The validity of influencer marketing campaigns is becoming increasingly apparent every day. Many consumer brands such as Coke, Chipotle, Johnnie Walker, and Calvin Klein have found success with popular influencers, but what about B2B influencer marketing?
Does B2B influencer marketing work? Of course it does.
The ability of brands to create strong relationships through this word-of-mouth tactic is proving to be a profitable channel. A Nielsen report confirms this, stating, “The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family.”
For years, B2B brands have leveraged the power of case studies and testimonials as thought leadership initiatives in order to convince prospects to purchase their products.
The power of the opinions of respected people in various industries has always carried a lot of weight, especially in businesses where the products and solutions sometimes have price tags over a million dollars. B2B prospects want to know if other people like them have purchased, why they bought it, and how it’s working for them.
Influencer marketing really isn’t new for the B2B sector.
The difference is now the reach is so much broader. B2B brands sometimes don’t fully understand the power of social media for their companies. And when you try to pair the unknown entity of an influencer with a social media channel, they can get a little hesitant. But there are B2B brands that are working influencer marketing very well.
Software giant SAP recently used influencer marketing to promote their annual user group conference by partnering with influencers in various industries who agreed to create thought leadership content related to the conference. Live video content streamed from their Facebook page garnered them an audience of 80,000+ people.
Tech giant IBM has tapped into one of the company’s most powerful influencer groups—its employees. Its goal was to empower them to share engage with company content on their social media sites. This relatively simple initiative drove 50,000 new registrations for their IBM Verse product within the first two weeks of launching the program.
The IBM example shows that influencers may be closer than you think — and in greater numbers than you think. In consumer influencer marketing, influencers tend to be celebrities or average people who have become online celebrities. In the B2B world, the influencers are more low-key, not digital celebrities.
Just look for respected people in your industry. Who are the thought leaders? Are they respected? Who do they try to emulate? Those will be great starts for generating an influencer relationship. And don’t neglect your own backyard. Employees are great, of course, but also C-level executives or anyone who has a presence in the industry.
The key to successful B2B influencer marketing campaigns is to first adopt an authentic position. Then have your messages delivered by someone respected in your industry. The rest will really come naturally. You’ll also be surprised at the responses receive. It all happens because you reached out on a human level with authenticity, trust, and respect. And shouldn’t we be doing that anyway?