Maybe it wasn’t exactly branded as such, but influencer marketing has been around for a long time. Celebrities have been paid to endorse brands for decades. However, advancements in social media marketing have driven the way businesses market themselves to change at a rapid pace and B2B influencer marketing is just one more step in the process.
Influencers are an entirely different animal when it comes to marketing, and they’ve opened up a new world of possibilities for businesses. This type of marketing eschews celebrity endorsements (which are often viewed as being less than genuine) in favor of online promotion by people who know a great deal about a particular subject matter, such as fashion, cars, food, and technology.
Influencers regularly create and share content on their social channels that can shape the thoughts, behaviors, and actions of numerous people. Some companies use influencer marketing to help ensure credibility in the market. Other companies use it to generate social conversations around their brand.
Influencer marketing is a form of word-of-mouth marketing, which has an amazing track record for brands. In fact, according to a Nielsen study, an amazing 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over paid advertising. In the B2C world, with the line between online and real-life relationships blurring, quite often, these influencers are viewed as “friends” who are endorsing a product or service.
B2B influencer marketing could be a gold mine for these brands. When a company can leverage an influencer to authentically connect with audiences, the impact they bring can be much more effective than other marketing efforts.
Companies interested in trying their hand at influencer marketing need to understand the differences between the two types: Earned influencer marketing and paid influencer marketing.
Earned influencer marketing is unpaid and is usually the result of an existing relationship between an influencer and a business. Earned influencers typically don’t have the gigantic number of followers that paid influencers have, but they’re viewed as being more authentic.
Paid influencer marketing campaigns are exactly what they sound like. Advertisers pay the influencer to promote their product or service. Payment doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary, and bartering is often found with this type of marketing. As this paid influencer marketing is fairly new, there’s no set-in-stone method of compensation.
Why Should You Consider Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing can pay extraordinary dividends when done correctly. It brings businesses value via three sources:
- Social reach: Non-celebrity influencers can help advertisers potentially reach millions of consumers through their social media accounts and blogs
- Unique content: Influencers produce personalized marketing content for the brand
- Consumer trust: Influencers can build extraordinarily strong relationships with their audiences, which promotes a level of trust in their words.
In an upcoming post, we’ll dig into exactly how to build an influencer marketing program, but for now, let’s just say it’s composed of four main activities:
- Identifying your company’s influencers
- Marketing directly to those influencers to increase awareness of your products or services
- Marketing via those influencers to create buzz among your prospects
- Marketing with those influencers, thereby turning influencers into promoters
So, who’s doing influencer marketing right?
Influencer marketing is largely done in the B2C space, for example: Luxury retailer Lord & Taylor partnered with 50 fashion influencers on Instagram and had each woman wear the identical dress on the same day. By the end of the weekend, the dress had completely sold out. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
B2B companies, while often mistakenly branded the laggard in influencer marketing, technically have been using influencer marketing for years, even before the advent of social media. Two prime examples of this old-school influencer marketing are case studies and testimonials. These pieces of the marketing pie have long been key to motivating other companies to buy products or services.
A fine example of a company that successfully used B2B influencer marketing in today’s social world is Kapost. Content creators at the marketing system company wrote a blog post titled, “7 Marketing Cheat Sheets You’ll Use Again and Again.” Social media management powerhouse, Buffer, included a link to the post in their recommendations. As a result, the Kapost blog had its single biggest traffic day that year. Now, they didn’t translate that traffic to dollars, but with that spike in volume, you can be pretty certain that Kapost has a few new clients in their pipeline.
This often underutilized form of marketing can be a boon to brands, so check it out. And, be sure to watch for the upcoming post on how to actually use B2B influencer marketing to your company’s advantage.