Why influencer marketing is critical in B2B

Apr 03, 2024
Why influencer marketing is critical in B2B
Get actionable tips for finding industry experts, ensuring value alignment and amplifying influencer content across channels.

What’s the key to B2B marketing success? Influencers.

B2B influencer marketing involves collaborations between creators and brands to develop and share content that promotes the brand’s products or services.

The same influencers you see on your personal social media feeds could be the missing link in your B2B marketing strategy. Whether you’re looking at big fish with millions of followers or investigating micro-influencers with fewer than 100,000 followers, the investment is worth it.

Ogilvy recently conducted research on B2B influencers and found an impressive 75% of B2B marketers are actively using B2B influencer marketing. Of that number, 49% leverage influencers to enhance brand credibility and trustworthiness. Additionally, 40% have experienced increased lead generation and sales outcomes due to influencer marketing. Unsurprisingly, 93% of respondents reported they plan to expand their commitment to B2B influencer campaigns.

This research shows that B2B influencer marketing can’t be dismissed as a passing trend. Instead, it’s a growing channel that builds brand credibility. What sparked the shift to influencer marketing? Exactly what the B2C world discovered years ago: There is a growing demand for authenticity and intel from industry thought leaders.

Building brand credibility on LinkedIn
B2B influencer marketing has exploded on LinkedIn. What began as a site dedicated to job postings, work announcements and networking has quietly evolved into the perfect space for professional influencer marketing to take hold of the professional world.

It makes sense. Like other social media sites, LinkedIn attracts professionals from various industries. The difference? Everyone on LinkedIn is focused on creating professional connections. But a text-heavy site thriving in the era of short-form videos? That’s practically unheard of, yet just last year, LinkedIn reported record engagement.

Users flock to LinkedIn seeking work opportunities and network growth. That makes it a natural platform to connect with industry leaders and executives sharing insights that might benefit users’ careers. And with a large audience tuned into what these leaders have to say about their industries and experiences, LinkedIn has set the stage for B2B influencer growth. Major tech brands like Intel, Zendesk, Teal and HootSuite have noticed the site’s potential and are investing in partnerships with LinkedIn creators to boost their brands.

LinkedIn also makes it relatively easy for brands to search for influencers. Like other social media sites, users can engage with posts in real time, whether it’s publishing quippy comments on trending topics or providing thoughtful reviews of long-form articles (bonus: no paywalls). Individual profiles list experience and credentials, so even a small amount of effort will reveal exactly what type of content brands can expect from LinkedIn influencers.

While LinkedIn is a great place to start, it’s not the only channel brands should explore.

TikTok’s rising popularity, especially among younger users, can catapult a brand into the spotlight. This is particularly true if your brand speaks to niche audiences.
Instagram and Facebook typically serve more established audiences; both platforms allow for a mix of new and traditional marketing approaches.
Finally, platforms like Discord or Twitch offer a great place for hosting and participating in conversations, making them a good fit for brands seeking to foster a greater sense of community.
Choosing the wrong site or influencer can adversely affect your brand, so consider the creators, content and platforms you want to use. It’s important to find growth opportunities within B2B influencer marketing that makes sense for your products, services and campaigns.

Finding your influencer
The key to building a strong influencer-led campaign in B2B lies in choosing the right creator. Your customers won’t be convinced without credibility. At the same time, you won’t gain a new or bigger audience if your brand doesn’t align with the influencer’s.

So, what should you look for? Quality content, engagement rate, value alignment and industry expertise.

Quality content
Quality should always be at the top of your mind anytime you bring in a third party to help with your marketing needs. When working with influencers, conduct research across their social platforms, websites and online portfolios to gain a better understanding of the work they might produce for you. Investing in high-quality content looks better, telling your audience that you produce goods or provide services worth their money.

Engagement rate
Don’t let likes and follow counts fool you. The best way to measure an influencer’s reach is by looking at their engagement rate.

How many people are commenting on their posts?
How many references can you find where other people are talking about these creators online?
What’s being said about these influencers?
How many click-throughs are they receiving?
Comparing that to their number of likes, shares and followers will paint a better picture of someone’s actual influence.

Value alignment
Minimize risks and controversy by finding influencers who share your brand values and can understand your audience. Avoid influencers with differing goals and industry opinions and make sure you’re getting in front of the right people. Review your expectations, motivators and key drivers to ensure you’re aligned and better positioned to convert sales.

Industry expertise
Thought leadership isn’t just for PR. Look for industry leaders who can create meaningful content that connects with your target audience. Investigate an influencer’s awards, certificates and professional background to determine credibility.

Base your selection on the level of knowledge and experience that makes sense for your brand and campaign. Trust is the foundation of influencer marketing, so building credibility through industry expertise is crucial for finding the right partnerships.

Making the most of your content
User-generated content (UGC) is one of the core pillars of influencer marketing. UGC makes paid posts feel as authentic as a friendly recommendation from someone your audience knows. Audiences are more likely to engage with UGC and are, therefore, more likely to follow an influencer’s suggestions.

Posts like this can also spark other users to create their own unpaid content featuring your brand. Motivations will vary, but generally, it’s because these users are trying to participate in a trend, be part of a community or hope to receive recognition from the influencer or brand.

The best way to capitalize on UGC is to amplify it. Ensure any content created by the influencers you work with can be shared and repurposed across different platforms, including your website and other social media channels. You can create several different pieces of content from even one YouTube review or product demonstration. Post those shorter videos on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and X to maximize reach.

This works well when you know which spaces your audience occupies and how to cater that content to them. Don’t create a TikTok account if you won’t actively post and participate in the platform’s trends. Similarly, don’t expect an audience on LinkedIn to develop an interest in your brand from just one post.

Commit to a consistent posting schedule that links back to your site. When interested users land there, they should be greeted by plenty of information, including blogs, reviews, white papers and more.

Driving B2B marketing success with authenticity
The influencers you choose will depend on various factors, including campaign goals, your target audience and relevant social platforms. LinkedIn’s growing popularity and ease of use make it a great vehicle for brands looking to enter the realm of B2B influencer marketing, but the options are endless.

Knowing who your customers are listening to and measuring campaign results will help you find the right influencers over time and better prepare you to build an authentic brand presence. There’s no substitution for cultivating meaningful engagement. This interaction builds the type of brand credibility that drives ROI and long-term success.

Source: martech