Much has been written lately about the state of influencers since the pandemic, particularly the move of many brands from celebrity to micro and macro influencers for B2C industries. Micro influencers have between 500 to 10,000 followers while macro influencers have as many as a million. The main reason cited for the transition is the amount of engagement both deliver to consumers as compared to celebrities.
Late to the Party
Unlike B2C, B2B has been late in utilizing social media and influencers to build their businesses. Those B2B companies already utilizing influencers have learned that smaller is better, too. In fact, some experts are not only recommending micro-influencers, but also nano influencers, those with less than a thousand followers. The focus isn’t just on sheer numbers and volume, but rather the fact that both groups are largely comprised of marketing-related professionals who understand how to cultivate and nurture potential customers.
The Perfect Fit
Like directors casting for a movie, B2B CMOs, too, need to find the ideal fit, influencers who match up with their marketing strategy. Marketers are already aware that people buy from folks they trust. 91% of respondents to a Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research study said they have made purchasing decisions based on WOM (word of mouth).
Influencers who have the ability to shape opinions among a brand’s target audience and who can successfully deliver credible content from their point of view come in a close second after ardent followers of a brand who spread the word among their followers. What adds to their power is their availability and amount of engagement.
Going Where the Market Is
B2B brands using influencers who are also marketers should expect to see posts on sites like LinkedIn where much marketing content and discussion appear. In deciding which one(s) to hire, look at their contacts, what industries they represent, the papers and posts written, the number of contacts, and professional recommendations to determine if they match up with the brand. A good influencer can also write and publish a case study or blog for the brand.
Influencers with a marketing background aren’t the only option. There are some “hidden” influencers who don’t know they’re influencers, particularly among engineers and inventors. If there are any highly followed folk who generate white papers, case studies, reports and even trends or technology within the industry, consider approaching and recruiting them as influencers. The one major thing they may be lacking and in need of help is the engagement part of influencing.
Because B2B influencer marketing got adopted later than B2C, there’s not yet a universal and agreed KPI for gauging success. Agreement must be reached within a brand on this. The most reasonable KPI measurement for brands hiring influencers is engagement. But in addition to that is tracking how often followers comment, tag, share and bookmark the influencer’s posts.
Area(s) of Expertise
Hiring a marketing-related influencer to help B2B business is even better if the influencer is experienced in the industry. It may mean seeking out an expert who has talked and written about the industry but never considered being an influencer. Like the “hidden” engineer or inventor, this influencer would have to be groomed about how and how often to write about the brand.