The Thinkers360 Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing is intended to be a valuable resource for businesses interested in using B2B influencer marketing to achieve their marketing goals.
As the world’s leading B2B thought leader platform and influencer marketplace built from the ground up specifically for B2B thought leadership and influencer marketing, we have developed this guide based on our real-world experience working with many of the world’s leading tech brands and management consultancies as well as our opt-in community of B2B thought leaders – including analysts, authors, executives, influencers, and speakers – with over 100M followers on social media combined.
Throughout this guide, we share the results of our ground-breaking annual primary research into the state of B2B influencer marketing from the perspectives of both consumers and producers of influencer marketing content to provide the latest trends and insights directly from the source.
What is B2B influencer marketing?
The global influencer marketing market is expected to reach $22.2 billion by 2025, according to a report by Statista. This represents more than double the amount recorded in 2020 ($9.7 billion U.S. dollars).
While the B2B (business-to-business) influencer marketing segment is just a fraction of the overall market, which includes the predominant B2C (business-to-consumer) influencer marketing segment, its growth is being driven by a number of factors, including:
- The success of B2C influencer marketing carrying over into the B2B world and the pioneering work of tech brands bringing this proven approach into B2B
- The increasing importance of thought leadership in the B2B decision-making process
- The growing popularity of specialty communities and social media platforms as a source of business information
- The rise of micro-influencers and nano-influencers, who have more engaged audiences than traditional macro-influencers
- The development of new software platforms and technologies that make it easier for businesses to identify and partner with B2B influencers
B2B influencer marketing is a marketing strategy in which businesses partner with industry experts and thought leaders to promote their products or services to other businesses. Whereas influencers in the B2C world are synonymous with social media influencers and celebrities, influencers in the B2B world are comprised of a diverse array of analysts, authors, executives, influencers, speakers and more.
All these influencers each contribute to B2B influencer marketing in their own way whether it’s through articles, blogs, books, courseware, education and training, media interviews, industry events and conferences, podcasts, social media channels, public speaking, videos, webinars, whitepapers, and much more.
B2B influencer marketing is not merely about securing a fleeting endorsement. It’s about forging sustained relationships with credible thought leaders who articulate a brand’s essence, offering fresh insights. Such alliances empower enterprises to navigate shifting markets with renewed vision, positioning themselves not just with products, but with pioneering thought leadership. In my own case that meant developing deep relationships with the brand and working with senior executives to uncover new value. In some cases that has meant co-authoring a book with the CEO of the company that identifies how it is creating pioneering value. It’s looking beyond the horizon to not just what comes next, but what comes after what comes next.
– Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman/Founder, Delphi Group.
While the goal of analyst relations is to build relationships with industry analysts and other B2B influencers, so that they will understand and accurately represent the company’s products and services to their audiences, B2B influencer marketing is focused on partnering with social media influencers and other B2B influencers to promote the company’s products or services to their audiences. The two are related, but distinct marketing disciplines.
Who are some of the leading B2B thought leaders and influencers?
Some of the leading B2B influencers are listed in the following Thinkers360 Thought Leadership Leaderboards*:
- 175 Women B2B Thought Leaders You Should Follow in 2023
- Top 50 B2B Thought Leaders & Influencers You Should Work With In 2023 (North America)
- Top 50 B2B Thought Leaders & Influencers You Should Work With In 2023 (LATAM)
- Top 50 B2B Thought Leaders & Influencers You Should Work With In 2023 (EMEA)
- Top 50 B2B Thought Leaders & Influencers You Should Work With In 2023 (APAC)
- Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Artificial Intelligence 2023
- Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Future of Work 2023
Thinkers360 focusses on over 85 cutting-edge business, technology and sustainability topics and maintains thought leadership leaderboards on each topic based on each influencers’ collected works.
More than just a list, Thinkers360 live and annual leaderboards are differentiated by our unique patent-pending algorithms that take a holistic measure of thought leadership and authentic influence looking far beyond social media so brands can find exactly the right experts for their niche. Request a free consultation!
