B2B brands worldwide are embracing influencer marketing as one of the most cost-effective and time-efficient, yet still impactful, marketing strategies.
Although influencer marketing was once considered a B2C play, B2B brands can also achieve heightened brand awareness and an uptick in revenue growth by running influencer marketing campaigns. In fact, 92% of consumers trust influencer marketing over traditional advertising, according to Nielsen's Consumer Trust Index.
So. how can B2B marketers associate with influencers to deliver a dramatic boost to the credibility and authority of their brand in the eyes of the buyer?
This article provides five guidelines for planning a B2B influencer marketing campaign.
1. Understand how B2B brands can benefit from influencer marketing
Partnering with experts who have social influence in a particular market sector provides instant credibility for brands, just by association. Such partnerships also mean that B2B brands are exposed to the influencer's network, opening up new connection possibilities that can translate into business development opportunities.
In addition, influencers often have a strong media presence and public profile, and they mention brand partners in media interviews, contributed articles, and speaking engagements. That can have a tremendous impact on building a brand's profile, whether B2B or B2C.
2. Identify the right influencer for your brand (integrity matters)
As the number of influencers continues to rise, transparency is vital. To identify the right match for your brand, you must verify the authenticity and effectiveness of any influencers you are considering. Fortunately, technology allows for advanced influencer discovery, audience insight, and quality checks.
Before getting started, clearly map out your brand's values, personality, audience, and campaign goals. The optimal influencer should be able to educate your target audience about your company and market opportunity, while lending credibility, building trust, and building brand awareness.
Review and analyze important metrics—especially the influencer's engagement rate, such as the number of likes and comments—and compare them with the influencer's number of followers. Also, check the rate at which the influencer gains new followers. A common warning sign of suspicious activity is any sudden spike or dip in follower count. Abnormal growths or negative trends are indicators that an audience has been gained (or lost) through unnatural methods.
The authenticity of comments on an influencer's posts is also a telltale sign of their methods, including suspicious behavior. Using generic words such as "awesome" or posting a single emoji multiple times is spam-like behavior. Those are also signals that an influencer is part of an "Instagram pod"—working with other influencers to post comments in a network and artificially boost their engagement numbers.
3. Choose the platform that will result in the most engagement with your target audience
Determining which platform will work best for your brand is a big decision. First, you must understand the characteristics of each platform, such as its primary audience and functionalities, and then match those with the influencer research you've already done.
Though they may not appear to be the obvious choice, consumer-dominated platforms should not be ruled out. Instagram, for example, is a great channel for promoting your company culture—helpful in recruiting employees, boosting employee morale, and encouraging real-time interaction.
Companies are even starting to embrace TikTok as a powerful tool to showcase humor and elicit engagement. Even if your target audience is not extremely active on TikTok (yet), you can amplify those assets on your other social media channels and on your website or blog.
4. Take note of the competition to build your own B2B influencer strategy
Nearly one-third of marketers (31%) are unaware of the influencers their competitors are working with, whereas almost half (45%) do not know the audience their competitors are targeting through influencer marketing. Despite that, 87% of marketers find it helpful to get a list of Instagram posts with their competitors' mentions.
Before your brand begins its own B2B influencer marketing strategy, you need to start evaluating your competitors. Find out which social media influencers they are using to promote their brands. Knowing how your brand stacks up to the competition is the first step to gaining an edge over them.
Teams should also evaluate the performance of competitors' influencer marketing campaigns by analyzing criteria such as engagement rate, audience quality, influencer quality, cost per engagement, and reach.
5. Know how to measure the ROI of your B2B influencer marketing campaign
Tracking and measuring the success of an influencer marketing campaign is critical in determining its effectiveness and return on investment (ROI). Without specific metrics to benchmark your relevant successes, it is impossible to evaluate whether the influencer and the resulting ROI align with your campaign goals.
Intelligence gathered from evaluating the five metrics mentioned above—engagement rate, audience quality, influencer quality, cost per engagement, and reach—can lend a hand in tweaking or refining your own strategy. Use the same metrics you employed when analyzing your competitors.
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B2B businesses can, without question, immensely benefit by using influencer marketing. From increasing the number of visitors on your website and number of engagements on social media platforms to establishing trust, awareness, thought leadership, and authority, influencer marketing is a proven, effective strategy in gaining momentum on the tracks of B2B marketing.
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