How to run B2B influencer marketing in 2019
There’s no doubt the world of influencer marketing needs a reboot.
A lack of transparency, rocketing fees and questionable ROI are amongst the many reasons brands are questioning how to approach influencer engagement. In some cases, brands maybe questioning whether or not to use influencers full stop.
The rules are evolving all the time too. We were reminded of this at the start of July, when the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority ruled the threshold between social media and celebrity status on is 30,000 followers.
The clarification was necessary due to specific restrictions preventing celebrity endorsements of medicines that do not apply to influencers.
Above 30,000 followers and you can’t endorse medical products. Below and you can continue to do so, following ASA guidelines around paid partnerships.
B2B influencer marketing
In B2B tech, influencer marketing trails the consumer world by some margin, but I don’t believe that’s a bad thing.
Arguably, B2B marketers can learn from the good and bad experiences of consumer brands to usher in a new era of meaningful and impactful influencer engagement.
If this is an area on your radar for the next 12 months here are some thoughts on what you need to consider.
Why influencer marketing?
Before deciding to work with influencers, be crystal clear on what you need to drive as a business outcome. It can help to think of influencer marketing as a channel at this stage in the strategy.
This can focus your thinking on who you want to reach and what action you need to drive. Evaluating influencer marketing against other channels, such as media relations or traditional and digital marketing, will also reveal whether you should go down this route at all.
For example, if you want to drive link clicks, you’d be better served by using paid social to target scale audiences.
If, however, you want to reach a niche audience and build credibility there, influencers can prove invaluable.
Think beyond Instagrammers
The role of Instagram in shaping influencer marketing is clear, but it’s not the only platform in the game.
All the major social platforms, events and independent blogs have a role to play. So too do forums, LinkedIn Groups, analysts and journalists.
Rather than focusing on any given platform, though, identify the audience you want to reach and where they are spending their time.
In some cases, Instagram will be spot on – even for a B2B tech brand – but in others you might need to put several platforms in the mix.
Switching influencer marketing off and on again
Many brands opt instead to work with them for specific campaign activations.
On the surface that makes a lot of sense, especially when it comes to the costs that can be associated with activating influencer marketing.
But, as with more traditional PR and media relations, building an always on approach helps develop more authentic and credible relationships with the audiences you want to reach.
Rather than activating the relationships when your brand has a launch, set out to create an ongoing programme of engagement. And that leads me neatly onto my next point.
Micro-influencers: The end of boom and bust?
Budget considerations often lead marketers to focus on their influecner marketing efforts on eye-catching launches.
But this concentrates budget and audience engagement on a single moment. It gives the brand only a fleeting appearance in front of the target audiences.
The discipline works best when there’s a natural and authentic place for the brand in the influencer’s life. That means having a more consistent presence over time.
In the consumer world, the Adidas Tango Squad is a great example of nurturing and partnering with talent to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.
Brands are increasingly focusing on audience relevance and this has given rise to the micro-influencer.
These people have high levels of credibility amongst specific, often relatively small groups or communities. They are experts in a given field and when they talk, post and comment, it carries a lot of weight. They can prove far more cost effective to work with too.
Through micro-influencers, managed on an ‘always on’ basis, B2B tech brands can achieve credibility and cut through over time, and do so far more cost-effectively than pushing for the occasional big splash.
Under your nose
With all this talk of influencer activity don’t underestimate the role your employees can play as an influencer in their own right.
These are people who might traditionally have been used as spokespeople. Now they can build their own following and engage directly with audiences, often building and maintaining relationships with prospects.
Enabling these individuals – getting them onboard with your company’s mission – is one of the most sustainable ways of building credibility among prospects and customers alike.