorative pieces. Not only that, but it was nominated for a Shorty award.
Another company that thought outside of the box when producing their influencer marketing campaign is IBM.
Rather than going out and seeking an influencer to join forces with for marketing plan, they looked within.
IBM utilises their employees by allowing them to talk about their products whenever they could, whether this be on social media or by speaking about them at conferences or during interviews. An example of this can be found here at Dynamic Splash.
If you’re not a people person, you may be wishing you didn’t have to deal with a person at all for your influencer campaign…
Well, that is exactly what PwC did.
In an attempt to subvert the ‘boring’ and ‘old’ stereotypes that accountants have gathered over the years, PwC partnered with the 2016 Oscar awards.
So, who did they send to represent them at this huge event? Well, a briefcase.
The PwC briefcase carried the ballot nominations, and was documented on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat leading up to the event, which resulted in 126,000 Instagram impressions and 12.3 million Twitter impressions. This completely fulfilled their target, which was to improve their millennial following.
When your CEO is as well-known as Marc Benioff – who boasts 1 million Twitter followers and is an advocate for global causes such as climate change and other social issues – it is easy to make use of that influence.
Thank you @Forbes for once again including me on your innovative leader list. We are very fortunate to have so many high quality innovators in our industry. We need much more female representation on this list— especially in the top 10! https://t.co/MdJkU7DTXE pic.twitter.com/tKa6cypxvH— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) September 5, 2019
Having a CEO with such a large social media presence means that your brand values are no secret, and anyone discovering your brand through these channels will already have a good idea of what you’re about, as well as raising overall awareness.
A campaign can be about more than just social media posts, and Microsoft’s partnership with the National Geographic and a well-respected group of 30 women scientists proved that.
As well as a series of high quality Instagram posts, Microsoft ran a series of workshops with their influencers, as a campaign to motivate women with an interest in STEM subjects.
This coincided with International Women’s Day 2017, helping to humanise Microsoft and align them with a great cause. The campaign managed to reach 91 million people, which would massively raise awareness of the collaboration!
Think Big, But Stay True to You
So, what can we learn from this?
When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, the best campaigns are those that feel natural and have more than just sales in mind. Big campaigns such as Microsoft and Amex’s efforts helped bring attention to more than just their business, giving the audience an idea of the types of causes these brands are aligned with. So, before you dive in, it might be a good idea to ensure your brand values and mission are rock solid.
Most importantly, be sure your chosen influencer is the right fit for you. Whether this comes from within the business, or not, as soon as you start working together, they’re associated with you, so be sure they’re a good fit!
Want to know more about the digital world? We offer a digital marketing training course which will bring you up to speed on everything there is to know about influencers, and more, which will help boost your brand’s digital presence and leave you an expert in your field.
The IIEPD provide a diverse range of CPD accredited digital marketing courses. Unlike other digital marketing training programs, IIEPD provides learners with a host of different digital marketing training resources including access to the IIEPD Influencer Affiliate Program, the IIEPD Influencer Network and subsidised digital marketing services from Pie Analysis.
For more information, get in contact with IIEPD today.