Reality check: influencer marketing isn’t reserved for foodies and fashionistas anymore.
In fact, we’re seeing more and more influencers stake their claim throughout the business space.
Tech. Entrepreneurship. Digital marketing. The list goes on.
Given the effectiveness of influencer marketing for B2C, it’s no surprise that B2B brands have followed suites for the sake of promoting apps, courses, communities, and so much more.
And since a staggering 96% of B2B brands consider LinkedIn a valuable source of social leads, it’s become the go-to network for influencers.
In this guide, we’ll break down the basics of B2B influencer marketing on LinkedIn and how to get started.
What Exactly is B2B Influencer Marketing, Though?
Not so different from traditional influencer marketing, the idea here is simple: B2B brands develop relationships with prominent individuals in their respective industries. In turn, those individuals shout-out and promote that brand in exchange for compensation.
When we talk about B2B influencers on LinkedIn, we’re talking about people with established followings and communities (think: thousands of followers) that consistently score engagement on their posts. These individuals run the gamut from C-Level executives and marketing managers to freelancers and solo business owners.
Many of the biggest influencers on LinkedIn don’t necessarily label themselves as such. Contrast this to LinkedIn’s native influencer program which primarily consists of massive names in business and tech. Although these accounts are impressive, they don’t represent the sort of influencers that the average B2B brand could afford to work with.
Another key distinction between B2C and B2B influencer marketing is subtlety. Whereas B2C brands are usually pretty upfront about #ads and promos, B2B companies and influencers aren’t as in-your-face about who they’re promoting.
But as with any influencer relationship, relevancy matters. Just as it wouldn’t make sense for a SaaS CEO to promote skinny tea, B2B brands can’t just approach any influencer on LinkedIn and expect results. You have to not only find folks with engaged audiences, but also people who can seamlessly mention your brand or product without being spammy about it.
Why B2B Brands Should Work with LinkedIn Influencers
Again, LinkedIn is by far the biggest hub of B2B activity on social media. Most B2B brands are already there, so it makes sense to seek influencer relationships on the platform.
But why bother working with influencers? Why not put more resources into ads or organic content instead?
Good question! Let’s look at some of the key reasons to invest in B2B influencer marketing on LinkedIn.
Gain reach and engagement that wouldn’t be otherwise possible
This is the big one.
If you’re operating a single brand account on LinkedIn, your reach is limited only to those following you.
Even if you have a few employee advocates promoting content on your behalf, that performance pales in comparison to a LinkedIn influencer that’s consistently scoring engagement.
Influencers with hundreds of thousands of engagements know what they’re doing in terms of the LinkedIn algorithm. This sort of reach is nearly impossible for brand accounts, especially those with few employees without much industry pull.
Generate positive word of mouth
Positive word of mouth is a huge plus for brands, especially for those in the B2B space.
Think about how much SaaS companies rely on recommendations and shout-outs for the sake of growing their user base. Word of mouth serves as social proof and likewise helps new customers discover your product or service.
Consider that a good chunk of the modern B2B buyers’ journey involves doing independent research before making a purchase. Much of that research happens on social media, particularly LinkedIn. The more people singing your praises on social media, the better. Influencers can help in that department.
Humanize your brand
Piggybacking on the point above, having someone gush about your brand or tell your story is much more impactful than doing so yourself.
Most influencers on LinkedIn are fantastic storytellers and know how to speak to their audience in a way that resonates. Shout-outs in blog posts and publications are nice, but praise from industry players creates a valuable sense of authenticity for your brand.
Network and uncover new opportunities
If nothing else, B2B influencer marketing represents an opportunity to get introduced to more movers and shakers in your industry. LinkedIn is a notoriously effective channel for networking. By simply reaching out to and talking to influencers, you might uncover new business partnerships and opportunities.
What Types of Content do B2B Influencers Publish?
Again, LinkedIn influencers know exactly what to post to win likes, shares, and comments. The good news for brands is that many of the most popular types of content of LinkedIn are prime for shout-outs and company mentions.
Whether you’re a B2B company or an influencer looking to create content yourself, the types of below are the staples of LinkedIn influencer marketing.
Thought leadership posts
Thought leadership posts are the bread and butter of LinkedIn influencers. From hot takes and reactions to industry news, these types of bold posts involve taking a stance on an issue and driving conversations as a result.
In short, these types of posts cover recommended tools and services. Perfect for brand mentions, some recommendation posts list a variety of tools or are dedicated to shouting out a single one.
Tips and how-tos
In short, this is where influencers educate their audiences. For example, an influencer might share their process, explain how to tackle a task, or make an observation that their audience can take something away from. These posts are also great for brand mentions.
Questions and polls
Asking questions is proven to drive engagement and conversations on social media and it’s no different on LinkedIn. Simple and straightforward, questions and polls are all the rage for LinkedIn influencers.
Whether it’s a personal experience or story, these posts are how influencers humanize themselves and stand apart from the traditional “suit and tie” content on the platform. Storytelling posts often blend with thought leadership, starting with a personal anecdote that ends in business advice.
How to Identify Influencers on LinkedIn
There’s no shortage of influencers to work within the B2B space.
But because the definition of a LinkedIn influencer is pretty open-ended, finding potential partnerships can be overwhelming. Doing so requires a bit of legwork and research, so you need to know what to look for.
First thing’s first: spend some time scrolling through your personal or professional LinkedIn feed.
You might be surprised at influencers you already know or have secondhand connections with. If you realize that you have a 1st-degree connection with an influencer that’d be perfect with your brand, start there for outreach.
Next, conduct a search of hashtags and keywords relevant to your industry (think: “content marketing” or #remotework). Based on both connections and how much engagement an influencers’ content is getting, you can instantly see who has pull in your network.
Then, make a list of potential contacts and scroll through their profiles to ensure their engagement is consistent. Legitimate influencers post content regularly (think: daily or nearly daily) and should have a buzzing “Activity” feed, too.
As a side note, you can use someone’s LinkedIn title as a signal as to whether or not they’re an influencer accepting offers from brands. Keep in mind that many LinkedIn influencers will have creative titles or headlines, but rarely will anyone label themselves “LinkedIn Influencer” outright. On the flip side, those with full-time roles “Marketing Manager at [X Company]” might not be as open to a partnership.
If you want to save yourself some serious time finding influencers, take advantage of a platform like IZEAx Discovery. The upside of IZEAx Discovery is that you can browse influencers without having to worry about whether or not they want to work with brands. We not only make it a cinch to spot influencers relevant to your target audience, but also vet their engagement so you know they’re legitimate.
In short, you can find someone in a snap that fits your audience and budget without a ton of second-guessing.
Are You on Board with B2B Influencer Marketing?
As the B2B space grows more and more competitive, influencers are a creative way to stand out from the crowd and level up your LinkedIn marketing. If you haven’t already, check out IZEA to find a potential business partner to give your marketing a much-needed human touch.
What Incentives Can I Offer B2B Influencers to Work Together?
To wrap things up, it’s important to establish your goals for working with influencers before diving headfirst. You need to understand what you’re willing to invest in the relationship and what you’re looking to get out of it.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to compensating influencers. For example, it’s going to be much more expensive to develop an influencer campaign that pushes a specific number of users and trials to your product versus simply getting a shout-out in a post.
Whether it’s straight-up financial compensation, a demo or trial, or a combination of both, you need to be able to answer “What’s in it for me?” This speaks again to the benefit of using a platform like IZEA where influencers are upfront about their expectations, performance, and scope of work.