B2Bs often look at how consumer brands work with influencers to promote, evangelize, and sell products, and assume that if they pay influencers to promote their products or services, they’ll invigorate the connection with their audience.
But that’s not necessarily the case. The nature of the B2B sales cycle makes it difficult for this approach to work. The sales journey usually occurs over a long period (weeks or even months) and involves multiple stages and people. That’s not to say influencer marketing can’t work for B2Bs; you just need to approach it differently and strategically.
Third-party influencers who have a strong reputation can add a lot of value to B2B companies and help you with a variety of marketing activities. For example, they can help you increase brand awareness, boost media impressions, engage with ideal customers, and build your social media following.
If you want to make influencer marketing work for you, you need to play the long game. You must entice influencers with a strategy that builds brand ambassadors and long-term content partners. Here’s how to do it.
#1: Identify Relevant Influencers in Your Niche
One of the biggest mistakes B2B companies make with influencer programs is selecting influencers based on their social media popularity. Contrary to what you might think, influence isn’t about popularity; it’s about finding industry voices that appeal to your audience, regardless of the size of their social media followings.
#2: Get on Prospective Influencers’ Radars
If you want to reap the benefits of influencer marketing, you need to play the long game. Focus on earning influencers’ trust and building meaningful connections with them. Think of the process as building strategic content partners.
#3: Carefully Vet Prospective B2B Influencers for Fit and Niche Fluency
B2B companies have to think differently about how they inform influencers about their company and products. You may not be able to simply send your product to them to review because the product is too expensive or it’s not logistically possible. Also, many B2B products are complicated and require some education about how they’re used by their intended market.
#4: Promote Influencer Content on Multiple Channels
To build a truly effective social media influencer marketing strategy, you need to provide value to influencers and their audiences.
It’s not enough to simply ask an influencer to share some of your social media posts or publish content about your products. You need to go deeper and create content that meets the needs of your influencer’s audience.
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