Influencer marketing is a key component in a strong digital marketing strategy, and there is plenty of information out there outlining how to find influencers and set up your campaign. The problem: most of the info out there is focused on B2C marketing, and, truth is, it doesn’t work for B2B brands the same way it does for B2C. You can’t just take any influencer and plug them into your strategy and hope for the best.
It’s easy to find somewhat influential people online, but you have to dig deeper to discover true influencers that will enhance your brand. And that doesn’t mean you have to start looking for celebrities and paying massive rates.
This post will explore 10 important criteria you should examine when identifying influencers for your B2B brand. Let’s get started!
1.Keep thinking about your end goal.
Before you even try to find compatible influencers for your brand, you must thoroughly understand what you want to accomplish. The outcome of your decisions, good or bad, will not only affect your company but your customers as well. How your brand makes them feel and their overall experience can put you on a new level or set you back. So you have to plan your B2B marketing strategy with the end game in your mind.
Identifying the end goal beforehand will help you determine the type of influencer you need and what you can expect to gain from your relationship with them. You’ll both want to know what you’ll be getting out of the relationship. Coming in with a plan will save time and lead you in the right direction and to the right influencer.
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2. Stay up to date on your niche market.
To prevent your presence from being drowned out by the masses, you have to know what’s going on in your industry and stay two steps ahead. You should know that following relevant and current trends is highly beneficial for your brand, and who you choose to work with should agree. Keeping a watchful eye on the content directed to your target audience will narrow down your search for apt influencers and make it that much easier.
You should also monitor your competition and take advantage of the areas they have left unserviced. Track popular hashtags and specific industry terms to know how you can get around and in front of your competitors. Take stock of the businesses they reference, subtopics they may engage in, and even the influencers they may be using. What influencer will bring something different to the table?
Are your potential influencers thought leaders in a field relevant to your market? Are they keeping up with trending topics? Sometimes micro-influencers gather more engagement for a B2B brand because they have more focused expertise over their niche.
This leads us to the next point.
3. Find influencers who have authority in their field.
A good influencer is someone who knows what they’re doing. Would you put the fate of your brand in the hands of someone who doesn’t have a clue about your business or the audience you want to capture? No, of course not.
You would, however, trust an expert. An influencer with expertise in your niche market can talk with authority and make a more significant impact on their audience—your customers. And that’s precisely what you want; that’s the influencer you want to reach before your competitors do.
The kind of influencer you should want for your brand is one whose opinion matters to their following. They are experts in their field, and their statements carry meaning, which is excellent for your brand. You should be confident that whoever you choose is reaching the exact people who are most likely to engage with your brand and make a purchase.
4. Think of the quality, not the quantity.
Influencer marketing will work for B2B companies, but it all depends on credibility and relevance, not follower count (sometimes that data can be bought and artificially presented). While it does play a role in your influencer selection, a large following means nothing if only a few are engaged.
The thousands of followers you see on the surface of a popular influencer’s account may be less responsive than the followers of a less sparkly but much more respected micro-influencer thought leader who has an audience hanging on every word. Which one would you be more drawn to?
5. Do your due diligence.
You’ll need to do a bit of digging to ensure you know who you’re bringing to your brand, and that includes background checks. Make it a goal to take a deep dive into the influencer’s engagement count, relevance, and education over your B2B’s specific niche.
Background checks are essential for two reasons. Some influencers may not be genuine with their intentions and could be lying about their relevant expertise. A thorough Google search will help clear out anyone who is not a good fit. The second reason for doing background research on your influencers is to explore different channels where they could have a presence. They might have their own blogs that you overlooked when they first caught your eye. You want to know as much as you can, including if they have any existing connections with competitor brands. Although it seems tedious, don’t ignore performing a thorough background check. It’s better to be safe than sorry and damage your brand’s image.
6. Ask how they got their influence.
If you want to build trust with your influencer, you need to know how they built their brand and gained a following. How did they initially become influential? How did they find and cultivate their niche? How often do they interact with their followers?
It is key to understand why they’re influential, who is following them—and whether their followers will take action based on their recommendations.
7. Track who has the most engagement.
Having a sizable following is good, but you have to focus on engagement rates. Are they having real interactions with real consumers, or is part of their base lifeless bots?
An essential element of finding ideal influencers is looking at followers who actively engage with them by posting, commenting, or utilizing other forms of social sharing. Additionally, it’s just as important to see who is responding to their followers, having a conversation about topics relevant to your brand, and what behaviors they are encouraging. Are they someone you want to represent your brand?
Influencers should be publishing content regularly if they are genuinely “influencing” their audience. If an influencer hasn’t mastered the art of conversation on social media, they will not do well when interacting on behalf of your company, which is part of the job.
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8. Frequently evaluate the Reach, Resonance, and Relevance of your influencers.
Just like you want experts who know what they’re doing, you want to make sure your choice is the best fit for you. Three aspects go into picking the right influencer for your brand:
- Reach. How much overlap is there between your audience and their followers? How well known are they across the industry? Are they engaging with their following and vice versa?
- Resonance. How much weight does their opinion carry, and do people actually care about what they say? Do they tend to lead and shape industry conversation?
- Relevance. How relevant are the influencer’s areas of expertise and interest to the topics you want to discuss with your audience?
Asking and answering these questions will shorten your list as you evaluate the people you’re interested in.
9. Don’t be afraid to call on technology.
If you need a little extra push to find the influencers you’re looking for, technology is right there to help. A basic Google search will give you a few pages of quality content to start with, but it can be easy to fall down the rabbit hole.
Tools like BuzzStream and Ninja Outreach can crawl millions of social messages and algorithmically identify the people who have the best combination of reach, audience size, popularity, and topical relevance. These tools can show that a potential influencer is actually publishing content on the topics that relate to your business.
10. Keep the momentum going.
Once most of your marketing strategy has been set into place, the real work for your B2B influencer marketing can begin. Taking on an “always-on” strategy instead of a short-term approach makes a lifelong commitment to clients and customers, creating avid fans. This kind of thinking utilizes a special touch only people can provide.
The right influencer can help get you to the next level. Influencers can help maintain consumer relationships with your brand, weed out irrelevant data, and help adapt your marketing strategy for your target consumers, all while staying true to the brand’s mission.
Having a detailed list of what you want and expect from an influencer can tell you whether the relationship between your brand and the influencers you bring on will be short-lived or one that will stand the test of time.
Want some help on your search? Let us know!