I’m also not here to dissect the difference between ‘influencing’ and ‘being an influencer’ (although it would make for an interesting philosophical debate on the commodification of influence, but that’s for another blog).
I’m here to shine a light on the latest evolutions in the ‘business of influence’.
The concept is not new and has been around for decades, specifically in the B2B context where the buying process is longer. Those key individuals securing leads, making sales or increasing brand awareness have always existed. But now, with the evolution of social media, influencers’ reach has expanded and so have our opportunities to collaborate with them.
From brand awareness and lead generation to brand reputation and advocacy, influencers can impact every stage of your customer lifecycle.
Pretty powerful, right? 90% of brands agree and are looking to increase their budget for influencer activity. B2B marketers need to be ready for this!
Here are some routes to explore if you’re considering working with B2B influencers.
Co-create and amplify your content
Brands are often in need of fresh perspectives and influencers can do just that – act as the sounding board for your campaign and bring in an outsider’s perspective. Influencers can immerse themselves in the sales cycle and help provide B2B brands with awareness and insights as well as solutions.
Co-creation brings influencers into the process at an earlier stage, making their amplification feel more authentic and creating a win-win situation. Brands gain reach and engagement, and the influencers improve their credibility by association with the brand.
Influencer amplification also presents deeper storytelling opportunities, humanising brand stories and bridging the gap between brand and customer. Furthermore, with content strategy being a long-term approach, the co-created content will have a lengthy lifespan, improving SEO optimisation.
Recruit brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors can act as the face of your brand, representing your interests and guarding your reputation in the market. Their affiliation can attract other valuable individuals to join your community and widen your reach. A great relationship with your brand ambassadors can even become an extension of your PR team, helping you convey messages effectively, especially in times of crisis.
Moderate events or podcasts
Podcasts and live events are very intimate mediums with a more conversational format. They present a great opportunity for brands to advertise in an authentic way where influencers give your key messages airtime in a way that enriches your content. This approach increases brand warmth and engagement with the audiences.
Secure product and service endorsement
With B2B buying decisions being influenced by word of mouth, it’s no surprise that we would rather buy from people instead of companies. Influencers can be the trusted faces of the products, services and even ideas you’re trying to amplify. Their expertise can provide the credibility your brand needs to guide your customers onto the next stage of the funnel or provide that last nudge which leads to a sale.
Turn your employees into in-house influencers
Employees are your biggest asset! I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but in this context, they are the experts of your brand. They’re often best positioned to discuss your products and services with in-depth knowledge and passion. They work directly with the brand and may even be the brains behind the design. Promoting their expert thought leadership is likely boost your brand’s awareness and reputation.
Now that you’re equipped with ways of deploying influencers across your campaigns and business strategy, here are some things to consider when choosing them:
- Do their values align with the brand?
- How relevant and substantial is their audience/reach?
- Is their audience in a target geography or demographic?
- Are they subject matter experts?
- Do they frequently produce good quality content?
- Are they charismatic? Creative? Personable?
- Have they worked with competitors before?
- What’s their preferred platform?
- What are their engagement rates and reach?
- Are they comfortable working across multiple forms of content?
- What’s their tone and clarity of voice? This is specifically important when recording content for SEO voice optimisation!
Like it or not, the business of influence is likely to become an essential and integral part of B2B marketing strategies moving forward. The ‘influence advantage’ can be left to develop at random or proactively nurtured. I think we both know which option we’d encourage you to take!