Given today’s uncertain economy, most businesses can’t afford to invest in a B2B product without being 100% certain they are getting an essential service. With that in mind, many brands are beginning to leverage B2B influencers to swell brand sentiment and build trust long before a prospect has any direct interaction with a team member. When done correctly, B2B influencer marketing can increase awareness and generate leads, giving your sales team a head start when a prospect contacts them about your services.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at the B2B influencer marketing landscape, examine a couple brands we love that are doing it right, and give you a step-by-step guide for executing your first campaign with B2B creators.
What is B2B influencer marketing?
B2B influencer marketing is when a business leverages online content creators to help promote its product or service to another business. Salesforce, HubSpot, and Okta are just a few examples of B2B companies that have executed influencer marketing strategies with great success.
Usually, when we think of influencer marketing, we think of B2C influencer marketing, which generally involves a social media creator encouraging us to tap the link in their bio or use a promo code to purchase one of their favorite products.
The concept of B2B influencer marketing is the same. However, it often requires targeting corporate buyers and high-level decision-makers. That means the creators your brand targets for B2B influencer marketing must have the deep industry knowledge and reputation necessary to influence key stakeholders.
Some common B2B influencers include:
- Keynote speakers
- Thought leaders
Is B2B influencer marketing right for your brand?
Does your company offer a product or service to other businesses? If so, B2B influencer marketing is definitely something to look into. Here are a couple of points to consider:
Many B2B marketers are already testing influencer marketing.
We’ve all seen how influencers promote brands across Instagram, Tiktok, and other popular social media platforms. They introduce you to a new product, showcase it authentically, and demonstrate how it adds value to their lives. You probably follow a few of these influencers yourself and can speak to the effectiveness of their endorsements.
While B2B influencer marketing isn’t yet as common as the type of B2C influencer marketing we’re all familiar with, it’s just as effective. And B2B brands are starting to notice.
In a recent survey, roughly 26% of B2B marketers said they planned to explore influencer marketing for the first time in 2022. Another 17% said they expected the strategy to be the highest contributor to business growth.
Overall, research shows that influencer marketing can bring in 11x greater ROI than most other forms of digital marketing. And now, B2B companies are beginning to realize they can get in on the fun too.
Building brand awareness is a top goal in B2B marketing.
Influencer marketing can help accomplish almost any B2B marketing goal, but building brand awareness sits at the top.
Here is a look at the top five goals B2B companies leverage influencer marketing to accomplish:
- Brand awareness – 91%
- Generate demand leads – 85%
- Build trust – 81%
- Educate audiences – 79%
- Nurture leads – 68%
Where is B2B influencer marketing happening?
B2B influencer marketing occurs across all major social media platforms, but most CMOs seem to prefer LinkedIn over Instagram, TikTok, and other dominant B2C channels.
Here’s the full breakdown of the social media platforms CMOs predominantly used to execute their strategies in 2022:
- LinkedIn – 81.1%
- Blogs – 7.8%
- YouTube – 5.8%
- Instagram – 4.1%
- Facebook – 2.1%
So, why is the platform so popular for B2B influencer marketing?
LinkedIn has more than 875 million users in 200 countries worldwide. All of those users are professionals, and roughly 21% of them are senior-level decision-makers. LinkedIn also has about 58 million companies listed on the platform, making it the perfect place to market your product or service to your target audience.
If you want to execute a B2B influencer marketing strategy, LinkedIn is the place to be.
B2B influencer marketing examples
@musebeautybymonica do I need to go on? @GlossGenius #glossgeniusambassador #salonowner #houston #houstonnailtech #fyp #fypシ ♬ Stuck In The Middle – Tai Verdes
GlossGenius is an app made specifically for salon and studio professionals who want to give their clients a seamless and customizable booking experience. The company partners with entrepreneurs and other industry creators to showcase how they use the app to improve their business. The UGC produced by these creators provides the brand with testimonials from real users that its clients and prospects can trust.
