We all know the way influencing affects sponsored posts on YouTube and Instagram, as well as various other social platforms, but it can also be a valuable strategy in the B2B world.
How to do it right for your business.
Understand the importance of influence
The first step in building a successful B2B influencer strategy is to define what an influencer really is. For some, this means rethinking how to approach influencing.
Everything revolves around passion: passion creates energy and people buy energy. So you need to find and work with people who are already passionate about what your business does: they are your real influencers.
The goal should be long-term collaboration and not a one-time financial exchange where you pay the influencer for their support. So that both of you benefit from working together, find people who want to work with you the same way you want to work with them.
With that in mind, instead of looking for macro influencers or those with the largest fan base, find lawyers who would naturally buy your product or take part in the experience you offered. Finding the right people is key to building trust and authority in the B2B space, whether it be by working with your clients on case studies and testimonials or working with leaders in your industry.
The element of trust is critical to the influencer’s success. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling technology solutions or training. People will trust someone else’s support when the person they’re coming from is relevant to the industry and that person speaks from their own experience.
In short, influencing has to be organic and real: working with an influencer who is too far removed from what you are doing, or giving the influencer pre-written posts to share, costs you the all-important “human” element.
And trust works both ways. As a B2B brand, use your tone of voice, heritage, and identity to build trust in yourself and your activities. It’s important to be clear about what your values are and where you stand if you want to build meaningful, lasting influencer partnerships.
Find your community
The community is at the center of influencing, especially for B2B brands. It’s important to have a community that is passionate about what you are selling.
How do you find these people? Traditional influencer detection tools are less useful here. So start with Facebook and LinkedIn groups. I’m part of some social media and digital marketing groups that have a real sense of community because they’re all there for the same reason – to improve themselves and their skills. We influence each other in the most natural, organic way. Also, be sure to start conversations or work with the people who own the groups or forums themselves.
The benefits of working with online groups go beyond finding influencers. Posting questions in groups not only provides a natural introduction to the conversation, but it also gives you valuable insight. For example, recently I was preparing an apprenticeship for a university and asked a group what advice they have for graduates hoping to get into digital marketing. I received 40 or 50 responses. That’s the kind of power that comes from opening up networks and communities.
Can’t find a relevant group? Start one yourself. This is a great way to make conversations easier and learn more about what your customers and audience want.
Use the passion in your organization
Employees are often an untapped resource when implementing B2B influencer strategies. You want to find the people in your company who are really excited about the space you work in and what you offer, because of course they want to do PR themselves.
By talking about what’s going on in the industry – in their own words, on their own platforms – they are getting attention that can develop into new business opportunities. I call the content they produce employee opinions.
Another benefit of such an approach is that it naturally adds a human element to your business. As a company, you often follow guidelines on what to say and how. But when your employees speak for themselves, they bring feelings and opinions with them that make what they’re saying more understandable without restrictions.
As an organization, what can you do to promote this? Well, if you are to be successful, the desire for influence has to be authentic and come from the employee first. Regardless of what business you are in, there are employees in your company who are enthusiastic about your company and who talk about it on their platforms. While you don’t want to force anything, you can create a culture where people naturally feel more open to talking about your brand and the great things you do.
This is why your recruiting strategy is so important. Hiring people with passion – even if they don’t have the skills they want in the long run – may be a better option than hiring people with more experience but less committed to your brand.
Aside from hiring, you can also help in practical ways. For example, if employees want to create content but don’t know how to write, you can offer assistance by putting them in touch with someone in the organization who will create Ghostwrite for them.
Learn from B2C brands
My final piece of advice: As much as B2B strategies differ from B2C strategies, you still learn a lot from the latter. For example, B2C brands tend to be better able to reach their audiences at the lifestyle level. However, in B2B organizations, the instinct is to keep a corporate voice. Remember, however, that you are still talking to people – even if it is a business role. So be bold and break the commercial mindset if you want your influencer strategy to succeed.