Virtually every sport has its own playbook — an amalgamation of the best plays and strategies. In much the same way, marketing has its own set of strategies. And B2B influencer marketing is at the top of our list.
Why do we say that? Because audiences have changed. There’s an ever-growing distrust of traditional marketing and advertisements. In one study, only 14% of people could recall the last time they saw an ad, and remember what it was promoting. The same study showed that 74% of people turned to social media networks for purchase decisions, and 49% of people relied on third party recommendations from influencers to make purchase decisions.
Influencer marketing steps in as a valuable strategy that is a refreshing change from traditional marketing. Before we get into how you can use this strategy effectively, let’s first set the stage with a thorough influencer marketing definition.
How to Define Influencer Marketing in the Modern Age
Influencers are individuals who have earned the loyal esteem of their audience on social media for the key role they play within their industry. They have a large following who look to them for their expertise and insight on issues impacting their industry.
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Influencers often use their social power to shape their audience’s views and even affect purchase decisions. Brands can tap into that influence through an effective influencer marketing campaign. But increased sales isn’t the only benefit of influencer marketing. Many brands have successfully used influencer marketing to:
- Advocate for their brand
- Increase brand awareness
- Boost credibility
- Extend reach
- Improve SEO
Influencer marketing is and evolving and exciting field. Because it’s still a fairly new strategy, we’ve seen a few adjustments in the way we use it — such as the formation of teams within companies, with the sole purpose of nurturing influencer relationships.
As time goes on, we are sure to see new developments that will impact how we view and use this marketing strategy. We may even see a change in how we define influencer marketing. One thing is for sure: this is an important time to get in on influencer marketing!
But how can you use influencer marketing effectively right now? How should you build your influencer marketing strategy? Let’s answer these questions and more in our next section.
5 Leading Ways to Create an Effective B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy
1. Do Your Research
There are endless numbers of influencers on social media, with audiences of all sizes. Not just any influencer will make the cut. You want to choose someone who will fit both your industry and your own brand. How should you choose? This can be summed up in one simple word: research.
Use the tools at your disposal to sniff out the best influencers who can make a real difference for your brand.
As you begin your search, turn to Traackr and BuzzSumo. These applications will help you to narrow down what influencers will be the most beneficial for your brand goal and to reach out effectively when you’re ready.
Kred and Klout are tools built to grade a person’s level of influence. Make a solid decision based on just how much influence the individual has. Tools like these can help you choose an influencer based on the right data — not just the appearance of influence.
Once you have all the facts, you will better be able to choose an influencer who has the most potential to help your brand.
2. Set Up Clear Goals
Define what success looks like for your brand. Is it a certain amount of website traffic? Is it a certain number of product purchases? Many times these are the easy metrics — simply set up a landing page to use with your influencer marketing campaign and measure how much specific traffic or purchases you get from your investment.
Even if your definition of success is less tangible, you can still find ways to measure it. For example, many people use influencer marketing to increase brand awareness or enhance brand image.
Granted, the way people think about your brand is not automatically quantifiable. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. For instance, you might look at the number of brand mentions you receive on social media during your influencer marketing campaign.
Whatever goals you choose for your influencer marketing campaign, lay out exactly what metrics you will use to measure your progress. This way you can show your executives why influencer marketing i is an excellent investment, and how it benefits the bottom line.
3. Create Authenticity
Influencer marketing is only beneficial when it’s authentic. Audiences can often detect an influencer who merely promotes a brand or its product because of a sweet paycheck. This can backfire in a number of ways, and leave an ugly mark on your company that could take years to remedy.
Instead, choose the right person from the get-go. Look for an influencer who is excited about your brand, uses your product, or could benefit from your services. They should be enthusiastic about the products or services you offer and eager to promote you — after all, an influencer’s genuine enthusiasm is contagious.
If you’re a financial tech startup company offering innovative tax software solutions, you want someone who is an authority on the subject to represent your company to their audience. You would hardly choose to work with one of the Kardashians — no matter how large their audience is, they’re not followed for their financial advice.
Influencer marketing is only beneficial when it’s authentic
4. Look Beyond Numbers
When choosing influencers to work with, many misconstrue it as a numbers game — the influencer with the biggest audience must be the right choice.
Numbers are a big part of what makes influencers influencers — after all, the number of followers they have is an integral part of what makes them valuable. But there are other factors that are equally — if not more — important than numbers.
An influencer may have a large audience, but if their audience just passively follows them, that number is useless. It is more important to look at engagement levels — how much of their audience engages with them through likes, comments, and shares. This shows if their followers truly care and are likely to listen to what they say.
Another important consideration is how the influencer relates to your industry. Choose someone whose audience also encompasses your target audience. This way you will be throwing your fishing line on the right side of the pond.
5. Create a Solid Plan
Don’t just expect an influencer to swoop in with a ready-made game plan for your brand. Instead, map out your own action plan before you engage an influencer.
For example, say you want to improve your brand’s reach. You may start by approaching influencers about a co-created content project. Such co-created content would attract the influencer’s audience to your website, where their followers could familiarize themselves with your brand. If they like what they see, they may become your follower as well.
You could also engage influencers to…
- Share your content on their social media feed
- Promote a new product on social media
- Review a product
- Provide insights on how to improve a new product
There are any number of ways to effectively engage influencers. Decide how your brand would most benefit from influencer marketing and create a plan of action before you begin.
Key Points to Remember…
- Do your research and use available tools to choose the right influencer for your brand’s needs.
- Clearly define the goals you wish to achieve through influencer marketing, and create ways to measure your progress toward those goals
- Work with influencers who truly enjoy your product — such authenticity will breed success
- Choose influencers based on their engagement with their audience — not just based on the number of followers they have