As we collect data for the new State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, it remains to be seen whether last year’s 96% of B2B marketers feeling confident about influencer marketing will come out, especially after the effects of the pandemic. With the shift in B2B go to market models towards digital first, influencer engagement has increased for many marketers as an alternative to spending on field marketing, real-world events and trade shows.
As B2B buyers increasingly rely on digital sources of information, stats like 74% of B2B marketers say influencer marketing impacts customer and prospect experience, become even more important. While that confidence before and since the pandemic has opened doors to many more B2B brands experimenting with, piloting and becoming more familiar with influencer engagement, that increase in activity has increased competition. So how can B2B brands raise the bar on their influencer marketing efforts?
Here’s a pretty compelling statistic from the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report:
12X more B2B marketers are very successful running Always-On influencer programs vs. those who engage periodically.
Always-On Influencer Marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy. The importance of Always-On influence is more important than ever in a customer centric world of B2B Marketing. As Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce says,
“Always-On thought leadership and influence are more important now than ever because the customer never turns off.” @briansolis
In our research and survey of hundreds of B2B marketers, we found some key benefits of an Always-On approach to working with B2B influencers:
- 75% Increased views of brand content
- 70% Improved credibility of brand content
- 60% Increased share of voice
- 55% Increased media mentions of brand
- 50% Increased brand advocacy
Always-On Influence Builds Momentum in B2B Marketing
The great irony of how many B2B brands work with influencers and an Always-On approach is that many marketers see influencer marketing the same as buying advertising on-demand. They want to work with influencers only when they need them to amplify content for a campaign. That’s just not how it works – engaging with influencers only when you need them to do something for you.
Influencers are people and Influencer Marketing is a relationship business. An Always-On approach to working with influencers still involves campaign level activations, but also a planned and persistent effort to intelligently using insights to monitor, engage and advance mutual goals between the brand and influencers. Smart B2B marketers apply Always-On best practices like ongoing nurturing, repurposing of influencer content, micro-activations, public and private influencer engagement, development of an influencer community and inspiring organic advocacy.
What does Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing look like in action?
LinkedIn has built relationships with a 75+ strong sales and marketing influencer community of industry professionals using an Always-On approach to influencer engagement.
Starting with an Always-On focused approach in the influencer marketing strategy, influencers were researched according to criteria, qualified and engaged. Then rather than activate them all for a short term campaign, those influencers were nurtured and activated on an ongoing basis through varying types of content tactics ranging from simple social interactions to contributions to content and eventually building up (for some) to be featured in marketing assets on the LinkedIn platform itself.
LinkedIn Always-On Influencer activations:
- Social First Influencer Content on LinkedIn
- Influencer Interviews
- eBook Contributions
- In-Person Event to Co-Create Content
- Conference Mixers
- Ongoing Social Nurturing
Results from an Always-On approach over a small slice of time include:
- 2,000+ brand mentions by influencers & networks
- 84 Million in social reach through influencer shares
- 200-450% above benchmark social engagement
LinkedIn is very much in tune with how they want to be known in the industry and what that reputation, thought leadership and credibility means in combination with the importance of authenticity and trust. Developing relationships with the people who are actively driving conversations, opinions and actions in the industry empowers both LinkedIn with an on-demand community of advocates as well as the influencers who gain even greater credibility through association with the LinkedIn brand and the quality of the content collaborations.
“An Always-On approach means the relationship ceases to be “transactional”. Because of this foundation, we’ve been able to immediately activate influencers for external, public-facing advocacy and amplification.” Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager, LinkedIn
Using an Always-On approach to engaging B2B influencers can help marketers achieve some important outcomes, especially with a digital first focus by customers on where they discover, consume and engage with credible information to make purchase decisions:
- Strengthen brand awareness
- Improve industry credibility
- Warm the market for biz dev & sales
- Drive demand & lead gen with content
- Inspire word of mouth advocacy
- Build trust for the brand & solutions
- Become the best answer for the brand’s areas of expertise
To learn more about Always-On Influencer Marketing check out our influencer marketing series of posts or talk to one of our experts at TopRank Marketing where we’ve worked with numerous mid-market and enterprise B2B brands to create marketing experiences that inspire.
“TopRank Marketing is the Gold Standard when it comes to B2B Influencer Marketing.”
@BrianSolis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce