In today’s digital marketing landscape, consumers and businesses alike are assigning more and more power to a source they trust: the influencer.
Tomoson found that the majority of influencer marketing campaigns yield $6.50 for every dollar. High return on investment is one reason among many that marketers continue to increase their budget for influencer marketing. It’s clear that the promotional practice is now a big component of digital marketing.
While people are familiar with the influencer’s role in B2C marketing, B2B influencer marketing remains uncharted for some businesses. The reality is, influencer marketing is the missing ingredient for many B2B campaigns.
It’s common for consumers to try out different brands and experiment with products. B2B purchases, however, are calculated, planned, and concerned with long-term goals. Consider how a B2C Instagram post is able to prompt purchases almost instantly. This isn’t the case with business-to-business marketing. The sales cycles in B2B transactions are extensive, drawn-out processes.
Here is where the influencer becomes especially crucial with business-to-business initiatives: it is a standard practice for B2B buyers to make inquiries among peers even before making direct contact with a potential investment. These peer inquiries are taken seriously; they are treated like research. A B2B influencer becomes a critical data point in the B2B buyer’s research and cache of peer input.
In sum: because B2B purchases leave no room for trial and error, preliminary research in the form of peer input is frequently guided by B2B influencers.
We’ve put together a guide for you on how to best exercise B2B influencer marketing with case studies.
Choose experts over a “fresh voice”
Sometimes, companies are under the impression that an influencer far outside their organization is the key to innovation. But the best advocates can come in the form of existing customers, business partners, and, in the case of IBM, employees.
IBM’s clients work in banking, the tech industry, education, and more. What better group of influencers to reach this diverse clientele than IBM’s own employees? By being involved in the creation and distribution of products, the IBM employees’ social media presence established a high level of trust.
Observe current sources of influence and find the hidden ones
Find out who your customers currently trust as advisors. By determining who your customers are already reading, listening to, following, and watching, you can elect a relevant B2B influencer that will align with your customers’ consulted sources. Do your research, create as well as disseminate surveys, and look into new tools that allow you to hone in your industry’s present conversation.
Your B2B influencer needs to be primed for extensive exposure. This means looking at the influencer’s presence across all channels and if followers are further expanding a story’s exposure by sharing.
You also want to look at engagement. Depending on your needs, determine if an influencer with a large following but little engagement is more important to you than an influencer who has a small following but consistently engages.
The frequency of posting is also important to consider. You want your B2B influencer to regularly contribute on social media with relevant and timely content.
3.5M Likes in One Day: Microsoft & National Geographic
Microsoft partnered with National Geographic in 2017 for the “Make What’s Next Campaign” to inspire young girls to pursue disciplines in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field. With a substantial social media following and distinguished National Geographic photographers at their disposal, Microsoft’s commemoration of International Women’s Day was enormously successful.
This is how Microsoft and National Geographic strategized #MakeWhatsNext: Thirty photos were posted on five of National Geographic’s Instagram handles on International Women’s Day. The Instagram posts showed women breaking barriers in STEM. The photo captions also included information about “natgeo personalities” teaching free workshops in select Microsoft stores. Roughly 300 girls attended.
On International Women’s Day, the thirty photos received over 3.5 million likes. The campaign received more than 150 million social and digital impressions on the National Geographic distribution channels and 4 million social engagements.
Microsoft was wise to partner with the number one brand on social media, and that too for an amazing and inspiring cause.
“Love My Store:” American Express
AmEx is known for involving well-known influencers in their messaging, like Tina Fey and Martin Scorsese. In 2015, American Express launched the “Love My Store” campaign to help small businesses inform customers they accepted AmEx. Small businesses immensely benefit from this kind of advertising: 67% of card owners say they are more likely to purchase from a store when the front door or front window makes it known that they can pay with American Express.
Grace Booney, the small-business owner and blogger behind Design Sponge, created a series of AmEx decals. In addition to publicizing the designated store accepts American Express, the decals supplied information about the small business itself. HGTV host Emily Henderson made videos about how to increase a store’s foot-traffic with design. American Express also hosted a social media photo contest for small business owners. The winner received $10,000 and a consultation with Henderson.
Thousands of small business owners submitted photos with the #LoveMyStoreAmexContest hashtag. The social channels earned over 50,000 social engagements from small business owners.
B2B marketing need not be somber. AmEx engaged, educated, and had fun doing it.
VideoFruit and the power of guest blogging
VideoFruit creates software and other products to help companies grow their email list.
Bryan Harris, the founder of VideoFruit, wrote a piece for Noah Kagan’s Okdork in 2014. The day Harris’s post went live, VideoFruit’s page views increased over 500 percent, and unique page views increased over 600 percent. The average visitor time also increased over 8 percent.
B2B influencer marketing, in the form of guest blogging, is extremely effective. Rather than waiting for an influencer to come to him, or requesting an influencer submit a written piece for VideoFruit, Bryan Harris recognized Kagan’s influence in the digital world, and came to Kagan ready with content. VideoFruit not only gained exposure, but a newfound credibility.
Influencers help put a human face to B2B marketing. By telling real stories, making genuine connections, and educating new audiences, B2B influencer marketing makes business-to-business transactions and interactions more human, and hence, more successful.