*You can find out more about the leaderboards and how rankings are determined in our article, Understanding the Thinkers360 Leaderboards.
In addition to the live and annual Thinkers360 Thought Leadership Leaderboards, Thinkers360 also publishes an annual listing of Top Voices*. These individuals have consistently shared their insights, ideas, and expertise, making Thinkers360 the premier hub for thought leadership:
- Announcing the Thinkers360 Top Voices 2023
- Announcing the Thinkers360 Top Voices North America 2023
- Announcing the Thinkers360 Top Voices Latin America 2023
- Announcing the Thinkers360 Top Voices EMEA 2023
- Announcing the Thinkers360 Top Voices APAC 2023
*You can find out more about the Top Voices and how they’re determined in our article, Thinkers360 Top Voices.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C influencer marketing?
B2B (business-to-business) influencer marketing is a marketing strategy in which businesses partner with industry experts and thought leaders to promote their products or services to other businesses. B2C (business-to-consumer) influencer marketing is a marketing strategy in which businesses partner with social media influencers and celebrities to promote their products or services to individual consumers.
Comparing these two marketing strategies, there’s a significant difference in the target audience, types of influencers engaged, types of content produced, types of channels used, and the overall campaign goals and measurement criteria involved.
As an example, here’s some typical B2B and B2C influencer marketing campaigns:
- A software company partners with an industry analyst to write a whitepaper on the benefits of their software.
- A consulting firm partners with a thought leader in their industry to host a webinar on the latest trends in their industry.
- A technology company partners with a social media influencer to create a series of videos about their services.
- A clothing brand partners with a fashion blogger to promote their latest collection.
- A food company partners with a chef to create recipes using their products.
- A beauty brand partners with a YouTube influencer to create a makeup tutorial using their products.
While B2C influencers are typically social media influencers and celebrities, the fact is that B2B influencers and thought leaders typically wear many hats in terms of their persona: they’re academics, advisors, analysts, authors, consultants, entrepreneurs, executives, social media influencers, and speakers – and any combination thereof. These various roles all represent avenues for these thought leaders to reach their target audience and positively impact the world through their ideas.
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked B2B influencers which personas they most identified with. These influencers cited consultants (70%), advisors (61%), social media influencers (61%), authors (59%), speakers (57%), entrepreneurs (54%) as the personas they most identified with.
The results show that unlike B2C influencers, B2B influencers identify with multiple personas not just that of social media influencer. In fact, over 60% identified with 3 personas and over 50% identified with 6 personas.
This is important because brands that understand these aspects can design B2B influencer marketing campaigns that make the most out of each influencer’s skill sets – e.g. as an author, influencer, and speaker – for a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.
What are the key attributes of world-class B2B influencer marketing content?
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked consumers of B2B influencer content to rate the importance of various attributes of world-class influencer content.
Influencer content consumers cited “impactful” (97%), “insightful” (90%), “relevant” (90%) and “actionable” (88%) as extremely important or very important attributes of influencer content.
Traditional notions of thought leadership such as “peer-reviewed” (45%), “counter-intuitive” (43%) and “adopted” (36%) were cited by the majority as only moderately important.
In contrast to thought leadership content, the primary requirement for influencer content is that it’s “impactful”. While “insight” is also important, there’s less emphasis on it being “forward-looking”.
To explore the key attributes of world-class B2B thought leadership content, please visit our 3rd Annual B2B Thought Leadership Outlook Study which was conducted in association with the British Computer Society (BCS).
What are the benefits of B2B influencer marketing for brands?
For a B2B brand, the benefits of B2B influencer marketing include increased brand awareness, improved lead generation, enhanced thought leadership, improved credibility and trust, higher conversion rates, and better customer engagement.
In 2024, B2B influencer marketing transcends mere brand exposure, embracing deep, enduring partnerships for authentic narratives. As video reigns supreme, data shapes the strategies, mapping the path to ROI with precision. Influencers evolve as thought leaders, offering profound insights across an expanding digital landscape. While LinkedIn stands strong, the horizon broadens, welcoming diverse platforms into the influential fold.
