Influencer marketing has become a significant spend for many B2C companies, as consumers have become wary of standard advertising techniques and have started to trust influencers on a more personal level. However, influencer marketing for B2B companies is a segment many marketing teams are still trying to figure out. Let’s take a closer look.
Identify and understand the nuances of B2B influencer marketing
B2Bs are focused on hyperspecific markets, making it more difficult to find influencers in the space. The smaller your niche, the more targeted your search for influencers will need to be.
While influencers and their followers may be interested in a similar industry, it doesn’t make them all potential buyers like B2C companies. Also, an influencer with the highest follower count isn’t always the best option, and that is especially true for B2B organizations that specialize in distinct markets, like IIoT, edge computing, or even observability.
Small, dedicated micro-influencers can impact just as many interested buyers as big-time names—as long as the micro-influencers are genuinely passionate about the industry.
Use broad search terms, even for a niche audience
One of the most time-consuming tasks on the front end of an influencer campaign is identifying a comprehensive list of influencers. And for B2Bs, it can be challenging to find those who fit the company’s target market and meet specific criteria to be considered an influencer.
There’s a wealth of knowledgeable, relevant influencers for some industries, like cybersecurity, so an initial list can quickly grow to hundreds of potential partners. But the more niche a company’s audience is, the more legwork you’ll need to put in to find the right influencer. This is especially true if it’s an emerging market like hybrid cloud, DevSecOps, or homomorphic encryption. Influencers haven’t had enough time to carve their names into the space yet.
To combat this challenge, start with the broadest terms you can—narrowing focus is much easier than trying to expand. An influencer who spends most of their time talking about the cloud will likely also find interest in hybrid clouds. Or maybe your security solution is a good fit with a cybersecurity professional who understands the importance of security throughout the IT life cycle and wants to share knowledge about connecting developers, operations, and security. The list of potential partners may grow rapidly, but that is a much better problem to have than an empty list.
For the best results, utilize multiple tools
Here’s the hard truth: Finding the right tools to build out relevant, in-depth lists is challenging. There are a ton of influencer marketing products and services that claim to have millions of influencers on their lists. They’re all rather expensive, but few seem to guarantee their validity for B2B companies.
In our experience, we’ve found that a mixture of tools allowed us to deep-dive into professionals who have worked closely with clients, which led us to more influencers that they follow. This exercise will help you expand your list of relevant influencers. While it can end up being quite the time sink, your research will be more accurate and applicable.
After collecting an initial list of relevant influencers in the specific B2B space, the two tools we used the most in order to expand our list were Followerwonk and Buzzsumo.
- Followerwonk will save you a lot of time and allow you to easily comb through the follower list of relevant influencers to expand the list. Even with the free version, Followerwonk can sort and identify the people a user follows by their Social Authority—arguably the most important number when looking for influencers.
- Social Authority combines the rate of retweets, tweet recency, and more engagement metrics to analyze how influential a user is to their followers. This number is especially important in the B2B space because it helps you to identify micro-influencers—people who may have a small number of followers but are viewed as trusted and dedicated to a specific topic by those followers.
- Buzzsumo will allow you to expand the list even further once you move from the broad, umbrella terms to narrow and niche terms. By using Buzzsumo’s search, you can quickly identify users with key terms in their bios. From there, you can analyze their profiles in Followerwonk and see if they could be a fit for your list. You can also dig into the profiles of the people they follow to gain more insight into who they feel are experts on the original keyword you searched.
Finding the right influencers and creating campaigns around them drives noticeable improvement in brand engagement and recognition on social media. While every B2B company will have different goals, having a steady base of broad terms to find a deep, in-depth list of potential influencers will help the program thrive.
Throughout 2022, the experts from Look Left Marketing will be sharing tips and tricks to help you plan, start, and drive a successful B2B marketing campaign. Keep an eye on the Look Left LinkedIn and Twitter feeds for more content on B2B influencer marketing.