Why B2B influencer marketing should be part of your strategy
We know that some consumers have an inherent distrust of what brands tell them. So why should your business be any different?
When it comes to trust, word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool. According to data from Nielsen, 92 per cent of people are more likely to trust word of mouth over any other form of advertising. This is where B2B influencer marketing can make the difference.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing uses genuine expertise to drive visibility and credibility for a business. It generates content that relates to the customer, not the seller.
Influencer marketing campaigns have been proven to generate 11 times the return on investment than other marketing strategies. However, only 49 per cent of B2B companies are engaging with influencers as part of digital marketing campaigns.
Before you establish whether influencer marketing is right for your business, it’s important to unpack the term.
Influencer marketing versus celebrity endorsement marketing
There is some crossover between influencer marketing and celebrity product endorsement. There are also grey areas – but there are crucial differences between the two.
Where celebrity endorsement attaches the fame of a celebrity to a product in an effort to sell to followers of the individual, influencer marketing uses word-of-mouth advertising to promote the integrity of a brand or product within a specific community.
In a piece of influencer marketing, the message is coming from the influencers mouth to create a sense of authenticity. Celebrity endorsement will see a famous individual merely carrying the brand’s message.
Influencers are specialists in their field, while a celebrity’s fame is the selling point. Be aware that blurring the boundary could provoke distrust from your customer and potentially damage your brand.
Successful B2B influencer marketing examples
To give you some B2B influencer marketing ideas, we’ve unpicked lessons from three successful campaigns to help you find the right ambassador for your brand.
On International Women’s Day 2017, Microsoft teamed up with National Geographic to launch #MakeWhatsNext. The Instagram-only campaign showcased 30 female scientists and adventurers to motivate women to participate in STEM subjects.
The influencing didn’t end on social media. Many of the women featured provided free workshops with Microsoft offline.
Photo by @amivitale | In the incubator room at Bifengxia panda base, part of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, cub keeper Liu Juan nuzzles a furry charge. Despite the pressure of keeping the babies alive and well, there are rare moments when the caretakers get to relax and enjoy the animals that depend on them. It's an important and stressful job and Liu Juan is working a 24-hour shift, her second one that week. She has a toddler son who stays at home with family. “This job is more intense,” she says of mothering the pandas, “but I love being with them.” After decades of hard work and research and because of the work of people like Liu Juan, the giant panda was recently taken off the endangered species list. #InternationalWomensDay – @Microsoft – Empowering girls to change the world, stay in STEM, and be the ones to #MakeWhatsNext. Microsoft welcomes girls for a free workshop with @natgeo personalities at select Microsoft stores on 3/18. Visit makewhatsnext.com for details. #IWD2017 #sponsored
By collaborating with the number one social media brand, Microsoft reached 91 million users across National Geographic’s five Instagram accounts with #MakeWhatsNext, earning an impressive 3.5 million likes on launch day alone.
Microsoft successfully leveraged National Geographic’s brand integrity by showcasing powerful imagery and timed its message with an international campaign for an authentic story.
A well-known investor into both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns, American Express decided to engage with the design community to remind customers that even the smallest businesses accept credit cards.
The “Love My Store” campaign saw the bank collaborate with Grace Bonney from the Design*Sponge blog to produce a range of new AmEx shopfront decals for small business owners. AmEx also produced a video series with a celebrity designer to help shopkeepers merchandise their store.
By successfully partnering with two respected influencers in the interior design space, American Express won a surge of demand from small business owners. It saw 400,000 orders for decals and 5 million online impressions for the campaign.
LinkedIn doesn’t always spring to mind when thinking of the most influential social media platforms. However, a community of 61 million influencers and 40 million decision makers has seen it become a powerful player in the world of social media influencing.
The professional network’s 48-page Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn was published as a collaboration with B2B influencers in the fields of social media and digital marketing, offering insight from sought-after individuals.
LinkedIn’s own authority as an influencer was strengthened by the inclusion of experts at the end of each chapter. They offered their personal experiences of using the platform to generate business.
Who is a good influencer for your brand?
As the Microsoft campaign demonstrated, authenticity is key. Although it’s become somewhat of a marketing buzzword, it’s vital to collaborate with individuals who have a genuine connection with your brand.
An influencer who buys into a business’ product and values is far more likely to convey its messages in an authentic way. At the same time, effective B2B influencer marketing requires somebody who actively engages with their community.
How influencer marketing can generate leads for a B2B company
Despite the many differences between B2B and B2C audiences, the purchasing decisions taken by a business are still made by an individual, and influenced in similar ways to a consumer. The final purchasing decision comes down to the same equation – trust.
Using a brand influencer can bring this integrity to your own marketing campaigns.
For other expert insight and tailored advice for micro companies, head over to our Business Advice website.