Influencer marketing refers to using someone influential — i.e., someone who can influence others’ purchasing decisions — to market your product.
Instagram lifestyle influencers selling B2C products like makeup and clothing have exploded in recent years, but the trend is spreading to B2B as well.
This guide explains how B2B influencer marketing differs and what it takes to succeed.
What Is B2B Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing has been around for decades in the form of celebrity sponsorships and endorsements. Influencer marketing has proven to be extremely effective for both B2C and B2B brands, making it a top trend for businesses in 2022.
Influencer marketing works because it leverages another person’s following. As a result of this, many influencers work for free for months or years before gaining enough recognition to secure legitimate sponsorships and work full-time as an influencer.
Using the right B2B influencers can significantly boost your brand’s marketing efforts, but you must approach them correctly.
What are the Differences Between B2C and B2B Influencer Marketing
Working with B2B influencers may be different than working with B2C influencers. If you’ve worked with B2C influencers in other industries, you’ll need to adapt your strategy for B2B.
Platform and Outreach
In terms of marketing channels, B2B influencers may use different platforms than B2C influencers. For example, B2B influencers prefer blogs and YouTube videos over Instagram, TikTok, and other popular B2C platforms.
Your B2B influencer outreach will also need to be more proactive. While B2C influencers are known for asking brands for collaborations, B2B influencers are less known for doing so.
Thought Leader vs. Influencer
In fact, B2B influencers may not always identify as such. They prefer to be called “thought leaders” and similar titles. So big names like Neil Patel and Gary Vaynerchuk are B2B influencers.
Budget and Timeline
B2B influencers, like B2B marketing in general, may require a larger budget than B2C influencers. Projects also require a larger lead team for planning and execution. Because B2B purchases typically take more time and effort than impulsive B2C purchases.
B2B buyers typically research content across multiple channels. In other words, influencer content will be one of many interactions leading up to a sale, rather than a single point of sale.
Meaning your B2B influencer campaign should be designed to work with your other marketing materials to tell a cohesive story that will influence your target audience’s purchasing decisions.
Conflicts of Interest
Finally, B2B influencers are more likely to have conflicts of interest than B2C influencers, so companies should be aware of this when contacting them.
If the B2B influencer already has business interests or contracts, they should check to see if there are any conflicts of interest.
How to Start B2B Influencer Marketing
Research Influencer Content
To begin B2B influencer marketing, look for influential content creators in your industry. Follow the thought leaders who write about your industry to see what influencer marketing campaigns they are already running.
Don’t forget to look at your competitors’ influencer content for ideas, but don’t copy their existing campaigns.
Pick Influencers Who Engage
When looking for potential influencers to partner with, don’t just look at their follower count; look at their engagement (likes, comments, etc.).
Focus on nano- and micro-influencers. Many of these influencers have small audiences now, but are surrounded by engaged superfans who pay a premium for their services. Try searching influencer marketing platforms for influencers actively seeking brand work.
Create an Influencer Marketing Plan
Once you’ve identified some potential influencers, consider how you can use other channels to leverage their content, such as cross-posting on social media.
Video content will remain popular in 2022, so think about how you can combine influencer and video content to maximize your marketing impact.
Let Influencers Help Develop Content
Focus on ongoing partnerships rather than one-off posts when planning influencer content for B2B buyers. Let the influencer help develop the content. Could you consider creating content in-house if you’re making all the creative decisions?
Set Goals and Metrics
Finally, decide what goals you want to achieve with your influencer marketing campaign and how you will measure success. The more influencer content you create, the more data you will have to refine future marketing campaigns.