Business-to- business (or B2B) influencer marketing isn’t a new concept, yet we still see many companies, big & small, struggling and not finding the right way to do it.
Influencer marketing remains as a popular query on search engines, and we continue to see collaborations between brands and referents of all ages, especially among the young Gen Z.
From this we can guess that the strategy still has a lot of potential, yet many marketers complain about how challenging it is. Is it about a lack of self-confidence and experience? Or is it that we still have a lot to learn?
We highlight industry best practices and offer recommendations for those brands working to develop their B2B marketing strategies through social media.
What differentiates B2B Influencer marketing from B2C IM?
It is more correct to use the term “opinion leaders” for the B2B market instead of Influencer. Usually (but not exclusively) we found these campaigns on LinkedIn.
They are recognized users who have a certain expertise in a process or industry and talk about this on a daily or regular basis. The purpose of creating campaigns with these experts is to reach the people who follow them and are part of the companies we are targeting.
Why Companies Believe in B2B influencer Marketing.
The pandemic crisis and the limitation of face to face tactics (events, experiential marketing, etc.) demanded to move efforts towards digital channels. A place where buyers live and look for information. And here’s when influencers come in as valuable and trusted allies, to deliver the brand’s message. The influencers already have the attention and the trust of the audiences, that’s why collaborations with these industry referents can help brands get the reach, engagement and confidence that they work so hard for. Most B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing improves customer experience with the brand yet a few run ongoing campaigns. Customer experience is a top priority for B2B brands but these usually lack confidence in how much an influencer’s influences on their audience.Developing long term relationships and building a community needs trust. Carrying brand activation with already trusted referents serves customers with credible information about you. This inspires confidence and consideration for the brand represented.
Dive Into Social Media to Catch Up and Connect With the New Audiences: Gen Z
The social selling approach started with B2C brands but slowly moved into the B2B world as well, as SM users are actually carrying out their own enterprises and business. Influencer marketing is becoming more important every day for building brand loyalty and to connect with new audiences like Gen Z, the new increasing public. Even though they share the same digital environment, millennials and Gen Zers work quite differently. This audience needs a lot more development, more credibility, and much more engagement compared to any other market we have observed so far. They’re likely to constitute an astounding 40% of the SM public by the end of 2020. Since they believe in colleagues a lot more than brands, your current B2B brand’s sales division could have way more opportunities to connect with Gen Z. If they communicate through a prospect: a mutual connection. This particular, needless to say, is not a fresh idea. Excellent sales agents have usually depended upon relationships-creating to draw potential clients. But if in the past this was reserved to specific industries, today influencer marketing is becoming a must strategy for just any brand seeking to reach this audience.
Forget About the Clicks and Concentrate on the Individuals
The platforms on their own, have been changing their data system, and leaving aside the indicators they were using so far (clicks, shares). We’ve seen Instagram hiding the likes, remember? Although these changes obliged us to change our tracking system, they actually point out that what really changed are the public’s behavior and consumption, and with these, the SM marketing’s perspective. For instance, think about the increase associated with micro- and nano-influencers (2K and 50K followers). Businesses who are up to date already recognize the value that this kind of influencers represent for their brands.
The reason is that this type of influencers have a tightly focused niche, greater authenticity, and highly engaged followings. They may not get as many likes as a massive influencer, but the interactions they get translate into more ROI and brand awareness, as they are closer to their audiences. In accordance with Hubspot, Gen Z are native digital and social networks matter to them more than to any other group. Also, they prefer the relevance and respect of a local community more than its numbers (followers, likes). So if you want to connect with Gen Z and new audiences, simply set aside old measures like clicks, and put your focus on engagement and connections.
How to carry on a successful B2B influencer marketing campaign?
Influencer Marketing is still new for many B2B companies. This is why we see so many misleading or inefficient campaigns. Even some are intermittent or cut before time, and others just look out of place, seeming to make no sense at all. Here are some reasons:
- Misconception and confusion
B2B influencer marketing is not like modelling or advertising. A B2B influencer campaign is more like a brand ambassadorship. This is a relationship between two businesses and needs actual trust. The influencer needs to be sure of giving real value to their audiences.
- The lack of technology in the processes
It’s still a new discipline for many brands, and they develop the process manually and without tracking and comparing results. There are AI solutions and platforms to identify the right influencers and manage the campaigns in an efficient way. Only 35% of marketers are using software for these purposes.
- Inefficient influencer identification
This is a very common struggle and is related to the poor use of technology and lack of marketing experience. Most brands carry the selection without any data validation or without asking the right question: who the target is!
Many B2B marketers also have challenges managing ongoing or long term influencer relationships. Instead, they tend only to engage for intermittent or punctual campaigns. In fact, only 19% of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer engagement programs. And with no persistence and time, it’s unlikely to see results.
A lot of brands are still not using B2B influencer marketing to anywhere near its full potential. And that’s why it may not be bringing the desired results to some brands. But we can not deny the value they can provide to B2B companies, to connect with new audiences who are digital natives, and to build a trusted community for the brand. By implementing software to help with influencer identification and tracking, implementing long term campaigns with influencer, and continually nurturing these relationships, B2B marketers can start getting the results they want from this powerful strategy.