– Ronald Van Loon, CEO, Principal Analyst, Intelligent World.
Increased brand awareness
B2B influencers have a large and engaged audience of potential customers. By partnering with influencers, businesses can reach a wider audience and increase brand awareness. As examples, a study by Nielsen found that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, even if they have never met them and a study by TopRank Marketing found that 76% of B2B buyers are more likely to trust a brand after seeing it endorsed by an influencer.
Improved lead generation
B2B influencers can help businesses generate leads by recommending their products or services to their followers. As examples, a study by Influitive found that 72% of B2B decision-makers are more likely to buy from a company that has been endorsed by an influencer and a study by HubSpot found that companies that use influencer marketing generate 63% more leads than those that don’t.
Enhanced thought leadership
B2B influencers are experts in their field. By working with influencers, businesses can position themselves as thought leaders in their industry. As examples, a study by Contently found that 74% of B2B marketers believe that influencer marketing helps them establish thought leadership in their industry and a study by Altimeter Group found that 82% of B2B buyers say that thought leadership is important when making a purchase decision.
Improved credibility and trust
B2B influencers have built trust with their followers by providing valuable content and insights. When an influencer recommends a product or service, their followers are more likely to trust and rely on it. As examples, a study by Edelman found that 83% of B2B buyers trust the recommendations of industry experts and a study by Nielsen found that 90% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding which brands to support.
Higher conversion rates
B2B influencer marketing can lead to higher conversion rates, as potential customers are more likely to convert into paying customers when they are referred by an influencer they trust. As examples, a study by Sprout Social found that B2B brands that use influencer marketing see a 2.9% higher conversion rate than those that don’t and a study by BuzzSumo found that B2B content that is promoted by influencers has a 42% higher click-through rate than content that is not promoted by influencers.
Better customer engagement
B2B influencers can help businesses create and promote engaging content that resonates with their target audience. This can lead to better customer engagement and increased brand loyalty. As examples, a study by Social Media Examiner found that B2B brands that use influencer marketing have a 22% higher engagement rate on their social media channels than those that don’t and a study by Hootsuite found that B2B brands that use influencer marketing generate 35% more leads from their social media channels than those that don’t.
What are the benefits of B2B influencer marketing for audiences and end users?
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked consumers of B2B influencer content to rate the importance of this content in regard to a number of benefits as an end-user.
Influencer content consumers cited “building subject matter expertise” (79%), “informing strategy” (72%), “performing market research” (67%), and “aiding decision making” (64%) as extremely important or very important.
“Making purchase decisions” was rated as extremely important or very important by 55% and a total of 82% cited it as moderately important or higher.
While motivations and benefits of consuming influencer content vary widely, over 77% consider it moderately important or higher across all potential benefits.
How do you identify the right B2B influencers?
Since B2B influencers have many personas including author, influencer, and speaker, to name just a few, it’s important to not rely solely upon social media metrics such as reach, relevance and engagement.
In addition, these social media metrics can be misleading since they can be manipulated with the purchase of fake followers or the spamming of hashtags. In addition, social media influencers may be sharing third-party material which is not even their own thought leadership content.
All these activities may make the influencer look good on paper, particularly to digital marketing agencies or B2C-focused influencer marketing platforms still operating on the reach, relevance, and engagement principle, but for B2B influencer marketing they leave a lot to be desired.
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked real-world B2B influencers about the measures and metrics that were most effective for brands to gauge their expertise as an influencer.
Overwhelmingly, B2B influencers stated that “holistic metrics (e.g. across all content)” and “portfolio (e.g. links to actual content)” were the most effective measures and metrics for brands to gauge their expertise.
Interestingly, “social media metrics (e.g. follower counts)” were cited by only 11% as the most effective measures and metrics for brands to gauge their expertise.
Since most B2B influencers are delivering more than social media services for the brands they work with, it makes sense that holistic metrics were cited by influencers as the most effective measures and metrics when compared to social media metrics.
