Internet celebrities are flexing their influence on social platforms. Using the ability to directly connect with fans, they affect purchasing decisions and sway opinions on brands they represent, generating double the sales of paid advertising according to a recent McKinsey study. By directly recommending a product or service, an influencer can convince large swaths of its cult-like digital audience to make a purchase in seconds. From beauty and fashion, to automotive or outdoors, brands can get right into the hands of their target audiences at a lower price point than ever before.
How is this possible? Forbes explains that influencers aren’t just entertainers, but rather movement leaders, role models and even educators. With the one-size-fits-all concept being washed away in all facets of business, niche influencers are just another step toward a more personalized consumer world.
While influencers are traditionally leveraged for consumer campaigns, smart B2B (business-to-business) marketers are cashing in. B2B influencers are professionals in their field, and their industry authority is either already there or can be easily developed. Their authenticity creates brand affinity while staying true to themselves. Here are a few tips for using influencer marketing with B2B companies.
- Know what you’re selling and how to promote it. Unlike B2C (business-to-consumer) industries, B2B influencers are selling insights, not necessarily a product or lifestyle. When using influencers for B2B, keep the promotional value of the content at a minimum. Buyers are not looking for information about your brand, but what problem you can help solve. Anything too promotional is futile and will not lead to shares, likes or impressions.
- Spread the love. Engagement and influence happen at all levels. Although macro influencers (100,000+ followers) are the most well-known, micro (1,000-50,000) and nano-influencers (>1,000) have a power of their own. Marketers can promote content more directly to their targets at a lower cost through up-and-coming influencers who offer an even more personal and authentic approach.
- Practice patience. Consumer goods companies can pay an actress to promote a brand of cosmetics on Instagram and purchases will roll in almost immediately. B2B requires a more nuanced approach. Many factors go into a B2B purchase decision, and thus require a more comprehensive and longer sales cycle than consumer purchases. Building influencers into this longer timeline can impact purchasing decisions at critical points that will help speed conversion over time.
Only time will tell which influencers have staying power, but the practice of influencer marketing isn’t going away anytime soon. For more news and viewpoints on B2B marketing, check out Sharon Hegarty’s recent post, The Magic of B2B.
Josh Radom is a recent Michigan State University Graduate and a summer intern in Stratacomm’s Detroit office. He is pursuing a master’s degree in strategic public relations from the University of Southern California – Los Angeles.