The first goal of marketing communications plans is usually to build awareness among key stakeholders.
But that’s just a pre-cursor for building trust with those stakeholders, which is why trusted third-party awareness efforts such as analyst relations and influencer marketing are now mainstays of communications programs.
The philosopher in me calls it “basking in the reflected glow” of the credibility that is created by the trusted third party.
When it comes to B2B marketing (especially in technology), the emphasis is on industry analyst relations because customers benefit from the ability to access independent and in-depth technology understanding for expensive, and potentially risky, purchases that can make the management recommender or approver a hero (or not).
Social media influencers don’t offer this level of expertise, but they do have a special relationship with huge follower numbers stretching into the tens of millions of people – many multiples of even the largest daily newspapers.
Given the info and trust customers need to make large B2B purchases, is there any room for social media influencers in B2B marketing? By looking at a list of the topics of top 10 influencers – beauty, comedy, movies, sports, dancing, fitness, magic – it would seem they are solidly – even permanently – in the realm of B2C marketing.
But there are ways to integrate the influencer benefits and tactics into a B2B campaign. Here are some ideas:
Don’t have an influencer that covers your industry? Make one. Starting a social media ambassador program allows company to grow social media followers. A rock-star CEO is great in this role, but the right personality and accessibility can be more important than title.
DJA did this for a legal software client that hosted the industry’s main convention and wanted to promote the show to more people in the industry. We were able to create a successful program working with a female product trainer. What made her a perfect choice was her personality, extensive travel schedule and the fact that she was known and liked by everyone that took her training classes.
We created two new blogs for her and utilized her LinkedIn page and the company’s LinkedIn page and helped her to increase posts and focus her message to support her new role. Her posts ranged from products she was looking forward to seeing, people she wanted to meet, hotel previews, demo set up challenges and more.
All done in her casual style and with a focus on her real-world perspective. The blogs quickly became the most read pages on the company’s website and while the growth in followers and views did not hit the level of a consumer influencer campaign, they were better than the company had done or expected.
Attract Micro Influencers
Not every influencer has millions of followers, but if you can get enough of micro-influencers in your industry to post your content it can have a big impact. Tradeshows are a good place to make this happen.
One idea is to set up a display or a photo background that has the show name, an interesting graphic and a hashtag for influencers to take selfies in front of. For added impact, move that to where your CEO is delivering the keynote speech and have a photo session right afterward. The options are many, but the idea is that you design a post-worthy image that captures the show theme in a fun way enabling attendees to share their experience.
Engage on Linkedin
If there is anything like a B2B social media influencer platform, its LinkedIn. One way to build followers and influence is to comment on posts from high profile followers and industry leaders. The best approach is to be supportive or contribute to the point of view of the original contributor, but to bring a thoughtful point of view. Add to your list industry analysts and other leaders that provide opinions that can be commented on.
LinkedIn also has a creator’s program to develop influencers. The official LinkedIn Influencer program is focused on recognizable leaders, for instance CEOs at Fortune 100 companies, large startups or well-known brands.
The platform also has two “Top Voices” programs, the one that attracts the likes of Tony Robbins, and a Community Top Voice that is available to industry experts who contribute to collaborative articles that are related to a professional skill in your industry.
Do you want to brainstorm ways to bring influencer tactics to your communications campaigns? If so, send us an email and we’ll reach out.