In recent years, the influencer marketing industry has grown exponentially, and is expected to become a 10 billion dollars market in 2020. Marketers, agencies, and brands of all sizes are investing great efforts in influencer campaigns – which when done right, can produce results that are both profitable and impactful.
However, influencer marketing is often largely perceived for B2C (business-to-customers) at the moment. A quick scroll on Instagram would show no less than a handful of sponsored posts for beauty products, clothing, tech reviews, and services. Is there any space for B2B in the influencer marketing game? If so, how do B2B companies maneuver the unique tactics required for B2B to succeed in influencer marketing?
Be Realistic of Your Expectations
The biggest difference between B2C and B2B is the purchasing process, which is directly related to the purchasing decision. Consumer brands can benefit from a link that influencers include in their Instagram story, or a discount code mentioned in a Youtube video. This link can send followers and subscribers directly to the product or service page, where buying decisions take only a few seconds or minutes.
For B2B companies, people don’t tend to go directly to your website and buy software or service. This purchasing process can involve many people and departments, which could take up to months from start to end. For this reason, you should set your expectations realistically in terms of timeline and performance. According to analysts at Convince and Convert, B2C results can be expected as quickly as 30 days, while B2B results can take at least 6 months.
Fortunately, the process of influencer marketing for B2B isn’t entirely too different from the B2C world. We always encourage brands to start with influencers who already love and use your products, and the same goes for B2B companies. Who are your existing clients? Are you already having a good relationship with them? Are you open to a referral program with existing clients in exchange for a brand mention or even partnerships?
Most importantly, these clients are already familiar and most likely in love with your products and services. Do your clients have a blog on their business website? Who are the key decision-makers in your clients’ companies? There are many ways you could collaborate with your clients: have them write authentic, thoughtful reviews on your website, a mention on their blog, or even case studies, and many more.
Choose the Right Influencer
Of course, however, a big part of influencer marketing is reaching out to influencers who can advocate for your product – even when they are not yet your clients. In order to know which kind of influencers your company needs to look for, you need to take a step back and inspect this word: “advocate.”
Who would be the person to advocate for your product and brand? Here are some ideas:
- What kind of influencers would your typical client follow? From there, you can search for thought leaders within your industry, organizations that frequently publish the latest industry news, related businesses whose clients most likely benefit from your product, etc.
- After that, consider whether they have promoted this kind of product in the past. It is most ideal if they are an advocate for the general industry news and information. However, if they have promoted your competitor in the past, you might want to skip.
- What is their reach? This includes both their following size and the engaged audience on their platform. Is your budget suitable for a well-known opinion leader with hundreds of thousands of followers? Or should you go for mid-size and micro-influencers, who have a closer relationship with their communities?
- What about their audience? We don’t expect nor suggest you go through every single follower these influencers have. With that said, understanding the general audience demographics can remarkably help in determining an ideal influencer. For example, what is the ideal age range for the nature of your company? How about the audience’s location data?
Content is Key
It is tempting to have an influencer post every single detail about your product and company on their Instagram. However, that type of information doesn’t work very well on social media. The audience wants to see and hear content relating to them, which essentially means the content has to be informational yet fun and engaging enough to the general public.
Influencers can help to create content that is credible and relatable to your targeted audience. Unlike an ad, influencers can provide your brand with a human voice, which is not only authentic but also much more memorable – which is extremely valuable to a B2B company.
In order to achieve this, you should let the influencer have the creative freedom (while, of course, set up a basic guideline for them to base their publication on.) The influencer is a thought leader and excellent content creator because they know how to deliver information to the public – and that’s exactly why you chose to work with them in the first place.
Long Term Collaboration
Long term collaborations are generally encouraged when it comes to influencer marketing, and especially so for B2B companies. As mentioned before, B2B influencer marketing can take at least 6 months to produce results, so consistency is the key ingredient for the best outcome.
Ideally, long term collaborations help the audience see your brand more frequently and consistently, which has proven to be exponentially more effective than seeing an ad only once. Additionally, B2B products often require a more elaborated description, for that reason, multiple publications could break all this information into bite-size, deliverable materials.
Lastly, in reality, there are many more influencers who are able to talk about consumer products than those in the B2B industries. For this reason, having long term collaborations with a few influencers tend to happen naturally for B2B companies anyway. Fortunately, long term collaborations can save your company time and money down the line. You can read more about how to grow influencer relationships and benefit in the long term here: “Nurturing the Perfect Relationship with Your Influencers”
The bottom line is that B2B brands shouldn’t shy away from influencer marketing. In fact, with the right influencers and campaigns, your business can reach just the right audience to exponentially drive up your ROI. With AI-powered technology, Upfluence can take your influencer marketing campaigns to the next level by helping you find the right influencers, analyze their audience data, reach out and nourish influencer relationships, as well as track and manage your campaigns. Are you ready to explore what influencer marketing can offer?