@ruffinm the power of “Building Startups in Public” 💥 @CopyAI #ad #copyai #startup #entrepreneur #techtok #startups ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
Copy.ai is an artificial intelligence content generator built for marketing professionals. In this example, the company leverages a UCLA Venture Fellow to share the company’s origin story and provide details on its services. By leveraging content creators on TikTok, copy.ai can expand its reach and build awareness with a young and engaged audience.
How to create an influencer marketing program for your B2B business
Step 1: Determine your goals.
What do you hope to accomplish with your B2B influencer marketing campaign? The strategy is ripe for generating brand awareness and leads for your sales team. Or you could leverage it to help build trust in your brand and solidify yourself as a major player in your industry.
The goals you set at the onset of your campaign will determine how you navigate your campaign, the platform(s) on which you run it, and the creators you leverage to drive your message home to your target audience. That makes this step one of the most critical of the entire process, so take your time developing your roadmap.
Step 2: Figure out where to direct your focus.
Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s time to determine which platforms to focus on. We’ve already mentioned how LinkedIn is a great place to reach a professional audience with plenty of corporate decision-makers. But there are plenty of other opportunities, as well.
Short-form video has become the honeypot for B2C influencer marketers, and B2B brands should take note. TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts can be used to leverage industry experts from any demographic who can create engaging and informative content that can help share your brand story and generate leads.
Like in B2C influencer marketing, B2B brands should leverage multiple platforms rather than putting all their chips into one basket. However, the ones you choose will largely depend on which types of creators you plan to partner with.
Step 3: Find B2B creators.
Checking your list of current customers is often the best place to find B2B influencer marketing creators to promote your brand. Chances are, companies using your product or service have at least one person on their executive team or within their organization who has a presence on social media. Reach out to them and see if you can work out a collaboration that would be mutually beneficial.
If you’ve exhausted your current customers, you can always reach out to relevant creators and thought leaders in your niche. But don’t forget to let them give your product or service a free trial and plenty of background on your company if they aren’t familiar with your offerings.
Once you have identified the influencers you want to work with, the next step is to reach out to them and propose a collaboration. This could be in the form of a sponsored post or product review on their social media channels, a guest blog post on their website, or even a joint webinar or event.
Step 4: Send campaign briefs.
When a creator has agreed to a collaboration, it’s time to develop a campaign brief. The brief should clearly map out the deliverables that define success for the creator but should leave plenty of room for them to put their own creative spin on the content and enable them to speak in their authentic voice.
Don’t be offended if a creator gets back to you with notes about the brief. Instead, take that as an opportunity to collaborate with them and come up with messaging that helps you get your message across while enabling them to stay fully on brand.
Step 5: Track content and performance.
There is no such thing as a “set and forget” strategy when it comes to influencer marketing, and B2B-specific influencer marketing is no exception. That means you’ll need to track every piece of content your creators put out so you can determine what’s working and what isn’t.
Remember to also keep your creators in the loop of which content is performing best. If there is anything that isn’t getting the results you’re looking for, be sure to have a conversation with the creator and nail down a game plan to get performance where it needs to be.
Step 6: Optimize as you go.
When you’ve determined which B2B influencer marketing approaches work best, take those learnings and optimize them.
For example, if you notice that content from creators with c-suite titles seems to resonate exceptionally well with your target audience, consider working to build a team of executive creators to act as brand advocates on your behalf.
Keep an eye on the type of content your creators are posting and watch for any gaps. If your creators do a great job generating awareness by sharing your brand story, but audiences need clarification about how your product functions, it might be time to partner with creators specializing in tutorials and other educational content.
Step 7: Report and repeat.
It’s important to keep detailed reports of your influencer marketing program, so you can continue to prove the fruits of your labor and keep the executive team sold on the time and resources it takes to keep your program humming.
And you’ll also need to have plenty of data so you can tweak and optimize your approach as necessary. After you’ve analyzed the results, repeat what worked!
Key takeaway: Influencer marketing isn’t just for B2C brands.
B2B influencer marketing is an effective and cost-efficient way to promote your brand to other businesses and to build credibility and trust within your industry. By identifying and collaborating with the right content creators, you can reach a wider audience of potential buyers and increase your brand’s visibility online while generating more leads and, ultimately, sales.