In identifying B2B influencers, it’s therefore important to review their full thought leadership profile and portfolio which may include articles/blogs, books, media interviews, panels, podcasts, speaking, videos, webinars, whitepapers and much more.
How do you build relationships with B2B influencers?
B2B brands will increasingly engage in long-term partnerships with influencers, promoting consistent messaging and brand advocacy. Content diversification will be a priority, accommodating the diverse preferences of professional audiences through various formats like articles, videos, and podcasts. These developments reflect the growing importance of personalization, authenticity, and measurable results in B2B influencer marketing for the year 2024.
– Helen Yu, Founder & CEO, Tigon Advisory Corp.
Before investing considerable time in building relationships with B2B influencers, it’s important to first see who’s out there in the space you’re interested in (i.e. influencer discovery) and then to select and vet them in terms of their expertise (i.e. influencer selection and vetting).
You can do this yourself by visiting specialty communities and publications, reviewing social media profiles, attending industry events and conferences, and then with direct outreach or requesting introductions from colleagues. A more expedient approach is to work with B2B influencer marketing platforms, B2B influencer marketing agencies or, even better, hybrid companies providing both platform and agency services. As discussed earlier, it’s critical to work with B2B platforms and agencies who really understand the B2B model which is vastly different from B2C.
The key when working with B2B platforms or agencies is to determine whether these companies can provide warm, personal introductions. Do they know their influencers personally or do they simply have a list scraped from somewhere off the web? In addition, are they (i.e. the platforms and agencies) purely marketers or do they have an understanding and appreciation of your specialty domain areas as well?
As an example, Thinkers360’s B2B influencers are all “opt-in” and we know many of our influencers personally and can provide warm personal introductions to the brands we work with.
Just as in any business deal, working with influencers is a two-way street. It’s important to understand how value can be exchanged and what each influencer is looking to obtain from the relationship. Some may be simply interested in joining your formal influencer program and attending your events, while others may be interested in a more substantive financial relationship. Either way, you can often trade deliverables with your influencers where they may exchange unpaid social media amplification or attendance at some of your key events for other paid services such as authoring, media interviews or speaking.
As mentioned, to get to know your influencers, work with influencer marketing platforms and agencies who can provide personal introductions and who actually know their influencers. An “opt-in” community of B2B influencers is often superior to a list of millions of X (formerly Twitter) or other social media accounts and metrics scraped off the Internet. As you trim your long-list to come up with a short-list of selected influencers for in-depth projects, these platforms and agencies can often help you with suggestions as well as teeing up warm introductions.
What are the most effective B2B influencer marketing content formats?
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked real-world B2B influencers about the content formats they found most effective for B2B influencer marketing.
Influencer content producers rated “LinkedIn Posts” (83%), “LinkedIn Videos” (46%), “Blog Posts” (46%), “LinkedIn Live” (43%), X Posts” (43%), and “YouTube Videos” (35%) as the most effective for B2B influencer marketing.
Facebook and Instagram posts and videos came in lower (under 20%), among B2B influencers likely due to their B2C orientation.
While LinkedIn, X and YouTube predominate as most effective for influencer marketing, B2B influencers also cited blog posts (46%) on any channel as a preferred content format.
When thinking about your target audience, you should think about their focus areas (i.e. the domain areas they specialize in) but also their interest areas related to broader topics such as business, technology, and sustainability. For example, while a CFO might be focused on topics such as finance, accounting, and payroll, they may also have keen interest in FinTech, innovation, digital transformation, generative AI, and sustainability.
What are the most effective channels for B2B influencer marketing?
To determine the most effective channels for B2B influencer marketing, it’s important to look at where your target audience is accessing their content.
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked end users about the primary and secondary sources of influencer marketing content they consume.
Influencer content consumers cited “specialist communities” (60%) and “social media channels” (56%) as their primary sources for influencer content.
All other destinations, other than individual and publisher web sites, were seen more as secondary sources than primary sources with academic, association and vendor web sites seen by over 19% (each) as not applicable.
Specialist communities and social media appear to be the tip of the spear for access to influencer content.
