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How to Make B2B Influencer Marketing Work for You

Christina Licastro
Christina Licastro7 min read
How to Make B2B Influencer Marketing Work for You


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.

What You’ll Learn

What is Influencer Marketing?

What is B2B Influencer Marketing?

What are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing?

What You’ll Need for B2B Influencer Marketing

How to Build a B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy

What is Influencer 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.

What is B2B Influencer Marketing?

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.

What are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing?

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.

Influencer Marketing Statistics

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.

What You’ll Need for B2B Influencer Marketing

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.

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B2B Influencer Marketing Platforms

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.

How to Build a B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy

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.

  1. Identify Your Goals and KPIs
    What would a successful influencer marketing campaign look like to your B2B business? Are you hoping to establish your authority within your industry, or move a specific product/service? These two goals require two different types of strategies, so it’s best to pick a lane for a given influencer strategy and stay in it.

    How will you know you’re hitting your target? Common metrics include site traffic and follower count, but don’t let those restrict you: Any form of digital engagement can be used as a measurement of efficacy. Set figures for audience engagement (click-through rates, shares, likes, comments etc.), conversions, organic search and site traffic, and set a target for your share of voice (where you want to land in organic searches by businesses in your field). 

    Be realistic about these KPIs — remember, influencer marketing is about building positive sentiment. Nothing worthwhile gets built overnight.
  2. Research Influencers in Your Space
    Are your competitors making influencers part of their strategy? Check who they’re using, see how they’re using them and look at the response they’re getting. Is there lots of engagement on their marketing posts? Try finding someone of similar status and tweak the formula just enough to speak to your business’ unique attributes. Are posts falling flat compared to the influencer’s other sponsored posts? Take note and don’t do what they did.

    LinkedIn and Twitter have huge B2B audiences, making them great places to find an appropriate influencer. You can even use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters to narrow them down by location, company size and other relevant criteria.

    Consider that you may have existing advocates as well. Check with your customer database (or even social followers) to see if there may already be someone with influence in your court.
  3. Shortlist and Reach Out to Influencers
    Once you’ve got some names in your little black book, shortlist them by finding the ones whose expertise, reach and tone aligns with the goals you set. Having a bigger audience isn’t always better, so find someone you can trust to do your brand justice with the right audience. The more specific your target demographic, the better your chance of conversion.

    Unless your chosen influencer has a specific form or email address to which they like marketing requests addressed, reach out to them on their preferred platform. For businesses, this is most often LinkedIn. Bear in mind that an influencer’s inbox is likely to be overflowing with messages of varying use to them, and make it clear in the first line (the one they’ll preview) that you’re a business considering partnering with them. Using emojis can be a clever way of getting attention, but be smart about your selection and don’t overdo it. Another clever way of catching attention would be filming a short video for the influencer introducing yourself and outlining how you hope to work together. This video can be sent via email and/or LinkedIn.
  4. Educate the Influencer, Discuss Your Goals
    Assuming a positive response, now’s the time to start building your relationship. Be transparent about what you’re hoping to get out of working with one another. They’ll tell you what kinds of results they expect based on your standing and the scope of your project, and you can calibrate accordingly. This is also an opportunity to address any misconceptions you may have about their capabilities or their circle of influence, and ask for their influencer media kit.

    From there, you can begin educating the influencer on your business, product or service. The best brand advocates are brand experts, so give them a fair lowdown on what you do and why you do it. Think of it like a light “hiring” process: They don’t need to be overloaded with every facet of your operation, but anything you’d want your key persona(s) to know about what you do should go here.
  5. Discuss and Build Your Influence Marketing Campaign
    If this is your first time working with an influencer, this’ll probably be more of a “watch and learn” experience once you’ve agreed on your goals and given them the scoop on your company and/or product. This is where the tone of the relationship is set.

    Have brainstorming sessions with them. See which ideas compliment your business’ best attributes and serve the goals you’ve defined.

    Remember that you’re considering an influencer above other forms of marketing for good reason. Your own channels are the place for more overtly sales-y content, and it’s best to let the influencer decide how to talk about your business. They’ve built a substantial following because they know how to talk to their audience. Respect their intelligence and let them do their thing within reason.

    When you’ve settled on a course, plan the administrative details (timelines, designated social channels, access to necessary products/materials, compensation etc.) and get ready for action.
  6. Execute and Assess Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
    Executing the plan rests almost entirely on your influencer’s shoulders, so sit back and watch your campaign(s) unfold. It may be tempting at times to intercept an untoward comment, but know that this is all part of the process. Check in with your influence partner along the way and defer to them on if/how to interact on their channels.

    When a campaign ends, reference the results achieved against the metrics you set and discuss what did and didn’t work. Evaluate the engagement figures, click-throughs and even comments from users. Who liked/engaged with the post(s)? What did they say? Did they share the post(s), and with whom? What can you learn about presenting your business this way to this demographic?

Let Your Brand Do the Influencing

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.

Published: Aug 3, 2022
Christina Licastro
Written by
Christina Licastro
Christina is the Influencer Marketing and Partnerships Manager at Superside based out of Toronto, Canada. In her free time, she's either riding her Peloton or listening to Taylor Swift (All Too Well- 10 minute version, to be exact).

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