Influencer marketing has become very popular among advertisers. With high reach on social media channels, they appear to be the perfect mouthpiece to reach the increasingly important employee target group consisting of millennials. Traditional advertising does not motivate members of this target group to buy, but arouses scepticism. Companies are therefore looking for strategies to integrate influencers into their marketing. This is particularly true in the B2C sector, but success can also be achieved by using influencers in B2B marketing. However, other rules apply here.
B2B influencer marketing works differently
Probably the biggest difference between B2C and B2B influencer marketing is that B2B purchase decisions are usually made before actual contact is made. Decisions made in companies also tend to be much less based on emotions those made by private consumers. Instead, they are usually based on rationality and factual knowledge or are subject to certain guidelines. Are influencer relationships in the B2B sector even suitable in light of these differences? Yes, because in companies, too, people ultimately make the decisions. Although considerably more people are involved here and process steps are necessary, in both cases trust in the brand or the product or service is decisive. Influencer marketing can therefore also have positive effects in the B2B area, but these are more sustainable.
The needle in the haystack
To make projects successful, companies should determine in advance what type of influencer they need, what they expect from the influencers and what they can offer them in return. Identifying a suitable influencer is the biggest hurdle. Many factors have to be right: credibility, reputation and how well the influencer matches the brand and the product, which is often for a complex niche market. In contrast to the B2C market, B2B companies do not have large influencer networks or databases that provide the right contact at all times. When searching for influencers, it is advisable to use keywords and hashtags to search for current articles about your products and services. In this way, it is possible to find out which influencers are already associated with the company and who has enough expertise in the relevant industry.
Who is suitable as a B2B influencer?
Unlike advertising campaigns with Instagram and YouTube stars, B2B influencers are rarely primarily interested in direct monetization. They are more interested in knowledge and networking. B2B influencers can be roughly divided into four categories:
- The Corporate influencer
Many CEOs are regarded as the thought leaders of their companies and are active in social business networks such as Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. Their charisma often reaches far beyond the boundaries of their own industry. But CEOs are only suitable as influencers to a limited extent. Depending on your objectives and industry, however, it may make more sense to look for suitable corporate influencers within other hierarchies. Especially with regard to specific content, in-house experts can credibly convey content as authors of technical articles, comments or similar formats, for example.
- Event ambassador
Events and trade fairs where the industry’s decision-makers meet play a central role in the B2B sector. However, decision makers have limited time and there are numerous events to attend. Organisers should therefore take the opportunity to include important multipliers from their own industry in a targeted manner and integrate them as brand ambassadors and ultimately as visitor magnets for the event.
- Reference customers
When it comes to promoting a new product or presenting a service, reference customers are the perfect influencers. After all, who could provide more insight about functionality, quality and the concrete application than the customers for whom the service was provided? The spectrum is wide in this regard, as the commitment of reference customers can range from the creation of user reports and videos to participation in events.
Industry experts who like to share their knowledge and experience have a special status in the B2B sector. However, they are not only valuable due to their expertise, but also due to the fact that they are extremely well connected within a very specific subject area. This also makes them interesting for companies looking for other companies as customers.
What are the possibilities of B2B influencer marketing?
The possibilities for working with influencers in the B2B environment are manifold.
Influencers can share content on their channels, write articles or reviews about products, or collaborate with companies on white papers or e-books. In addition to this, influencers frequently appear in podcasts or seminars and are available for interviews or guest appearances at trade fairs or events. In order to turn cooperation with an influencer into a win-win situation, companies should signal from the beginning that they are prepared to quote, recommend or highlight an influencer as an expert. In this way, both parties can benefit from each other in the best possible way.
Scoring points with trust in B2B marketing
Correctly planned and used, influencers are also an element in the B2B sector that companies should take into account in their marketing strategy. After all, even the purchasing decisions of companies are ultimately made by people. People who are looking for brands, products and services they can trust.