The takeaway for B2B marketers is to use social media as both a primary and secondary channel for disseminating content, but to also ensure that specialist communities, conferences and events, publisher web sites, and individual web sites are all utilized as part of this content dissemination strategy.
How do you create and manage successful B2B influencer marketing campaigns?
The key steps to creating and managing successful B2B influencer marketing campaigns include strategy and goal setting; influencer discovery, selection, and vetting; contract negotiation; campaign management and measuring results.
In the ever-evolving realm of B2B influencer marketing, the key to creating impactful campaigns lies in fostering genuine partnerships that transcend mere transactional interactions. As an influencer, my approach centers on crafting narratives that resonate authentically with both the brand’s ethos and the industry’s pulse, ensuring that the message not only reaches but also engages the target audience on a substantive level. A common pitfall for brands is underestimating the importance of alignment between their values and the influencers they engage with; incongruence can lead to dissonance in messaging, eroding trust, and diminishing campaign effectiveness. Looking towards 2024, I anticipate a surge in the strategic use of AI and data analytics to further personalize B2B influencer initiatives, offering a more tailored and interactive experience that reinforces business relationships and drives measurable outcomes.
– Steve Nouri, Founder, AI4Diversity.
Strategy and Goal Setting
Depending on the size of your organization, you may decide to run campaigns on a case-by-case basis or to develop an overarching framework to help add consistency, coordination, and efficiency to all your campaigns around the world.
The latter approach often develops various packages of campaigns by size or type to make it easy to work with platforms and agencies in a repeatable manner with known pricing and deliverables. For example, a global tech firm might define three packages of influencer spend ranging from $10K, to $50K, to $100K and enable their marketing project leads to pick pre-defined packages based on their needs.
These different packages consider the number of influencers involved, the types of deliverables created, and the intended duration of the campaigns and allow for different campaign sizes based on specific needs. For example, one project lead might simply require $10K of social media amplification for an upcoming event or product launch. Another project lead might require $50K of influencer marketing to include numerous blogs posts, podcast interviews, and whitepapers along with social media amplification from a group of 2-5 B2B influencers.
Even if we look purely at social media marketing, the pareto principle (i.e. the 80/20 rule) often applies. That is, you’ll likely get 80% of the value from the top 20% of your influencers. Use this to your advantage by taking a multi-layered approach to B2B influencer marketing. You may wish to find and work with a variety of B2B influencers and thought leaders ranging from a broad base of social media influencers, to help spread the word at a grass roots level, to a more specialized “select few” who will become your key strategic partners and evangelists – these may well be the 20% who deliver 80% of your returns.
This approach is depicted in the Thinkers360 B2B influencer marketing framework which groups influencers into three tiers all with different roles within your influencer marketing plan.
Depending on the size of your organization, the number of influencers you work with across the three tiers may range from 1:10:100 all the way to 10:100:1000 (or higher) and there will typically be an order of magnitude difference between each tier as you go from tactical, light-touch interactions to more strategic, high-touch collaborations.
As part of your strategy, you have a clear idea about where you believe influencers can help you such as brand exposure, awareness around a new product or service launch, written thought leadership content, keynotes at upcoming events, generating leads and so on.
To make it easy to measure progress, determine what you want to accomplish in the first three months of a campaign as well as longer-term. For example, in the first three months, you might want to book three speakers for an upcoming event, find and work with at least five influencers to write regular articles for your web site and so on.
To innovate your B2B influencer marketing approach, look to change the reach, relevance, and engagement narrative. Take a targeted approach with strategic influencers in addition to, or even instead of the typical, broad-brush approach hunting for social media influencers using decade-old measures and metrics.
Influencer Discovery, Selection & Vetting
Rather than treating all B2B influencers as equal, it’s important to know your influencer’s DNA. What’s their make-up in terms of the various hats they may wear as an academic, author, advisor, consultant, influencer, and speaker? Beyond social media metrics, what are they writing and speaking about (not measured by social media data, but by real articles/blogs, books, and keynotes), what are their values and perspectives, and how does this align with your company’s perspectives and narrative?
