Influencer Marketing has been around longer than you might expect. One of the first recorded instances of influencer marketing took place in the 1760s, when a local potter, Josiah Wedgwood, made a tea set for Queen Charlotte, branding himself as “Potter to the Queen.”
The stamp of approval from the royal family launched his identity as a luxury brand, making him quite the sought after potter. Jumping forward to the 1900s, Chanel transformed the fashion industry and cemented herself as a fashion icon with her black dresses and casual chic clothing. Eventually, influencer marketing began evolving into what we are more familiar with today — whether it’s Michael Jordan teaming up with Nike to sell athletic apparel, or Kendall Jenner becoming the face of those controversial Pepsi campaigns.
The point I’m making is you have been witnessing various forms of influencer marketing, whether consciously or subconsciously, for your entire life.
In May of 2019, Merriam-Webster officially added the word “influencer” to the dictionary. B2C companies have been using this form of marketing for quite some time, yet B2B companies have been slow to jump on the train. So what exactly is an influencer, and is influencer marketing something you should be incorporating into your marketing strategy? The short answer: absolutely 100% yes.Most companies are already using #InfluencerMarketing without even realizing it. @Jake_RBM breaks down influencer campaigns and why you should be incorporating them into your marketing strategies: Click To Tweet
What Exactly Is Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a way of guiding or inspiring consumer (or business) behavior in a less explicit way. By using credible individuals, people with loyal social media followings, or dedicated industry experts, influencer marketing sets out to sell the idea your product or service is something to be trusted and desired.
Think of influencer marketing as a kind of hybrid of marketing strategies — it combines newer trends in marketing of using endorsement-based approaches while remaining true to older methods of content-driven campaigns.
Bonus Material: Check out this compilation of the most innovative Influencer Marketing campaigns of 2019. See how major brands, individuals, and designers are creating captivating campaigns everyone is discussing.
Influencer Marketing + B2B
You might be thinking influencer marketing is something better suited to the B2C environment, rather than the B2B world. This COULD NOT be farther from the truth. Most B2B companies are already using a form of influencer marketing without even realizing it — referrals.
Client referrals are a small but effective way to guide new client behaviors. Word-of-mouth continues to be a cost-effective and highly powerful strategy for driving new sales. Still, there are a plethora of innovative ways your company can engage and interact with clients without breaking your bank. Some ideas include:
Having subject matter experts (SME) write featured articles for your blog or website is a great way to incorporate influencer marketing in the B2B environment. Promoting their content on your platform drives their social following to your site, and showcases your product or solution as something the SME trusts and recommends.
Recent research indicates blogs as some of the best performing influencer marketing platforms — 37% more effective than other social media sites. This is a great way to spark relationships within your industry.
Tip: When entering discussions surrounding guest contributors, establish your expectations early. Offer guidelines to the influencers such as preferred content length, desired tone, and a list of potential topics. This streamlines the conversation and will help you to determine a more firm pricing model for the partnership.
Hosting Conferences and Webinars
Just like featuring their content on your site, you can take your influencer marketing strategy a step farther and partner with an influencer to host a webinar or conference.
Webinars and conferences offer an opportunity for an influencer to engage with your clients and prospects directly and generate content specific to your company.
Tip: Always remember B2B and B2C influencer marketing is entirely different. Do NOT try to use the same tips and techniques used in the B2C world. When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, relevance is far more important than reach. Establish yourself as the industry expert by offering content from influencers who are SMEs in your field.
Trends In Influencer Marketing
As we look toward 2020, marketers expect to spend nearly $10 million on influencers alone. Clearly, influencer marketing is not slowing down. Here are a few trends to be aware of as you start to design new marketing strategies:
Focus On Smaller Things
Generalized influencer marketing is out, and niche marketing is in. Rather than spend your money and efforts targeting large, but unrelated audiences, focus your tactics on a smaller group. This hyper-focused marketing strategy offers you the chance to understand your audience in a more personalized method and create an intimate, trusting connection. As Forbes states, “fit over followers” is the mantra of 2020.
Tip: Look into partnering with nano (between 1k-5k followers) and micro (between 5k-10k followers) influencers. The audiences of these influencers tend to be much more highly engaged with their content and are typically more interested in the same topics. A bonus — these partnerships cost A LOT less.
Authenticity is the smartest and most effective strategy when it comes to influencer marketing. Your audience appreciates realistic content which resonates with their thoughts and feelings. Find ways to balance the visually-striking “perfect-looking” content with the raw, real content. You want to showcase your product or service in an organic yet desirable light.
Tip: Focus on storytelling as a tactic. Create content with influencers incorporating your product or service into a story. How do they use the product in their everyday life? How has it helped them? When did they first learn about the product? How did your company and the influencer come about this partnership? These are all questions in which can create compelling content for your audience.
Combine Multiple Ideas
Find ways to integrate influencer marketing into your current or future marketing strategies. The best campaigns interact with one another, creating a full-circle of content all related to and enhancing each other. Influencer marketing should improve your brand and overall strategy, not become your strategy. Remember to be flexible when working with influencers — sometimes they can offer incredibly innovative and successful ideas you hadn’t thought of before.In 2020, marketers are expected to spend nearly $10 million on influencers alone. @Jake_RBM offers insights into what #InfluencerMarketing is and how it can be used in a #B2B capacity: Click To Tweet
Remember: You can and should be using employees in an influencing capacity. Asking employees to re-share content, create content for the company, and connect with individuals in the industry is an incredible way to promote your material. Research has found employee re-shares of company content has more than double the click-through rate of the original post.
Influencer marketing is something B2B companies can and should incorporate into their marketing strategies. Take the time to speak with your marketing team about ways you can use influencers to transform your current campaigns.