There’s a bit of a gully forming between huge corporate brands and their audience.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one who will dismiss marketing from big names, either because they’re so present that I’m sick of the sight of them, or because I don’t believe there’s an authentic relationship built between myself and the brand.
Recently, however, brands have reached out to a more accessible and personal ‘middle man’ to represent their brand and engage audiences with a crafted peer-to-peer voice through influencer marketing. There are countless examples of b2c influencer marketing (as seen on Instagram by Hallmark and their #KeepsakeIt campaign and the recent #NextGetaway campaign which brought together seven fashion and lifestyle bloggers in Lisbon), but because the buying cycle is much longer in b2b, there must be a certain amount of investment in sourcing and implementing a suitable influencer for your brand.
Following the steps below should get you well on your way for crafting an effective influencer strategy…
1.Have a plan
Finding an influencer that suits your business, brand and offer should begin with a structured process. Just like the rest of your marketing activity, there should be a strategy, set KPIs, and objectives that are aligned with your wider commercial goals.
One major advantage of pairing with an influencer is the opportunity to have affiliation with niche specialists who have an already engaged audience. These individuals will more than likely have a large following as they are ahead of upcoming trends, they’re early adopters of progress in their sector and communicate information frequently and concisely. Effectively, you want to piggy-back on their reach to extend your own – but the fit must be absolutely en pointe.
2.Research their background
Researching your potential influencers’ backgrounds gives a good idea of their track record and how their tone and values align with your brand. If your current audience engages with video content, find an influencer in your sector with a great presence on camera, and you’ll be reaching new audiences in no time. Equally, influencers tend to dominate different social channels and have recognised areas of expertise, so take a look at their feeds as well as general online profile information to ensure you are like-minded visionaries. In some cases, it may be most beneficial to look closer to home – clients and customers can be a b2b business’ most critical influencers if they are loyal to your brand.
Once you know what kind of influencer you’re looking for, consider how your message should be effectively broadcast and managed.
There is little engagement as important as personally interacting with those you want to connect with as an influencer, as author Andy Crestodina was quoted saying on influencer marketing;
“Nothing comes close to the quality of face-to-face time.”
Meet those you would like to work with before putting anything into motion and find ways to help each other. Their presence in your marketing will get your brand in front of a new, relevant, and often very engaged audience. In return, nurture the relationship and create added-value for them by promoting their original content and providing engaging feedback across your own wider marketing channels, not just on social media. It’s important to know best practices and industry standards when you’re implementing influencer marketing, and so the WOMMA (word of mouth marketing association) created an educational guide (‘The WOMMA guide to influencer marketing’) for marketers to better understand the mechanics when implementing your programs.
4.Put your trust in them
One big no-no for influencer relationships is fostering a suffocating attitude through editing their content. It’s understandable that putting your brand into the hands of someone else can be a risk, but it’s riskier for both parties if an inauthentic message is posted from an influencer about your brand. Their audience will lose confidence in the authenticity, and your brand will become linked with the falseness of the activity. So, you need to develop a strong open dialogue with any influencer marketing partners based on shared views and tone of voice.
5.Be present offline
In addition to producing content for your brand and promoting your brand’s own content on social media, get your influencers to extend your brand reach offline through events, and give them valuable information to share on your behalf whilst they are networking in suitable circles. Using someone as a voice of your brand to influence an extended target audience is invaluable. Buyers are 70% of the way through the decision-making process before getting in touch with your business and they’re continually sourcing new information from trusted resources such as influential peers. So, get yourself someone who is trusted in their field – even if they haven’t got the biggest audience, it can often be the smaller influencers who gain the most ‘relevant’ engagement.
Influencer marketing is only set to continue in popularity as b2b brands come up against overcrowded sectors and as the ad-blocker generation gets ever-more stringent. It’s becoming more important to be an authentic and accessible brand, and having influencer marketing as part of your mix can bring new audiences and drive organic engagement leading your ideal audience straight to your door.