This approach helps you to get to know your B2B influencers on a more personal level and can help you better select your influencers for specific tasks. For example, you may need an influencer who’s also a well-respected author to help with some custom thought leadership content pieces, or you may need an influencer who’s also an established keynote speaker for your next event.
By looking at your influencer’s DNA (i.e. their thought leadership portfolio), and what they’re writing and talking about from a thought leadership perspective, you can get a far more accurate picture of their background, their interests, as well as the various kinds of content they produce.
B2B influencer marketing platforms such as Thinkers360 provide rich, in-depth profiles and portfolios of their opt-in influencers (more so even than LinkedIn and digital marketing agencies), so you can browse their thought leadership content from around the web, see exactly what they’re writing and speaking about, to help inform the selection process and find exactly the right influencers for your niche.
When working with B2B influencer marketing platforms and agencies, look for providers who will negotiate and prepare the contracts with B2B influencers and will be responsible for handling the contract and all commercial conditions.
B2B influencer marketing platform providers may be able to partially or fully automate this process to save you time and money and provide a more streamlined and seamless experience for influencers working on your campaigns.
Providers who personally know their influencers may also be able to negotiate better contracts since there’s an existing level of trust in the relationship and the providers will seek a win-win for all parties.
While there’s a lot written about influencer rates on the web, the fact is that for B2B it varies considerably based on the B2B influencers level of expertise and their audience. Unlike B2C, it doesn’t hinge solely on audience size (i.e. follower count) and level of expertise is an equal if not more important factor.
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked B2B influencers about their client base and their typical engagement size and duration as well as the typical services they provide.
B2B Influencer Client Base
In our survey, 50% of respondents work with 1-5 brands per year, 37% with 6-10 brands per year and 7% with 11-15 brands per year. Only 4% work with more than 20 per year and only 2% work with more than 30 per year. B2B influencers clearly focus their attention on a small, targeted group of brands and typically average just 1 brand per month throughout the course of the year.
B2B Influencer Engagement Size
In our survey, when influencers work with brands, the typical size of an engagement varies considerably from under $1K to over $20K per engagement. While engagement size was evenly distributed, the three most common engagement sizes were under $1-2.5K (20%), $5-10K (20%) and over $20K (26%).
B2B Influencer Engagement Duration
In our survey, when influencers work with brands, the typical duration of an engagement varies considerably from under 1 month to over 6 months per engagement. While engagement duration was evenly distributed, the two most common engagement durations were under 4 months (54%) and over 6 months (43%). It’s clear that B2B influencer marketing engagements are more than transactional, as in the B2C case, and often last in excess of 6 months per engagement.
B2B Influencer Services
In our survey, when influencers work with brands, they provide a variety of services including consulting (85%), advising (74%), speaking (70%), authoring (52%) and influencing (43%).
Since B2B influencers identify with multiple personas, it makes sense that their services also mirror this fact. B2B influencers may start with social media services, but often bundle a variety of services including consulting, advising, and speaking as part of an engagement.
The best practices for B2B influencer marketing campaign management are really very similar to those for any project. It’s important to be clear about the goals and objectives of the campaign, the start and end dates, and the set of activities and deliverables that are expected of your influencers.
If you have a good influencer contract and campaign brief these will get you a long way towards the finish line. You’ll also want to establish a cadence for communication with your influencers in order to check-in, check progress to see what’s working and if there’s any obstacles, confirm that you’re on track in terms of the project timeline and interim deliverables and metrics, and to continue building the relationship.
How often you check in will depend upon the type of work being performed. Speaker check-ins will clearly be upfront to prepare the speakers for upcoming events and to share information about the audience and expectations as well as logistical information. Author check-ins will vary according to the size of the article or whitepaper being produced. A 10,000-word whitepaper or research report will clearly require periodic check-ins whereas a 1,200-word blog post may not require anything other than a review of the proposed final draft when ready. Influencer check-ins (e.g. for social media amplification) may be even more light touch since progress is clearly visible via online reports and analytics.
