Just reading the word, your frontal lobe lit up like a bulb. You may have an opinion, anywhere from “ugh, Alexa Chung is selling Louboutin shoes” to “Alexa Chung just sold me my Louboutin shoes”. That’s what makes influencer marketing so effective: However you encounter it, those shoes are on your mind.
The respect you have for someone you follow lends credence to the things they choose to promote. And if you don’t follow them, but have them show up in your feed? Good god, those 18,562 people really seem to like this lady’s shoes. Most people will leave with a positive impression of the brand, and even those that don’t won’t hold a grudge against the brand.
Your audience is on TikTok and Instagram, and they’re being fed suggestions about what to buy several times per sitting. An influencer is just a marketer that people like.
Let’s talk about what influencer marketing is, why it works, and how to make it work for you in B2B marketing.
Influencer marketing is using popular social media figures to build positive sentiment towards a brand. Notable examples include household names like The Rock promoting men’s products, or Sofia Vergara touting the merits of any number of beauty products.
These are usually industry-specific, meaning you’re more likely to find a tech guru selling web development services than shoes.
Don’t lump influencers in with content creators by default, though. Where an influencer posts sponsored content to convince their followers to consider a brand, a content creator develops original content (videos, images, graphics etc.) that serves to introduce the brand to audiences usually outside of the creator’s direct influence.
They can and often do overlap (think of your favorite TikTok comedian heaping suspicious amounts of praise for Tide Pods in that one video), but it’s best to think of both in terms of the relationships they necessitate. Using a specific influencer is mostly a one-and-done affair for a business, but a content creator can become the face of your brand for years to come. A modern business would hire a content creator, but pay an influencer.
Which one you should use depends on whether you’re looking exclusively for a boost in profile, or a long-term brand “voice”. Both can be extremely useful, but one is short-term, and the other long-term.
B2B influencer marketing is using influencers to build positive brand sentiment from businesses (rather than individual customers). When modern B2B companies need to endear themselves to targeted businesses, they’re increasingly relying on influencers to do so.
The influencer, who’s well-known and/or well-versed in the target’s field, will typically demonstrate the necessity for the B2B company’s product or service in a post or video distributed through their social channels. In it, they’ll illustrate an industry-specific problem being (usually) effortlessly solved with the help of the business in question. It’s a simple and effective way of accessing a key audience while also showing them how the product or service works.
Influencer marketing has proven rewarding for countless businesses, and it’s affecting the way we behave as consumers in general. 49% of people say they’ve purchased a product after seeing it used by an influencer on social media, and 51% of marketers say influencers help them acquire better customers.
People are also 94% more likely to trust the opinion of an influencer over their friends or family when making a shopping decision. This is helped by the fuzzy gradient between influencers and content creators, who often overlap. A YouTube survey suggests 4 in 10 millennial subscribers feel their favorite content creator understands them better than their friends.
The widespread trust that individuals have for their chosen influencers results in businesses earning an average of $5.78 for each dollar spent on influencers.
By the end of 2022, the global influencer marketing industry is expected to be valued at $15B — a huge jump from $9B two years earlier. Businesses are seeing the pull that industry-specific celebrities have on sales, and many are doubling down.
So, yeah. Influencer marketing works.
It can be tempting to shell out any number of marketing dollars in attempts to make a splash in your industry, but slow your roll: An influencer isn’t a brand expert, and they’re unlikely to do much more than give your business a little push in the right direction. They’re a launch pad for prospective businesses to make first contact with your brand.
For your efforts to amount to more than a few hundred extra likes on Instagram, you’ll need a soft place for those prospects to land. If clicking on their influencer’s link doesn’t take them to content that convinces them to investigate further, many will drop off. Why should they leave the gratifying content of their social media channel for something less exciting?
To make influencer marketing work for your B2B business, you’ll need airtight, memorable branding and content first. This means having a web presence that’s full of consistently engaging content that demonstrates your value, expanding on the promise made by the influencer while capturing the prospect’s curiosity. It takes the form of appealing and appropriate branding (imagery, colors, graphics), motion graphics, videos and copy that succinctly identifies and addresses their business concerns.
Oh, and it’s got to be clever.
This can be a cumbersome process and is beyond the scope of many capable in-house design teams (who have their hands full with endless adjacent marketing tasks). On top of this, building a brand comes with a sizable amount of market research and brand stewardship that exceeds what even the best in-house designers can muster. For this reason, it helps to hand off projects like these to a dedicated design service that can transform your brand without increasing headcount and adding salaries to your marketing budget.
Whether it's building landing pages to make the most of influencer marketing, or dazzling with design, Superside is your key to branding excellence.
You might expect finding and onboarding an influencer to be as easy as waving a big bag of cash in their general direction. While your heart’s in the right place (your wallet), there’s a lot that goes into finding the right influencers for your brand.
Be wary: Many platforms are tailored towards B2C brands, but market themselves as one-size-fits all tools useful for any business. While they may have some functionalities that align with your business’ needs, the majority attract and find influencers popular in the B2C sphere. Be careful not to waste resources investing in tools that won’t lead you to the right partners. Do your research before committing and see if there are month to month plans so you can see if it works for you!
There are still tools that can help, though. Spark Toro, for instance, is an audience research tool you can use to pull commonalities and find influencers who make sense for your brand.
In building a strong B2B influencer marketing strategy, you’ll need to have already done the marketing legwork in identifying your target audience and key personas. With that in mind, here are some broad steps that’ll move you in the right direction.
Partnering with an influencer for your B2B business can be a phenomenal way to reach new audiences. It increases your authority within your industry, and gives you a chance to see how targets react to your brand in real-time. It also allows you to tap into different audiences, gaining you access to individuals who may not have heard about your brand.
Clicks don’t always translate to leads, though. Even the best influencer strategies can fall flat if the branding and content they push to don’t engage on contact. This is why it’s critical to have strong branding that supports the influencer’s content: The influencer’s post(s) spark interest, but it’s your brand, your digital presence, your whole deal that moves businesses to consider your service or products.
This requires the input of dedicated, industry-versed branding professionals who can refine or shape your brand for maximum effect. Together, your brand and influence marketer create a package it’s hard to say no to. When well-planned, influencer marketing is a valuable B2B marketing tool that sets the groundwork for greater lead generation and, ultimately, revenue.
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