If you are using a B2B influencer marketing platform, this may also help to streamline campaign management since you’ll be able to communicate with influencers directly via the platform and see your marketing metrics via a brand dashboard or similar.
In its 3rd Annual B2B Influencer Marketing Outlook Study, Thinkers360 asked B2B influencers about how they measure results and ROI with the brands they work with.
Influencers stated that “tangible deliverables” (64%) were the most frequent means of measuring results and ROI with the brands they work with.
Interestingly, “social media metrics” were cited by only 40% (i.e. less than half of respondents) as a means of measuring results and ROI.
Since most B2B influencers are delivering more than social media services for the brands they work with, it makes sense that tangible deliverables were cited by over 1.5x as many influencers when compared to social media metrics.
Depending upon whether you’re running your own campaigns or working with a platform and/or agency, you’ll have access to a large amount of data to draw from. For example, B2B influencer marketing platforms that include campaign management functionality will be able to provide you with additional pageview data per influencer if you’re running some aspects of your campaign through their platforms.
Even if you’re tracking your own campaign results with your own marketing tools, these platforms may also be able to provide an added boost in terms of amplification by way of their influencer community (e.g. in the form of organic or pay-per-click influencer marketing) as well as their web site, newsletter, and social channels (e.g. in the case where they also act as a publisher).
What are some common B2B influencer marketing mistakes to avoid?
Focusing solely on social media metrics
The first rule in B2B influencer marketing is that there are no rules. While many influencer marketing platforms and pundits may advocate a specific approach, the reality is their approaches are often based on their own strengths and weaknesses. While we’ve been conditioned to look at social media data, B2B influencers are far more complex and diverse in real life. Like looking for a needle in a haystack, searching by follower counts, hashtags, and geographical location – or even reach, relevance and resonance – will only get you so far.
To get the most out of B2B influencer marketing, it’s important to innovate your approach. Recognize that influencers often wear many hats as an academic, analyst, author, consultant, entrepreneur, social media influencer, speaker and more.
Look for solutions and services that challenge the industry narrative and go beyond social media alone. Break down the silos within your own organization and encourage your teams to explore how they can collaborate around B2B influencer marketing platforms and providers. Since B2B influencers don’t fit into a neat box, they’re likely important to many of your teams across branding, thought leadership, influencer marketing, content marketing and more.
Working with B2C Platforms & Agencies
Another common mistake is working with B2C platforms and agencies for B2B influencer marketing work. While not impossible, this approach can be risky since you may miss the best influencers for your business, and they may miss the mark in terms of desired results.
The best B2C platforms and agencies will likely tell you this upfront and direct you to more suitable B2B providers who are more focused on your typical influencers, channels, campaigns, and deliverables.
It’s also worth trying a few different providers to compare results. Even if you have a “go-to” B2B marketing agency, try a few campaigns with other some providers just to keep things competitive and to see how the others perform.
Micro-managing influencers, whether it’s done by a brand or agency, is another common mistake to avoid. B2B influencers are professionals, often more so than B2C influencers, and can be trusted in the creative process.
While it’s important to provide the campaign brief and discuss goals and objectives as well as specific deliverables and metrics, it’s important to allow influencers plenty of space in creating their content.
Some common examples of mistakes include agencies trying to push influencers to re-work their articles for improved SEO or trying to encourage influencers to submit what should be classified as sponsored posts as opinion pieces.
In the first case, while SEO best practices are good, an over-emphasis on SEO, such as over and above the actual thought leadership content that the influencer is writing, can be unproductive and actually lessen the content’s impact with readers (as well as upsetting your influencers).
In the second case, all parties should clearly follow the rules in terms of sponsored content and respect editorial guidelines and policies. These types of expectations can be laid out in influencer contracts as part of the ethical business agreement, data protection agreement, and brand guidelines.
While these are just two examples, the best practice is to use the campaign brief and influencer contract to set goals and objectives, expectations, and guardrails and then to give influencers the creative freedom they need to deliver on your campaign.
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